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Reisverslag White and Cold Everything
17 januari 2015
White and Cold Everything
Hello guys! It has been a while. In this blog I will reflect on the Christmas holidays, the bitter stuff, and the sweet. In that order.
The Christmas holidays were amazing and I definitely needed a break from work. I already wrote a little about Goat Fest in my last blog and that I was sick, but my family in Yellowknife took great care of me and I was my old self in no time. In Yellowknife I drove on the ice road, enjoyed many a Tim Horton’s double double, had an amazing Christmas dinner and we played many games of Clue (Cluedo). It was really great to be away from Hay River for a while and spend time with family and especially not having to organise anything hehehe. My new year’s was spent in the High Rise, at another volunteer’s apartment, and we could see the fireworks from there. All volunteers had made and brought snacks and drinks and we had a merry evening playing games of charades etc.
The start of school reminded me of how much I prefer being the teacher. Just being the assistant has its advantages, namely you are closer to the students and you don’t prepare any lessons, but you have less authority/respect from students and you also need to do what you are told, lol. Most of the time the teachers make great use of me and I am allowed to teach grammar lessons and take groups of students out of the room to work with me, but… it’s just not the same.
Also, it has recently dawned on me that this town is full of drugs and trouble and that this will never change. Perhaps not just this town, perhaps it is the whole north… the government pumps so much money into these places and most people just throw their money away on alcohol and drugs. They throw their lives away. It makes me sad that most people here around my age (so the ones who have not left for college and life elsewhere) drink way too much and take drugs. It is so easy to get drugs here, even I know where to go. The apartment building I live in is full of dealers and parties, for one. And I also know which of my students deal coke. And people do not talk about it, it is almost accepted as normal by some, and ignored by others. But ignoring things does, contrary to popular belief, not make things go away. And doing cocaine should not be ordinary pastime.
So I have really begun to understand why young people leave this place. It is not just cold, it is a bit hopeless in a sense. There are a few jobs for educated people, teaching jobs, medical jobs, bank jobs, whatever. And then there are your ordinary jobs, the mines (where people work for 2 weeks and then come home for 2 weeks) and the isolation of living all the way up here, and the availability of alcohol and drugs.. it must be really hard to lead a normal, structured, and responsible life up here. Especially for those who have never seen anything else.
Many students do not know much about the outside world. Many students have alcoholics and/or drug addicts for parents. Some are exposed to drugs, verbal and physical violence on a daily basis. They do not grow up with structure, manners, hearing “no”. For many kids it is hard to find an adult who provides the good example. Luckily the school has plenty of awesome, helpful and responsible adults. But I’m beginning to see how hard it is to really make a difference to their lives.
I do also know that you CAN make a difference, even if it is small. I have also had some very good days in the past couple of weeks. For example, my improv comedy group has expanded. It kind of consists of children who do not have friends in their grade (they are all from different grades!) and who have a difficult home life. They really seem to have found each other and make obscure references in their improv games that everybody gets but me. It is beautiful and I can see in their eyes and from their smiles how much they enjoy it. I hope all five of them will keep coming back and that they will become good friends. When I see those things I am reminded of why I came here. To make a difference, to try and positively change the lives of students who do not have it easy. And I’m having so much fun doing it.
Some more examples: I helped a student with his cooking competition. Grade 8 had an “Iron Chef Competition” and the student (and the teacher too) was so proud of his final product, he will brag about it for weeks. I organized a dance, and not a lot of students showed up, and some even told me to my face it sucked. But out of the blue some boys of whom I least expected it showed up to help me decorate, and some super shy girls were having the time of their lives on the dance floor, and some stayed behind to help clean up and that put my faith in the next generation right back, lol. And sometimes students can be so genuine and nice and when they say things like “thank you for helping me,” “you are awesome” or plain “you are so crazy miss Matilda” then that just really makes my day.
My next post will be in February. Hasta la pasta darlings.
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19 januari 2015 15:44 | Door: oma van Heereveld
Hi Mathilde, dit is weer een zeer interessant verhaal. Ups en downs, je hebt het niet altijd gemakkelijk maar je gaat er voor en houdt vol!! Ik zal blij zijn als je weer terug bent. Tot dan, liefs, Oma.