Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Name:
Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Hazards of Small-Town Teaching

One of the main difficulties of being a teacher in a village is that you can never really get away from your job. Teachers in larger towns or metropolitan areas can leave work and be reasonably certain that they won't run into any of their students until the first period starts the following day. I'm pretty much guaranteed to see at least one of my students every time I leave my apartment. Often I see them without leaving my apartment-- my building is right next to one of the villages two bus stops, and it also adjoins a small store that sells school supplies, cigarettes, and candy (among other things). Every time I look out my windows, they're there.

This usually doesn't bother me. When we meet on the street, most of the kids are friendly and respectful. We just say hi to each other and then keep walking. I'm not 'cool,' so it's not like they want to have conversations with me. Then again, I wouldn't object if they did-- they're nice enough kids.

In general.

When I was walking to the mom-and-pop grocery store yesterday I ran into one of my eighth-grade remedial students on his bike. He was accompanied by two younger boys who I didn't know. We exchanged 'Hallos' and kept walking-- standard procedure. But then, when they were maybe 10 yards behind me, one of them shouted: 'Feine Arsch, Ms. Muncy!' Nice ass, Ms. Muncy.

I had no idea how to react to this-- after all, it isn't every day that prepubescent boys yell suggestive comments at me. If they'd been in school I would have hauled them in front of their homeroom teachers and reamed them out thoroughly, but they were on the path to the grocery store, so I just pretended I didn't hear them and kept walking.

This morning I talked to a colleague-- a grandmotherly biology teacher-- about the situation, and she told me that I should have shouted back at them: 'Yes, it's much prettier than yours!'

Perhaps I'll try this next time.

Really, although their comments were disrespectful and inappropriate, I also find the whole situation very funny. Especially since they picked my butt-- which stands out only because it's so small that I have to wear belts all the time. Otherwise my pants fall off. Jennifer Lopez I'm not.

Well, if they were trying to get a rise out of me, it didn't work. But I think that from now on I'll do my grocery shopping in less revealing clothing. Instead of jeans and a sweater, I'll put on a nice, modest Carmelite habit, or perhaps a burqa.

104 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the response the older teacher suggested, but then again, I think I'd probably do what you did and act like I didn't hear a thing. Mom

11:32 PM  
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Adie,

Sounds like the boys will be boys no matter what country they live in. Manners they will always be lacking at that age and some probably much older. You can always be hopeful that they will grow up in time or if worse comes to worse, have a good comeback and embarrass them.

Judy

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New York Times, April 16.
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