Guyana, Where Everyone Has Your Back

I’ve navigated my way through the work week and am currently experiencing my first “real” weekend in Georgetown. The adjustment period continues as I’m still desperately trying to get my footing and develop some sense of normalcy, something that I should stop looking for so I can just go with the flow. Alas, we’ll see what the days ahead have in store.

The remainder of the work week had its pros and cons, but I think for the most part, I’m going to enjoy the work that I do. I have such a small class, just four boys, and one of them was absent on Thursday and Friday. It’s weird to think that in a larger class I wouldn’t have noticed his absence, but with just four boys I wasn’t even sure if I should teach specific lessons since 25% of my students would be missing the material. I suppose that’s just one challenge that I’m getting to experience early on in this teaching endeavor. Honestly, he’s probably the brightest boy in the class, the one who was missing, so it gave me some time to bond with the other guys.

On Thursday, I gave instructions for the class to lookup the definitions of seven of the weeks spelling words. After sometime flipping through dictionaries and straining to figure out where the words were in the book (and what they mean), one of the boys looked over to me and said sarcastically, “Sir, we only have to look up one word?” Before I could reply, one of the other boys glanced up and, with an angry tone, shouted, “Sir said to look up SEVEN words! Seven! Open your ears and stop being so disrespectful!” I felt like I had my own little cheering section. Not to mention, someone had my back. And yes, all of the students address their teachers as either Miss or Sir, so you can call me Sir Matthew from now on.

I had another instance where someone had my back on Thursday as well. I was journeying home on the bus and noticed that the sixth grade teacher was sitting in the row behind me as we ventured back into the city. I didn’t think much of it after I greeted her. Then, when the bus was approaching my stop, I realized that I didn’t have the $100 dollars that I needed to pay the fare; all I could find was a 20. So, I let the bus roll past my stop and I eventually found myself in the downtown area of Georgetown disembarking with the rest of the passengers. When the conductor approached me for my fare I handed him the $20 and explained myself. I wasn’t sure how he was going to react, but he just put his fist out in front of him and lightly pumped the air. He smiled at me and let me go. I was thankful for his kindness. It turns out; however, I had a guardian angel in that moment, because yesterday morning the sixth grade teacher called me into her corner of the classroom and told me that she noticed my predicament and paid the driver. She said she was telling me not because she wanted her money back, but because she didn’t want that conductor to see me again and try to get money out of me at a later time. Again, someone had my back. How thankful I was, too.

Human beings really are amazing creatures. There are moments here when I feel uncomfortable, to say the least, but I need to remember nice moments like this. Moments when people who are practically strangers will get you out of a tough situation, when total strangers will cut you some slack, or when a student that only knows one side of you will go to bat for you in front of all of his peers. That’s the stuff of life right there, that’s the stuff of love.

One thought on “Guyana, Where Everyone Has Your Back

  1. Wow – Matty. How wonderful the people are, there. As much as Emily hates snow I wonder – could she tolerate the heat & humidity to experience the truely terrific attitude of the people there. Reminds me of a line from Little Big Man – “The supply of white men is endless. There has always been a limited number of human beings.”

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