I’ve been listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen lately. It’s a bit blasphemous to soak in his voice while living in a small Peruvian town. But right now he speaks to me. Maybe without him I would have quit this teaching course that nears its end – stressed with the pressures of perfectionism I can’t quite achieve.
I’ve been jogging on a Peruvian beach a lot lately. Maybe without the run and the power of La Playa I would have quit this teaching course that nears its end – or stopped giving a shit about whether I pass the classes I’m to teach.
We have days until this TEFL course finishes and while I may be the moody blogger of the group – the cynical and over-analytical Jughead who wears a Brixton instead of a super cool beanie –reflecting his stresses on his sleeve, I am not the only one being challenged.
Some of us wonder about the job we were promised by companies who charged us a lot to come to Peru with assurances that if we passed the course there would be a guaranteed job. This has changed to ‘you will be given a job offer but if you don’t take it then there’s not much else we can do’. We’re weighed by the burden that we might not get a job anywhere, let alone the job in the places we wanted to go. Some of us wanted Lima; some of us wanted Cuzco.
We wonder what to do next, who to follow, what the back-up plan is. There is comfort in being with friends, and there’s a promising job opportunity that might allow me to have that in the coastal town of Trujillo. All I know about the place is that you can hire a hitman for US $50 and I can blame Amy for knowing that fun fact.
Another stress is the last classes we have to teach, and pass, and the last two classes I’ve been showing the strain beforehand. I don’t get why I’m so anxious about the lead-up and organising of a lesson. I’ve done prominent things in the past, but maybe I always set excuses. I’ve walked on stage in a modelling comp, but if I didn’t do well, I would have blamed it on the fact I didn’t have rock hard abs. There’s a safety net.
There’s no real safety net here. No excuses here in the town of Zorritos. You are prepared for class, or you are not prepared for class.
On Monday evening I was unprepared for a class I was to teach, and I decided to trade half an hour of preparation for a run on the beach. I put on my music and Badlands and Born to Run play after each other, and I jog, and the locals laugh or giggle as I pass them with the hair pushing over my eyes. I jog furiously past the boats and spook the crabs into their holes.
The stress floods through my legs as my toes splash through the higher reaching waves. I jog and I speed up and then I run and I breathe and I run and boys call out to me as I pass their football game but I ignore them and I don’t stop until I’m out of breath. I breathe in the words of the smooth bastard Springsteen. I feel good. I feel sweaty.
Baby, we were born to teach in the badlands.
I walk past the football game and somehow get suckered into the game with the teenagers. I join one of the sides and kick two goals but smash my foot into one of the other kid’s. We both scream in pain and laugh about it. Soon I stop the game because I’m unfit, and one of the boys calls out to me. “Inglish!” he said, pointing towards the school, and I realise he’s one of my more troublesome and cooler students, the one I previously nicknamed ‘the Bart Simpson boy’ but judging how he was in class later, I have earned his respect. As he leaves my class we high-five/do the cool handshake, and his mates are saying something like, “see you on the beach”.
I can’t meet them though. I’m their teacher. Dammit. But it’s cool to be cool.
P.S. I failed the class, but I enjoyed the teaching and so did the students. They learned from it.