Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Student Becomes the Teacher

Ahoj from Prague! I hope this long-overdue update finds all of you well.  I’m now nearly three months into my time here in the Czech Republic, and I feel like I’m changing even more dramatically than the leaves that paint the landscape in fiery reds and yellows and make the Prague Autumn so stunning.

My work here keeps me very busy. On Mondays and Tuesdays I teach all day at a high school (pictured in the last photo above), and for the rest of the week I tutor individuals in their homes and teach smaller classes all over the city. I also help organize and run English conversation events outside of school, giving my students a chance to come and discuss any topic they like with their “fun” American teachers. It’s a great opportunity to show interest in them personally and get to know them better. I’ve also had the privilege to help some of my students in a practical way with letters of recommendation and by proofreading essays.

I’ve gained an overwhelming admiration for teachers these past months. While some cultural adjustments have been more difficult than others (trying to learn a bit of Czech has been no cakewalk), teaching has been my biggest challenge by far. I never imagined the amount of preparation and creativity required for every good lesson. I confess I’m learning far more than I’m teaching.

However, it’s been such a delight to get to know my students. The unique individuality of each one makes me so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their lives. I regularly assign journal entries in order to get the students to think critically, to imagine, and explore new ideas (qualities that aren’t highly valued in this education system). One of my recent topics was “What is your dream job?”, and I was shocked to discover their skepticism about the plausibility of their dreams becoming reality. If nothing else, I want to be the one person to uplift them and encourage them to strive for what they are passionate about. Another topic I used was, “One day to live.” The students had to describe how they would spend their final day on earth, the idea being to get them to think about what is most important to them. In their responses, I could see a yearning for deeper meaning and purpose in life.

I’ve found a wonderful church community out here (mainly expats), which has blessed me immeasurably and helped sustain me during hard times. They’ve even given me the opportunity to be involved in praise and worship. We meet in a train station, and our little room is more crowded every week.

Pray for us this weekend, we are hosting a Thanksgiving feast for over 30 teachers from the program here at our flat on Saturday. I’m not even sure how we’ll fit them all in here, but it promises to be a great time of fellowship.

I do apologize for how long it has been since I’ve written. A little over a month ago, my computer completely stopped working, and for the time that I didn’t have one I felt completely disconnected from the world. I know that God was using the experience to remind me of His presence. I now have a brilliant new laptop and you will be hearing from me more often! As always, I can’t express how thankful I am to all of you for your incredibly generous support. Please feel free to write or leave a comment.

In Christ,



  1. couldn't have said it better myself. thanks for being a good reminder that i really need to commit to keeping up with my own blog. looking forward to the reunion this weekend- can't wait!!

  2. "One day to live"
    I'm going to use that...thanks ;-)

  3. Thanx for the update Ricardo. I don't envy you teachers and the amount of prep work you endure every day.

    Oh, and get a Mac.