It rained on me as I walked across the cracked muddy sidewalk to the bus stop. I exited my building and stood beneath the overhang watching the lukewarm drops patter heavily on the cement. I had no umbrella and was already too far to go back for a different coat.
The rain splashed off my bald head and rolled into the long, thick hair of my beard. At first anger roused inside of me as water permeated one layer after another of clothing, but then a smile found its way onto my face.
I suddenly felt calm, cleansed, like I was in the midst of a strong, back-cracking cry, and the water baptized me, a rebirth. I was in Portland again and I felt superior as I openly accepted the torrent of heaven. Ukrainians walked by hurriedly with coats pulled up over their shoulders and umbrellas held close to their heads.
I must have looked insane to their eyes; a laughing bearded man in foreign clothes taunting God amidst a demonstration of his control over humanity. I reached the bus stop and let everyone board ahead of me. Standing still the water grouped up and sunk deeper through my clothes. My bus fare went limp in my hand and the driver looked annoyed as he took the soggy mess.
No one sat beside me. No one sat directly across from me. Beads of water rested on my beard and I resisted the urge to wipe the moisture off my shiny head. I must have looked like a wet dog dragged in off the street. In a country overrun with stray dogs I finally discovered the perfect camouflage.
I rode to school in blissful solitary. I did not even mind that I had been dropped into a classroom with no lesson plan. The children burned holes into me when I explained my new no-cellphone-in-the-classroom rule. I found great pleasure in their misery.
I finally spoke to my counterpart about not being left alone to teach, that we are suppose to co-teach, to blend America and Ukraine together in the classroom. She told me she understood.
‘So, tomorrow you will teach Helen’s class and you will have the class all to yourself. ‘
It could be the rebirth but I said OK with a genuine smile. Why not? If I can’t accomplish the task of my Peace Corps objective then I would rather be left completely alone. I will teach the kids in my own way and focus on the direction I think will be most beneficial to their speaking the language.
Sure, this may not match up with their tests, but the students can’t be failed or held back, and it is the knowledge of conversing that they will need to know, not the tedious rules that a native English speaker doesn’t even know. I will teach on topic but I will make the lessons entirely communicative.