Service Week 2014 [Part Two]: There is Always Something to Learn

When you are sixteen, you still have a lot of things to learn about… well, everything.

For my sixteen-year-olds, it’s not the book-knowledge that’s lacking, the problem is more in the common sense department.  Many of those mistakes that shape you into someone more competent haven’t already happened to you when you are only sixteen, so new experiences, like flying without your parents or scrubbing a floor for the first time, all have the potential to become learning experiences.  (This is amplified even more when you are someone who always has a driver or “helper” following you around, quietly correcting your errors so that they don’t spiral into tiny disasters.)

There were many times over the week where student’s didn’t follow directions, sometimes with amsuing results, but others with less humorous consequences.

At the airport, we are all piling out of the bus and unloading bags from the bottom when, as the last bag is taken out, a student realizes that he doesn’t have his bag.

“Where did you last see it?” we ask him.  He looks around (as if it would magically appear next to him) and then says,
“I saw it today.”
“But when?!”
“Uhhhh…. in the lobby. At the hotel.”
“Did you put it in the bus?”
“…. No.”

After explaining how everyone is responsible for their own luggage (and calling the hotel to confirm that his bag was actually there and asking if it could be dropped off at the airport), he and I walked to a meeting point to wait for his bag.  He apologized a lot, and I reassured him that no, I wasn’t mad.  We are lucky the hotel is able to drop it off, and we are lucky that we aren’t in a rush to get onto the plane.   The same words my father has said to me many times left my mouth, and they had never been more true: “This is a learning experience.”

There is always something to learn.

The girls of the orphanage taught my students some Balinese words and phrases, all of which I have now forgotten but my students still repeat.  We learned them as a song, and they sing the song on the bus and when they are supposed to be quiet in the hallways and, now that we are back at school, when they are supposed to doing something quietly at their desks.

There is always something to learn.
Everyone has something to offer.


The girls also showed my students some Balinese dance patterns, and even the guys tried their best to imitate the perfect angles of the arms and hands.

There is always something to learn.
Everyone has something to offer.



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