Sunday, September 26, 2010

the line between us

before i came to mexico, i experienced a lot of questioning and skepticism about why i would come to this country. there was a distinct, tense and racially charged undercurrent to these comments. once i arrived i have become increasingly aware of the presence of an anti-american sentiment here; equally as tense, equally as charged. the politics, the border, the walls, wars, identities, and imperialism that complicate our shared history have very real implications in the lives of real people.

it is easy to forget, on either side of the "border," that history and hatred between countries manifest themselves in subtle ways in peoples' hearts and minds, and serve to do nothing but injure.

this made its first, undoubtedly of many, appearances in my classroom this week. i am struggling to unpack my own political and personal identities and motivations while encouraging my students to do the same. we had a tearful class meeting following a day of heated rhetoric about perceptions and stereotypes between our countries. i hope to teach empathy and activism to my students; i intend to learn empathy and teaching as activism side by side with them. i want to build my daily curriculum around these ideals; lessons that i need to learn myself.

as i struggle to find ways to do this, i am inspired again by a friend, a teacher i admire, a student of his own students and a true student of this life, who has reminded me in the past that teaching in our time is precarious, necessary work as we walk the precipice of change and reform...

"Teaching tears us down. It is its very nature. We have to give into it. Let go of what we think teaching is and step out there, vulnerable, and willing to fail. We live in praxis, forced to constantly reinvent ourselves. You know how (shotgun degree/ practice/ theory/ philosophy/ friends lifting you up/ millions of thoughts, books and ideas) but now comes the hard part: trusting yourself..."


mary said...

thanks lady... i hope you're right!!

and any ideas, resources, reactions everybody else out there has are much appreciated!


Cam McGregor said...

Hang in there Mary. It sounds to me like you're on the right track if you're talking about these kinds of things and worrying about these kinds of things. We're first year teachers and we're not supposed to be any good, but you seem like you have your thoughts in order, even if things seem to be difficult.