Adrian (unsere amerikanische Sprachassistentin der beiden vergangenen Schuljahre) arbeitet nun in Spanien; durchaus mit Wehmut blickt sie zurück auf die 2 Jahre in Kramsach, in denen sie sich auch in den Werkstätten ihr Glück versuchen durfte.
People say we don’t appreciate what we’ve got until it’s gone. The truth is that we do appreciate what we’ve got, and we wish it would never be gone. I was asked to write this article a long time ago during my first year as a US Teaching Assistant in 2014-15. For more than a year, I postponed, made excuses, and kept promising, next month, over the summer, next year. I just couldn’t bring myself to write this because I didn’t want to admit that the best two years of my life had an unnegotiable end date (without getting a new passport).
Not long after I started in Kramsach, one of the teachers told me that there was no other school in Austria like this one with its mix of personalities, mentalities, talents and, most importantly, contradictions. It didn’t take long for me to agree. Here, we had discussions about American politics, beauty standards, blues music, and glass engineering all in the same class. Here, I was bitten at the Abschlussball (no, this was NOT a student of the school) and then had a student ask me if he should go teach that person a lesson about respect. Here, the same student told me that real American candy is both awesome and absolutely terrible. Here, I misunderstood a student’s name for a prostitute’s nickname (Yes, Mr. For An Hour, that was the best first lesson ever!) and was still invited to the end of semester lunch. Here, the class that I dreaded teaching the most became one of my most favorite classes. These contradictions show the true character of the school and its people: a character that is multi-faceted, open-minded, honorable, funny, and dynamic.
By far, the most unique part of school is the sense of community. Here, I saw the creative students, the logical students, and the analytical students all mix with each other. This is something that you would never see in America, and as an American, it was such an honor to be a part of a community that brings all kinds of different people together. I could never pass anyone in the hall without a hello. The teachers never let me sit alone at lunch. The workshops even let me spend my free time making Christmas ornaments, t-shirts, or glass paintings. Students never let me sit on a bench outside without a small Chat.
During my time here, people were always asking me how I find teaching English. My answer for them is always the same: my job is not to teach English. There are better, more qualified individuals for that. My goal is rather to inspire and motivate those students that I do have through humor, sarcasm, and wit, so that they find the will and desire to learn English and to learn about the world for themselves. I hope that my students will remember at least one of those ridiculous things, which I did in class in order to get their attention and inspire them to think a little bit beyond your final exams. To be able to see the results of this effort leaves me without words: students coming up to me, asking if I will be in their class next week; others asking me about America, for good or for bad, but mostly for bad; and most importantly, even some telling me how much they enjoy having me in class. The last could be slightly exaggerated, since I am almost positive this is their way of saying, “Yes! No teacher today.” Regardless, I doubt I could have found a more satisfying (yes, I know I told my students not to use this word and I mean it!) job or a more rewarding place to have been. To quote Charles Dickens (whom I do not recommend you read): “It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Now that I have finally convinced myself to write this article, I am relieved to say that the best time of my life has not come to an end. The experiences I have had, the things that I have learned, and especially the people I have met have shaped the person I have become and will define the person I will be for the rest of my future. Because of this, I want everyone to know that it was the greatest pleasure of my life to be the English Teaching Assistant in Kramsach.