Oh yeah…. school

— Written by a Teacher in Hungary —

Well, I’m finally feeling sort of settled in. That’s nice because I’m getting tired of thinking about myself all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I still will think of myself most of the time, but I’m beginning to think about others too. Specifically, I’m thinking about how I can be more intentional in showing the love of Christ with fellow teachers and students.I’m definitely enjoying teaching and getting to know the students. I find that teenagers are teenagers. Besides a few minor cultural differences, the high schoolers here don’t seem too different from the high schoolers in America. Some want to learn, some don’t care. Some are bullies, some are victims. Most just try to enjoy the day while doing what they know they have to do. As in America, I mostly teach the youngest and oldest (9th grade, 12th grade, 13th grade), and I enjoy the differences. The 9th graders are squirrely and goofy and sincere and forgiving. The older students are a little more mature and skeptical and subtle and adult-like. All of them are pretty respectful and willing to go along with the program.

Speaking of the program, several people have wanted to hear more details about the teaching, etc…so here goes. There are some differences, but also several similarities to teaching in America. As I said, students are very similar. But the whole schedule is quite different. At my school, students can choose a bilingual track and, if they do, end up taking many 9th grade hours studying English. My role is “conversational English”, which means mainly listening, reading, and speaking. Part of my job is to prepare students for a final exam that they must pass in order to advance and graduate.

I teach 22 hours per week (as opposed to last year’s 30). My schedule varies quite a bit. For example, Mondays I have only two classes starting at 10 and ending at 11:40 (nice), while Tuesday I have 7 straight classes starting at 8 (not so nice). There is no lunch break, but there are 10 or 15 minutes between the 45 minute classes. Teachers don’t have their own classrooms but change each period.

A big difference is the attitude. American schools are very student-focused (maybe to a fault), but Hungarian schools place a high value on respecting the teacher. The teacher arrives after the bell rings while the students are waiting by the door. After unlocking the door (sometimes with a sweet skeleton key), the students enter and remain standing until the teacher allows them to sit. Often class begins 3-7 minutes after the bell rings, thus shortening the classes even further.

Overall, I really enjoy the school and life here. I’m excited about further opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ but also to verbally share how He has changed my life. I appreciate your continued prayers. I also welcome any communication. Actually, I have way more of a social life here than in La Conner (probably not hard to believe), but still miss people from home. In addition, if God puts it on your heart, there is an opportunity to give financially. Let me know if that’s something you want to do…or just go to the teachoverseas.org website. I’d just prefer you didn’t give any stock at this point.

Oh, [I had the opportunity to play] paintball with some 13th grade students. We played at an old Russian army base in the woods and in old decrepit buildings. It was an American lawsuit waiting to happen, but what does Hungary care? It felt like WWII and was possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever done. We started off using the friendly fire signs “flash” and “thunder” like they did in Normandy (students’ idea), but then switched to “hey” and “you” for accent purposes. Those same students asked me if I wanted to do a “Band of Brothers” marathon day…and also if I like chocolate fondue. Umm, yes and yes.

The 3 pictures are in my communist “flat” and are my living room, kitchen, and bedroom, respectively. Not too bad.


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