When I first met my students my heart must have been racing a thousand miles per hour. I could literally hear it pounding through my shirt that I was wearing, the Ebep Intercambio shirt that they have given all of us, with the word “Monitor” printed on the back. Each of us were excited, nervous and giddy- it was an array of emotions we have never felt before, one that was unique onto its own.
How would my students react to me? Will they find me nothing like my Facebook personality, the one that they have been interacting with for months now, or would they instantly like me as a person? As a teacher? Can I live up to my expectations, as well as theirs as a teacher? My eyes were shifting around the auditorium as I thought this. The kids began to pour in now, one by one. Slowly making their way to their seats as each of them look around the stage eagerly for their own teacher.
Finally, it happened. My eyes met those of a student who I have been communicating with for months now. He smiled at me and I smiled back. And then he waved! Wow. It’s nice to have face-to-face communication after ALL this time. Although there were no fireworks going off in celebration I could swear I now heard those and happy music accompanying this monumental moment in my mind.
I heard someone gasp. It was a girl’s voice from the audience, and I instantly recognized it, since I was doing webcam sessions with this same voice for weeks now as well. It was another student of mine! I was filled with instant happiness.
After all the students gathered in the auditorium we listened to some speeches that proved to be inspirational and motivating for me. Mary Gershwin, the head of the program had tears in her eyes as she spoke. It moved me to see that.
After, we went outside for some food and music, which was played by the students. The students sure could play! As the songs went on, the crowd began to do the thing that every Brazilian is known for doing: dancing! With one song that played, the students commanded me to jump on cue with the beat. It was then that it occurred to me. These students did not care that you were sweaty, or nervous, or scared. These students had no inhibitions and got lost within the music. This culture craves energy and wants you to have fun. And that’s exactly what I did. I had fun.
What surprised me the most was the energy the students brought. It pulsated throughout their entire body and shook their spirit. We were all one, American, Brazilian, whatever we were. When they danced, you wanted to dance too. When they smiled you smiled. When you moved, they moved with you. Facebook made us virtual friends. However dance, movement and music brought us together as people. These elements were influential to our first impression of our students. My anxiety, fear and nervousness was pushed to the back of my mind.
It was a night that I would never forget for the rest of my life.