If you can look past the cheesy click-bait title, I’d like to share with you a deeply held belief about the impact we all have on each other. Even in times where you feel insignificant or small, you are in fact changing the world each moment, a little bit at a time. Your very presence is influencing those around you. We all swim in the same pool. The way we move in it, even subtly, creates ripples in the water that can extend to all of us. Often times this impact goes unseen, but it is held secretly in the hearts and minds of those you’ve touched to blossom later in time. Let me demonstrate this through a story:
When I first started teaching English at my placement I went into it with the belief that I generally did not make any difference. My actions reflected that. If I was tired I would show up and not put in any effort, or prepare adequately for a lesson. I did this believing that ultimately it didn’t make much of a difference to the kids. The honesty of children was the mirror that allowed me to see the impact I was really having.
I remember one day a fight broke out between a girl and a boy, both of them started crying. I had to take them outside and talk to them about being nice to each other and about forgiveness. I gave them both a hug, when I went back inside to the classroom I gave the rest of the students the same talk, emphasizing kindness and forgiveness. The rest of the period had a special air about it and I watched as the boy and girl who had been fighting smiled at each other and worked together to complete a project. The whole class seemed to have undergone a collective shift in spirit, from rowdy and pushy to kind and cooperative. A few simple words impacted the attitude of an entire classroom for the rest of the day.
It can be even more subtle than that, and I continue to be stunned by how my smallest actions and attitudes have a deep and lasting impact on the students. On a day that I was particularly exhausted, after giving a half-hearted and half-assed presentation on communication I saw the students begin to put their heads down and look genuinely disheartened. I instilled in them the spirit of apathy that I appeared to have.
At that moment I realized how simply my presence, my energy, had a huge impact on the minds of these children. From then on I went into every class with a clearly displayed interest in their learning and a visible excitement that would emerge every time a student raised their hand. Over time I saw that this renewed spirit changed the attitudes of those in class, and they too found joy and energy in learning and participating.
These students taught me that to see change in the world, you have to become the change, and in that way we all affect each other. Our very spirit colors the waters of those around us, and collectively we shape each other’s development. Teaching English to in Thailand has revealed to me how deeply we influence one another. The children that were my students actually became the teachers that would further develop me into a conscious and socially aware person. We all DO make a difference. With every moment and every action we have the potential to change the trajectory of lives.
Written by: Brian Mule