Early on Wednesday I felt the usual rush of butterflies as the lush greenery basked in a grey light from the heavy monsoon sky that I haven’t been a part of for the past two months comes into sight. During those months, Van and I had been communicating with our trainee virtually as he teaches independently. Now, we return for more on-site observations and assess how we should move forward with our teacher training.
Another day, another flight. Van and I jest and bet on how many hours delay the plane will have today. Internal flights in Myanmar are usually delayed for one reason or another. Check-in did not disappoint as an eager young man informed us with regret that there was an unforeseen, unknown delay. Van and I just grinned back at him; as the other tourists reacted with panic, alarm and a touch of frustration. After a mere 40 minutes, with popping ears, I glanced out of the window and saw a fleeting, bright mega-watt smile that I instantly recognise.
Van, our teacher trainee, and I had admirable contact over the Internet since my departure, but it’s always a different matter to see someone in the flesh. He looks thinner and more drawn than in May. We have irrefutable evidence that food and nutrition is completely, unequivocally linked with being lively and motivated as he tells us that both he and his mother haven’t really been eating regular meals. Our trainee is bright and smart, but the worry, stress and pressure seem to have dampened his internal light which now flickers forlornly as a blue apparition instead of the deep orange fire he had for football, education and life when I first met him in October.
As the monsoon rain beats against our windows, we watch and contemplate. We make lists; plan and prioritize. A street vendor tries to ply his wares without much success. Colourful balloons probably aren’t a necessity when you have to swim to work, and yet I can’t help but think that an injection of colour is exactly what would help in the bleak grey stream of liquid which falls unrelenting from the heavy sky.
We will accompany the trainee to his home village where we can properly assess the situation and see what adjustments we can and should make.
NEH Coordinator and Teacher Trainer
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