My identity has been mistaken many times around the world. My old students in Vietnam thought I was an NBA basketball player. Locals in Morocco always thought I was a Moroccan. Too many countries actually thought I was Obama or that I was related to him. But never before have I been mistaken for a Power Ranger until I came to Pokhara, Nepal. This is probably my favorite mistake the world has made.
The kids at the school I teach are quite the characters. The positive attention I get from them is enormous and I’m bound to catch some sort of illness from the fact that they each want to shake my hand 27 times per day, especially the littler ones who always have dripping wet hands and snot oozing obliviously from their nostrils. One morning, a kid from a younger class walked up next to me and simply asked,
“Are you a Power Ranger?”
I laughed. That’s the best compliment I’ve ever received!
“Yes,” I responded with a smirk. “Yes, I am.”
The kid proceeded to tell his nearby friend that I was a Power Ranger and later on, word spread that a Power Ranger was in their school. I didn’t even know Power Rangers was still relevant anymore. That show premiered way, way back when I was their age; about two decades ago! Perhaps I looked like one of the actors from the more recent versions of the show. It began to stick. That and the fact that Tim and Emre have told all the students that I had five wives at home. I was a Power Ranger with five wives. I never told a kid which color ranger I was though. It’s a mystery, even to me.
It was the beginning of a typical new school day and just like every morning here, the students perform their morning ritual and then head to their first of eight classes per day.
I’ve been with the English and Social Studies teacher for a few days now and it’s been working out great! A lot better than my first day with the math classes. The Social Studies classes so far have been my favorite to teach. These certain classes have an emphasis on geography and the different regions, cultures, languages, etc associated with them. Who better to teach that around here than me? For the English classes, I teach alongside the teacher because apparently some things have changed since I was in elementary school. Example, what the heck is an auxiliary verb? We called those ‘helping verbs’ back in my day. For the Social Studies classes, the teacher lets me take full control, as she’s impressed with my knowledge of the world and it’s geography. Definitely my favorite subject to teach here.
During one of my break periods, Principal Aatma told me the teacher for class six is absent and they needed a teacher for the physical education class.
“I got it,” I told him.
I was more than happy to get outside with the students for some competitive action. There aren’t any set lesson plans here so I was able to do whatever I wanted. The equipment, for outside play is lacking: a few badminton sets, a couple of soccer balls, and a volleyball setup. The conditions here aren’t the best for soccer. One bad kick will send the ball flying down the mountain! So instead I setup the volleyball net and taught the boys the proper setup for volleyball. I gave the girls the badminton sets and let them have at that.
These guys have played volleyball before but it’s always been very sloppy and unorganized. I divided them into even teams of six and taught them the rotation method so that everyone gets an equal shot at each position on the court. They didn’t like the organized method at first but soon grew used to it and some actually preferred it over their usual setup. I was part of one team of lesser skilled students just to even out the playing field. We had some pretty intense games going on! But at the same time I was able to teach them a lot about team work and team spirit. I rarely ever hit the ball over the net; I always hit the ball towards another student on my team. And when we won our first game, I had them stand in two lines and walk past the opposing team, clapping their hands in good sportsmanship.
If I had more time here, I would definitely consider starting an after school athletics program between the few schools up here on this mountain. As far as I know, there aren’t any extra-curricular activities for the kids after school. The two they are keen on most, badminton and volleyball, are the most suitable for the terrain conditions. There’s barely a field large enough up here for soccer (football) without the ball constantly flying down the mountain. I’ll see what I can do later down the road.
The days here are pretty nice. I actually look forward to seeing all the kids everyday, especially the ones from the older classes. The school of about 250 students (about the size of my high school graduating class) are a fun bunch of cool little kids.
All of them like me, except for this one little girl in the baby class who is scared half to death every time she sees me. She’s maybe three years old and always wears a tiny green sweater and she hates me! I greet as many students that come my way everyday, but that little girl though, she wants none of it and runs away crying her eyes out every single time I come near. The other teachers think it’s hilarious and it kinda is. But…do I look like a monster? I know I have a mean look on my face sometimes but I promise that’s just my ‘thinking’ face. I still have some time to show that little girl I’m no monster but until then, she will run for her life whenever I wave to her. At least it’s amusing. I’ve managed to capture a photo of her.
The Power Ranger with five wives who is also a scary monster…I’ll take whatever I can get with these kids!