It seems like the bulk of my life here in Bangladesh is spent at work in my classroom. I spend a minimum of eight or nine hours a day, often more, and often several hours on weekends in my little second-floor glass-greenhouse of a classroom. I would be lying if I stated that I liked my employers but I can say with absolute certainty that I do, really and truly, love my students.
Dani and I both have myriads of stories involving our wonderful kids (despite the fact that many of mine are eighteen…hey they’re still kids!) their clever antics, witty comments, mischievous jokes and playful insight but these would take far too much time to catalogue. I figured I would share a single story from this year as an example of some of the fun I get paid to have as a high school teacher.
A few weeks ago, I sat my grade nine English class down and gravely told them they were going to complete a difficult project. This assignment would be mentally trying, emotionally draining and potentially dangerous. It would require teamwork, bravery and a boldness that they had never used in school before. My students were worked up and leaning forward on the edge of their seats, anxious and somewhat nervous, to hear what sort of Herculean assignment I had prepared for them.
I gave them the task of plotting my murder.
Dead silence. My students shifted uncomfortably and awkwardly in their seats for a few seconds peering at each other out of the corner of their eyes just to make sure they had heard correctly. Finally one student stood up with her jaw set and a determined gleam in her eye…”Let’s do it!”
My student’s enthusiasm concerned me. I began to second-guess myself. As they murmured in their groups and cast evil grins in my general direction, I was reminded of the gruesome rendition of the Christmas tune “Joy to the World” I used to chant gleefully around Christmas as an elementary student: “Joy to the world/The school has burned/And all our teachers died/Our principal is dead/We shot him in the head/And all the school books burned etc. I convinced myself that I would die a miserable death.
As my students plotted, I envisioned gruesome scenes of impalement by scissors, being thrown out the window of my classroom to be ravaged by street dogs (Or even worse, trampled by the ragged herd of goats that occasionally lounges outside my windows. Death by goat is awful.), being bled to death by thousands of tiny paper cuts or being tied up and left overnight as prey for the massive spider living behind my whiteboard. I was wrong. Their plan was frighteningly achievable.
Ultimately they agreed that the best way to kill me was to poison the one thing I could never function without: coffee.
My students would watch me sip my coffee as I presented my final lesson and would watch as I slowly crumble to the floor and suffocate. They discussed how they could stuff my body down the toilet or hire a rickshaw wallah to dispose of it in the Running Park behind the school. They thought it out a little too well. Creepy!
Poison coffee would probably be the best way of murdering me…just in case anyone out there is seriously considering the possibility. That’s what my students would recommend anyway. Anything but death by goat!
Maybe I should go British and switch to tea. Or yerba-maté. I hear that's good.