Relationship Struggles in a Foreign Country

lately, i’ve talked a lot about all these different uplifting things.

how love crosses language barriers.

how love makes all the differences.

but, as they say, life is not all sunflowers and roses.

life is not always fun or full of happiness.

last week was not a great week for me. at least, that is how the week started out. i made a lot of mistakes while teaching the kids. mistake after mistake after mistake. i forgot things. i didn’t prepare. i didn’t finish the entire lesson in the amount of time that i should have. the list goes on.

more than that though, was this feeling of isolation and loneliness. i have talked to very few people from back home since moving here. sure, i’ve sent some marco polos and texts here and there. but even those have been sparse. i think there has only been a handful of friends that i’ve actually talked to once or twice each since coming here more than a month ago. for me, that’s a very small amount.

if you don’t know me, i’m a very social person. i used to be more of an introvert, but now i tend to be more of an extrovert with introvert moments. so spending time with people is important to me, essential even. and not just spending time with people, but actually talking and building relationships with people.

and that’s probably one of the hardest things about living here. because of the language barrier, it is so hard to communicate and build those relationships. it’s going to take a lot more effort and time to do what would be so much simpler in a place where english is the official language.

that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to do so. it isn’t. you can still build those relationships even if you can’t necessarily communicate directly with each other. there are ways to bridge that barrier. but for someone who puts so much into the communication aspect of relationships, it’s a real struggle.

and communicating through that language barrier takes effort, mentally and physically. i’m realizing that it is necessary to balance the time spent resting and time spent socializing (both with people here and people who it is easier to communicate with back home). it is necessary to have both.

finding that balance is going to take some time. last week was rough. i didn’t balance things well and i could feel it. there may not be a perfect way to balance things, but i do need to find a way that works for me. and what works for me may change from week to week.

but nothing truly worth doing is ever easy.

i don’t claim to have all the answers. honestly, i don’t claim to have any of the answers. i’m still trying to figure things out. i’m still struggling. but realizing that i’m struggling is a step in the right direction i think. you have to first realize the problem to be able to fix the problem.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

Love Crosses Barriers

last week i completed my first week of teaching English.

wow.

where to even begin?

i was nervous. afraid. how do i teach kids when i don’t even know their language? will they really listen to me, some stranger from another country? i’m so new. what if i make a mistake? will i be any good at teaching? what if i’m awful at it? what if i hate this?

there were so many nerves going into last week. so many times the thought went through my head: i’m not ready; i’ll never be ready. but just when you want time to slow down and the day to never come, it seems that time only speeds up. monday came.

and with monday came my first class.

i work at a camp. so kids come in from nearby schools on monday morning and stay until friday afternoon. then the next week there’s a new group of kids. not every week do we have camp though, there are a few office weeks here and there.

class went well. it wasn’t as awkward as i thought it was going to be. most of the kids seemed to be very energetic. they looked like they were actually having some fun, even if they were shy.

and as i taught more and more classes throughout the week i found my enjoying it. i even started to look forward to my classes. outside of class, the kids started to warm up to me. during break times, we would play games or sing songs or draw together.

even though i know barely any chinese and they have very limited english, they still were willing to spend time with me. they didn’t care so much about the language barrier. somehow, those “barriers” just…didn’t exist. yes, it was still hard when they would say something and i didn’t have a clue. but that didn’t stop us from having fun.

so i found myself trying to spend every moment that i had with the kids. i knew that each moment was a blessing. time is short, especially here at camp. i wanted to hold tight to every single moment with these precious kids and make it last forever.

but i don’t get forever. nothing is guaranteed.

friday arrived. and i was giving the closing speech, i just started crying. i couldn’t even speak for a minute. even if i wasn’t an emotional person (which i am), seeing so many of the kids crying just took me over the top. i couldn’t take it. i was able to finish my speech, through many tears, but it hurt. it hurt to see them leave.

i miss their smiles. i miss their laughter. i miss hearing “hello teacher gabi!” when i walk by. i miss getting those “high fives.” i miss all the hugs. a few even told me “i love you”. just writing this makes me want to cry all over again.

my point is, you don’t have know the language to be able to love. love requires action. if you show that love, people will know, whether or not they speak the same language. i think those kids know that i love them. and i know that they love me.

maybe if we spend a little more time showing our love, the world might change a bit for the better.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi