The Value of Imperfection by Emily Jude

25 05 2017

Dear, Family, Friends, Alumni Champions and Supporters,

My name is Emily Jude and I have just completed my 4th year of Kinesiology at UFV. I am a first year champion who just spent her last day teaching at Urlings Primary School. Writing this post, I am overwhelmed with the emotions that come from a place of sadness, but also a place of love and happiness. I cannot express how much I will miss my students, and the staff at Urlings. The school is very small, and there really is no better way to describe Urlings than family. From the moment my teaching partners and I walked into the school, we were welcomed with open arms. The staff are young, vivacious educators, who were consistently working alongside us to create the best possible learning opportunity for the students. I am so tremendously grateful, not only for the opportunity to have participated in this program, but to have had the pleasure of teaching at such an amazing school. In addition to being placed at this wonderful school, I was paired with not one, not two, but three outstanding teaching partners. Amy, Ashley, and Kirsten have had so much to offer between their experience, education, and diverse approaches to teaching. The luxury of getting to see how each teaches and what works for them, has allowed me to learn and grow every day. My time at Urlings would not have been what it was without their support.

I came into this experience with some coaching and child care experience, but for the most part I was completely out of my element. I am a champion who does not have a career goal as a teacher. My motivation for jumping into this experience was to discover what exactly my career goal is. I knew this experience would be an outstanding opportunity to develop skills for helping others learn to help themselves. Almost immediately upon arriving on island I realized that these goals were only the tip of the iceberg in regards to what I would learn and how I would grow as an individual.

As I began to learn more and more about my students, I found that I was learning just as much from them as they were from me. I have learnt how easy it is take advantage of things as simple as water, shoes, or a ball. The joy one ball can bring to a student’s face is enough to energize me for my entire day. I am a coffee lover, and since arriving on island I have had no desire for coffee. There is no need for caffeine when you can feed off the energy of Antiguan students all day. Something else the students have taught me, is that perfection really does not exist. I could be extremely prepared, have the best lesson plan, speak in my best teacher’s voice, and there would still be room for improvement somewhere. As someone who is always striving for perfection, this lesson of accepting imperfection as an opportunity for growth will be valuable as I move forward in my future endeavors. With the students continually providing me opportunities to improve, I have come to understand the value of imperfection. I have learnt that growth arises when we “aim for success, not perfection. Never give up our right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism” (David M. Burns).

Finally, one of the most impactful lessons I have received on the island came from a teacher at Urlings who was teaching grade 6 social studies. She was talking about cultures around the world and shared with her students that we do not have to understand why other cultures or religions do what they do, but we must respect what they do. I am grateful that this was a lesson I observed early in our experience, because I have come back to it many times along my journey here in Antigua. I may not understand everything I see here, but I respect it. Antiguan’s are some the kindest, most generous, and passionate people I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. For example, today the school held the most heartwarming assembly to say goodbye to my teaching partners and I. Students shared letters they had written, songs they had prepared for us, and showered us with hugs and tears. After the assembly, the teachers hosted us for the most amazing lunch I have ever had. The entire staff sat around the table like a fancy dinner and we enjoyed our entire lunch hour together. I have never felt more love and appreciation than I felt today. The family at Urlings went above and beyond for us today, and I will never forget my last day at Urlings Primary School.

After a month of being immersed in the Antiguan culture, I have grown to love and respect Antiguan’s immensely. As a result of the admiration I have grown for Antiguans, it has made saying goodbye that much harder. As I said goodbye to the students and teachers I have grown to love, I left them with this; even though I have to go back to Canada, a little piece of me will forever be at Urlings Primary School.

Sincerely,

Emily Jude

Urlings Primary School


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25 05 2017
Jenepher Sheppard

I will be thinking of all the Champions tomorrow as you participate in your final Unity games at Adele and Kirnon. As you begin your journey home, remember that you will stay in the hearts of all the students you have met just as they will stay in yours. Remember too, how proud we all are of you and the work you have been doing. But, most of all, REMEMBER TO STAY INSIDE THE CONES!!! Have fun!
Jenepher

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