May Our Hearts Remain Open
By Emily Nilsen, Peace Corps volunteer, Nicaragua
And again, I say unto you, Sue for peace, not only the people that have smitten you, but also to all people; and lift up an ensign of peace, and make a proclamation for peace unto the ends of the earth; —Doctrine and Covenants 102:11a, b
I am a co-teacher, and I am learning how to share my classroom, my planning, my ideas, my successes, my failures. It is my job to become a part of the school community by working with Nicaraguan English teachers in their day-to-day teaching to help them improve their English and methodological practices.
If you think sharing all of those responsibilities is easy, think again. For this Type-A go-getter, the idea of sharing a classroom was one of my biggest fears coming into Peace Corps. I was afraid my ideas would clash with my counterparts, that we wouldn’t see eye-to-eye, that I would be forever frustrated and stuck between being a real teacher and a slightly annoying guest.
In some ways, this is exactly what happens. Every day. But in other ways, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
My counterparts are some of the most hardworking, intelligent, creative, and passionate people I know. While we don’t always have the same ideas (as we come from different cultures and educational contexts), we always strive to work together toward our mutual goals. Instead of encountering difficulty, I have found that my counterparts are more than willing to try some of my “crazy gringa ideas.” Some of them work…some don’t. The wonderful part of it all is that we are learning together.
My students are even more excited to learn. They love the games and songs I bring, but also love learning about a new culture they only know through Hollywood. They pass me on the street saying, “See you later, teacher,” a daily phrase in our classes. They respect me, and treat me both as a teacher and as a guest.
There are times when I am confused and struggle with my work here in Nicaragua. But both Andrew and I have tried our hardest to remain open-minded and curious. Starting from a place of humility and a genuine hunger to learn has made a world of difference. My counterparts are as excited to teach me as I am to teach them.
God is with us.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Ordinary time is a season for awakening to God’s presence in all the details and circumstances of our everyday, ordinary lives. Wherever you are, pay attention to your surroundings. Allow yourself to be fully present for a time with whatever is before you. Where do you sense God with you right now exactly where you are?
How does today’s story invite you to discover God in the realities of your everyday life?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.