The Spoils of Teaching

“Miss, I am going to present about coffee now. Please, let me make you a cup. ”

I smile and thank her profusely as she hands me the cup. Secretly, I am dreading it. I hate drinking coffee. It has the most disgusting flavor- bitter, with a strong after taste. Since moving to Saudi Arabia, I have had more cups of coffee than I have ever wanted to drink in my entire life.

She presents. Her English isn’t good- neither is her coffee- but she is very enthusiastic. She is a repeat student. Sometimes it is hard teaching here. I know that there is some brilliance radiating within the minds of some of my students, yet they fail courses because they can’t convey those thoughts in my native language.

Everything here is decorated and cute and fancy. They can never just offer you a plain piece of candy. It’s always tucked away inside a colorful wrapper, taped onto a piece of decorated cardboard within a classy serving bowl. Their presentations are equally decorated. Visual aids always exist, and are often elegant. It almost feels like an overcompensation for their lack of English, as if they are conveying what is inside their minds not with words but with their gifts they bestow upon the audiences.

The next girl wants to talk about art. She herself is an artist in her spare time. She hands us all bookmarks that she painstakingly created. I look through the bookmarks, admiring her talent, before selecting one. I hope this student goes on to accomplish big things in her life, but for now, I am going to let her tell me about art.





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