Thursday, July 2, 2009

Final Thoughts

One of the pitfalls of being the last to post a reflection is trying to find something different to say from all of the previous posts. But after spending 11 days travelling with my colleagues and reading their reflections, I know exactly what I want to write about.

Throughout the trip I was continually struck by how much this group loves children and loves teaching. I've always known this fact about all of my faculty, but it was brought home time and again as I watched our interaction with the children whom we encountered. Of course we were impressed by the sights that we saw, we were saddened by the depth of poverty we observed, we were awed by the ancient ruins, we were engaged in trying to understand the differences in cultures, and we were constantly discussing and asking questions to absorb as much knowledge about Vietnam and Cambodia as we could. But this was all surpassed by the presence of a child. Whether it was the students at the schools or the children at the orphanage, or a child playing on a city street, it seemed as if we were drawn to them: we wanted to take their pictures to have them always in our memory, we wanted to teach them, to play games with them, to hug them, to engage in conversation with them. The love of teaching and the love of children is ingrained in us. We don't just work with children at USM from 8 to 4. Teaching isn't a "job" for us - it's a passion. Our hearts broke when we saw how little these children have. It was very difficult to leave the children at the schools and the orphanage - we would turn several times to wave good-bye, many of us with tears in our eyes, before getting on our bus to continue our journey.

The trip was a fabulous experience. I was so proud of my teachers - their responsiveness to the children, their desire to bring back all that they learned to enhance our USM students' learning, and their hope to create a service project that will help the children of Vietnam and Cambodia become the future leaders of their countries. Amazing how much impact 11 days can make in a person's life.....

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