By María Regina Zaghi, From Guatemala, Hosted in Karaikudi 

“One day, I was spending some time with this little boy in Chennai. He was explaining me all the types of buses you can find in the city, when suddenly, he stops and tells me: “Hey, you told me you were a teacher, right? Then, why am I the one teaching you all the things?” Smart boy, he might be only five years old, but was right. I came in an exchange program for teachers, I’ve been working as a Biology teacher in a school in Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu, and since the moment I came, I realize this experience was all about learning and not necessarily teaching (even though I’ve been working really hard to explain the diversity in animals to ninth standard).

I’ve encountered similarities in the contents I need to teach, but the way of teaching, the way the students behave, the way teachers become friends with each other… that’s all new and different! I’ve experienced all the possible emotions a human can feel in only three months. I’ve been amazed by the beautiful landscapes and temples, I’ve been sad with the way some people treat different people, I’ve been happy to make new friends, I’ve been angry with the rules they make me follow, I felt moved by the gestures of my students and I felt judged by the decisions I made. I think I’m still struggling to understand what does adaptation really means, but I am making an effort, because as a teacher, I am responsible not only of myself, but of my students too and that’s the motivation I have every day.

Maybe in some years my students won’t remember the different groups in animals, but I will definitely remember them. I will remember their head moving from one side to the other to say they’re understanding when I want to make sure they’re paying attention. I will remember their happy faces when I ask them to sit down in Tamil. I will remember their “You look cute, ma’am” when I’m wearing a saree. I will definitely remember everything I learned in India when I came here to teach.”