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Adventures in the Low Lands

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Giving a presentation on my life so far to a class of Dutch teenagers

 

I was naturally a little bit nervous at the thought of teaching English in a Dutch high school and didn’t really know what to expect. However, I have been really surprised at how good the placement has been. I was immediately struck by just how relaxed, friendly and calm the school environment was. Some teachers may be surprised by that but I have been to some schools in London with their own police station! Wherever you go teenagers are teenagers and have similar behaviour and concerns as their UK counterparts. Vivid memories of my own school years have helped me to empathise with the pupils. The main attraction to teaching is seeing the potential in young minds and helping pupils to realise and achieve all that they are able to be. That of course is the ‘ideal’ – my impression is that nowadays teachers have to cope with more social and behavioural issues.

 

 

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Assisting in an English class

It is a joy to encounter pupils who are keen to learn and actively engage with a native English speaker, this takes a lot of courage! Helping and encouraging pupils who are struggling is extremely satisfying. The reward is seeing the delight on their faces when they realise their English is better than they first thought and that they can actually do it. I have enjoyed conversing and getting to know the pupils and staff. Teaching like my previous job in nursing seems to be based on relationship. Without rapport your effectiveness suffers.

 

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Into battle – preparing to face the high school pupils – an afternoon of laser shooting 

One of the things that makes this such a different and rewarding experience is being here as a Jesuit novice. I have no agenda of my own. I am at the school’s service. Being a Jesuit for me has something to do with being generous with myself and my time. Whether this is staying behind to help a pupil, prepare lessons or simply just to chat, I am available. The challenge has been to fit in time with God in a busy working day. The same type of prayer pattern in the protective bubble of the novitiate is impossible to recreate here. But then that is not me either. I have always found God in my work and so my work becomes my prayer. The difference is that now I spend extra time to reflect on the work and God’s presence in the day. This contemplation is fruitful in helping me to see God at work in the daily events and the people I encounter. 

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