The Expat Shock...
I reached Lusaka at Midnight in half Sleep drained out of all energy with Excitement about the next day holding me up. I entered my Hostel room. My tired body did not let my brain think if the place was sophisticated or not. All I wanted that moment as a corner to lie down and rest my back. The Jet Lag was terrible. Well it was my first Flight experience I couldn't differentiate tiredness and Jet Lag until for the next few days I struggled of adapt to change of sleep patterns.
The next morning was most exciting. We all know there will be certain amount of Cultural Shock for any expat in a new land. But I expected that the place will not be highly sophisticated or techo-advanced due to the judgements of my learned prejudiced mind. However, I expected the opposite, where I can find serene lively natural environment which will just make me wonder again and again about the whole design of Creativity. To my shock it was the opposite. You never get your expectations met in Life, The whole fun and mystery lies in expectations being broken, facing disappointments and shocks and Moving on. Well, thats exactly the state I was when I saw nothing but barren land with two buildings that were never even close to the Imagination of how my work place or my place of stay would be. Yes it was the greatest shock and hard to accept. I went through all stages of Depression and finally landed in acceptance by the end of the day, for I still had hopes on seeking the exposure and experience that I yearned.
With heaviness in heart i walked to my Office for the first day. It all seemed falling into right place as i started my work. The first assignment given to me apart from the induction program was to train students for Master of Ceremony for the Graduation Day. My first connection with students. For the first time I was in the other side of the Table. A few days before which i was one like then standing before my teachers. The perplexed feeling of being a teacher, of a dream job. How could I not talk about the first moment I used a red pen to do a signature. Ah! the feeling was nothing less comparable to having a bucket of Ice-cream and eating it all on your own. My first meeting at the board room, the youngest in the lot given a daring opportunity to prove my abilities. It was an amazing feeling, words don't seem enough to explain.
I was introduced to five students whom I never anticipated will be such good friends to me thereafter. Well five has always been my Lucky number. Lol. Voice training, Chatting, Bullying, rehearsals, It was never like I was a teacher to them. I was just a friend trying to help with a task.
Days spent at work, especially moments spent with my friends was making me feel positive and happy about my work life. My first task was completed successfully. Ah a sigh of relief and accomplishment.
The very interesting part of staying with my students was that it was only those moments I felt like i was outside India in fact Tamil Nadu to be precise. It was only with students I felt i had the freedom of expression. Most of all I was admired and adored by them. Drunk in the wine of Pride about my looks, my accent, my attitude, and never ending questions like Madam Why did you cut your Hair?, You look so different from other lecturers. Madam are you from an upper class in your country? Did you go to best Schools? How is it that your English is so better than others? Did you get your schooling done outside India? Madam will you give me your ear-rings? Madam you look better in a suit. The numerous words of love and innocence. What else would a teacher want than the constant admiration of her students? My days flew like magical moments sunk in that love and adoration. You may think I am showing off, trust me those were the moments that made me shun over my prejudice on them.
Those questions also made me think if I am a stand alone, I for whom the abilities are not that appreciative according to my judgements, for whom exposure has not even just begun and experience was nil, then what is the level of quality that is existing in the place I Work? I cannot but be shocked at moments when a fellow colleague struggles to lecture before her students. Having been inspired to be a teacher by a family of teachers, I always felt that a Teacher should be a role model, a symbol of perfection, at the pedestal of unquestionable knowledge before her students. I don't say that a teacher is someone greater in status to a student and hence she has to keep that pride distance. But, A teacher is a students first inspiration. It is a shame when a teacher cannot carry herself professionally, stand before her students and just go with the flow of her lessons. I don't despise those who couldn't be so, I've been there, stammering, stage fear, carelessness, fear, butterflies in stomach, if not for these you don't learn to become a better speaker. Every first session is nothing less than a war for any teacher. Its natural to not knowing something, perhaps the opportunities were less or never there. But I do despise those who having come into the profession sit back and not develop themselves to the expectations of the profession. It frustrates me to think that the students think that the teacher is not up to the par instead of drawing inspiration from her. It is pathetic to see students who are the dearest to a teacher, receive something of a lesser quality and have to compromise with it. Dear friends I ask you, will you agree if you are paid less for a month? Will you agree if you are given tap water instead of Mineral water for which you paid in a restaurant? Will you agree if you are asked to use windows for air when you paid for Air Conditioning in a car or a hotel Room? Then how on Earth do you expect a student who has paid for his education accept a teacher who cannot put four words together and frame a sentence to come and conduct lectures? How do you expect a student to accept a teacher who has no clue about what he's talking? How do you expect a student to compromise and agree that he receives quality education? Every moment a student asked how come I was different from others or If I went to better schools, I felt an unexplainable agony of not being able to help the situation.
I shall never let my student think that I am one in the herd of sheep- I said to myself.
Other than those pondering moments with my students, the rest of my life was nothing less than a misery. I felt like i was shut in a mouse hole in a remote place in my country. The whole aim of coming beyond boundaries and fighting inhibitions seemed to go out of purpose for most of the times.
Yet I said to myself, I have a family expecting my success stories, I can't fail them. I have friends who trusted on my abilities, I cannot put them down. My determination boosted engulfing the tears. Had I missed home I would have said myself I can't be a Child. I was missing Life- my freedom of expression put to death by work politics, my freedom of movement curtailed by uncomrehendable rules and curfews, I felt nothing less than a caged bird cut off Wings eating thrice a day and dancing to the music played by the master. For a long time I never got the opportunity to talk to fellow Zambians or a chance to meet new people in the new land. It seemed like I have gone back in ages and I had been staying in my own land when conservatism existed the most. My nights went sleepless engrossed in the feeling of being a Failure. Fear of scornful looks of those who had huge expectations from me struck every cell in my body. That was the only commitment that held me in place. Time and again boosted by the perks of staying with my lads I gave it a hundred thought when I wanted to Give up and Just Quit.
Owing my liveliness to my students,