International Students

IMG_1797I have always been more intrigued by people from other countries than from America. In my undergrad, I had the pleasure of living in the International Residence Hall. I noted that the students dressed better and danced/partied harder than Americans. My job with the Language School here in Bronx, New York has again proven these two observations correct. I’ve seen 15 year old girls in gladiator sandals and overalls that ACTUALLY looked good, as well as more than my share of Nike sneakers in various colors. I have also been told about weed and clubbing by 16 year old males, and I’ve used the term straight-edge to describe myself more in this one week than in my entire life. Imagine their surprise when I said I have never smoked weed (and don’t plan to in the future).
Overall, this job has been very enjoyable. I took a group of 20-25 foreigners to Times Square on a subway, with more ease than I thought I would have. This success is largely due to the iPhone & my coworker who was on the subway as well, but I chalk it up as a success for myself nonetheless. On this excursion, the words No Child Left Behind brought a smile to my face. Tonight, we had a carnival, and I had the ‘pleasure’ of being pied in the face for the very first time in my life. One student complimented me on my running abilities, comparing me to the great Usain Bolt. To me, I felt more like an gazelle being chased by ten lions.
The lions won.
Of course, it hasn’t all been perfect.

Tonight, I had my first true confrontation. We had a situation with bullying earlier this week, but unfortunately we did not know all the kids involved. So, I made a point to mention it to all my students in the floor meeting tonight. Then, my coworker mentioned another point, which prompted a response from the Brazilian IGL.
Word: IGL – International Group Leader, think nanny or substitute guardian while the students are in America. They can offer assistance while traveling with students in New York or build irritation when making unnecessary complaints.
He said that it was the students who were talking during meetings and causing chaos that were responsible for the bullying. Point made, but I still informed him that the message had to be given to all students. I was then met with phrases in Portuguese and laughter from Brazilian students.
Me(verbatim): “This meeting is OVER. I’m not going to sit here and be cussed out in Portuguese.”
Then, I walked out and went to the office to inform my manager. In hindsight, my tone may have been a little too harsh when talking about bullying, but it comes from experience. I dealt with bullying growing up, both as a victim and a spectator. Being well aware of its consequences, I can’t allow it on my watch, especially when the victims were three & four years younger than the perpetrators. So, maybe Jumaane apologizes for his tone, but he damn sure doesn’t apologize for his message or his walk out of the room. And I’ll have you know, Jumaane KILLS a walk out of a room.

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