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Maya Barlev

Maya Barlev

From 01/11/2012 to 28/11/2012

Before arriving at the Karma Samten Ling monastery, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I would be teaching children English, but did not know how many students I would have, when I would work or how much the children already knew. I suppose I thought that children living in a monastery would be generally very relaxed, grounded and self-reflective, as these are Western stereotypes about Buddhist people. However, upon meeting my students, this was clearly not the case. The students were just like any other 3 to 16-year-olds I\’d known before. They were more interested in playing, shouting, hitting each other and running around than sitting quietly and learning. They were quite unsupervised most of the time, so their misbehaving was more extreme than other students I\’d worked with before. Despite the initial shock of their wild behavior, teaching the kids became very fun and rewarding after a little while, and it was nice getting adjusted to monastery life. The schedule of the monastery was very regular, and I always knew when I\’d be teaching, eating, or have free time. The older monks were very friendly and always willing to talk or help with any problems I was having. And while working with the students required patience and the development of my classroom management skills, it was also fun to get to know them and work with them everyday. All in all, my time at the monastery was very rewarding. Although it had its challenges, these challenges made me a better teacher and more thoughtful person. I learned how to work with students who do not speak the same language as me, which makes me feel ready to teach anywhere. I was also given the opportunity to see what living in a Buddhist monastery is really like, instead of letting my pre-notions of Buddhism and monasteries continue to be the Western stereotypes I expected.

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