Posted by: Sarah | August 27, 2006

If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life

The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.
~William Arthur Ward

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Until about the age of 14, the answer to that question was always the same. I wanted to be a teacher. I got to high school and decided that while I had no one idea what I really wanted to be, the last thing that I would choose was a teacher. College came around and it wasn’t until after several major switches that I finally decided to study International Relations. I put in the time, I received my degree, and I found a job. As a teacher.


Classes are finally underway at Universidad del Norte, and after the first few weeks of not having much to do, I am finally teaching. While I still hold to the claim that this is definitely not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, I can honestly say that I love my job and I am 150% convinced that this is exactly where I am supposed to be at this point in my life.

My students are amazing and make every class so much fun. Each class that I teach has a completely different dynamic to it, but I have yet to get bored and the two-hour periods fly by.

I told my level 5 students on Thursday that we would be having a test on Tuesday, which of course was answered with complaints.

“Oh, teacher, we don’t have enough time to study, we have so many other tests next week….”

“Guys, I just graduated from the university about 3 months ago. I know every single line and excuse that you can come up with because I have already used it. You can go ahead and try that on your other teachers, but I’m not going to buy it”

About half of the class had to translate for the other half, but once they all figured it out, they just scowled and said “oh.”

But I gave them an extra long break before we reviewed and brought in Tom Petty and Red Hot Chili Peppers for them to listen to, so I think we are on good terms again 🙂

My night conversation class began this past week, and while I complained that I would have to stay at the university until 830 twice a week, I ended up absolutely loving it. I am teaching that class as part of the extension program for non-UNINORTE students, which means that the group ranges from 16-60. They are some of the most motivated people I have worked with yet here, since most of them are spending two hours learning English instead of going home to relax after a long day of work. Their English level is extremely advanced, which means that instead of spending two hours teaching grammar structure and reading strategies, I can have real conversations.

I told the students that for the first class, I had not planned anything. I wanted them to get to know each other and talk about whatever they wanted to talk about, with the main goal just being to lose some of their nervous inhibitions over speaking English. We broke the ice with introductions and after a little encouragement, they quickly opened up and were more than eager to join in the discussion. Within two hours, we covered anything and everything from personal goals and life ambitions to marriage/divorce to the culture of Barranquilla’s CARNAVAL. That led to questions about Thanksgiving and 4th of July, and more questions about me. They wanted to know about Wisconsin and what made me decide to come to Colombia. Like so many others, they asked what Americans thought about Colombia, which turned into a heated debate about the responsabilities vs. the realities of the media. They asked me why I had studied International Relations and what my views on the Middle East were. We spent a long time talking about the Israeli/Palestinean conflict, which made me grateful for the AIESEC event we held on the topic, as well as discussions that I had had with Lisa, because I felt like I could hold my own and play devil’s advocate much better than I would have been able to otherwise. We ran out of time far before anyone was ready to stop talking…


  1. soo good to talk to you today chica :)…even with the 3 second delay;)love you!Katy

  2. Hola sarah! Te escribo en español porque supongo que ahora lo estas hablando mas que nunca 🙂 No tiene nada que ver con mi carrera, pero enseñar es algo muy chevere y siempre tienes historias que contar de lo que aprendes de tus propios alumnos 🙂

  3. check this out! Colombia is high; I thought of you. I am jealous…..

    Oh, and isn’t the new facebook weird???

  4. I am glad you are happy about the job….i am in the job search here. Except I need to improve my Arabic first! Kristin

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