First day blues

by Evans Yonson

(Note: Today’s entry was suggested by Nash Alonto.)

Barcelona – In today’s entry, I would like to go back to my primary years in the Jesuit school that I went to. On my fourth grade, we were asked to memorize a poem by Joyce Kilmer.

“I think I shall never see, A poem as lovely as a tree…”

This really made me shiver right down to the marrow. And I thought we were only up to memorizing the poem. Everyone was asked to stand in front of the class. This standing up in class happened every two months thereafter, and we had to memorize new and longer poems. I fell in love with Walt Whitman’s poem till I reached high school.

“O captain! My captain! our fearful trip is done;…”

While these experiences may sound inconsequential to today’s blog, I believe that these have led me to where I am today -as a person, a lecturer, and a teacher. But what really are first day blues? As a teacher and trainer for several years now, do I still feel the first day blues?

Certainly, I still do!!!

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It is totally different if you’re the one sitting down as a student and if you’re standing up as the teacher or the trainer. For both sides, we all have our own first day blues. As a student/participant, I am always anxious of the subject or topics that the professor will be discussing in class.

As a lecturer, I always feel the newly turned butterflies in my stomach not just dozens but hundreds of them. It feels like a garden of grasshoppers, butterflies, beetles, and the whole family of Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea, in what everybody might call a grand reunion of sorts. As the person standing in front of learners, I always make sure that I study my presentation very well. I prepare weeks before if I am going to hold a new lecture. Otherwise, I will only review my previous notes of the topics that I will be talking about in class.

It really helped that I became a stage actor when I was in the university. The so-called stage fright has gone back to its cocoon and waiting for another metamorphosis. Hopefully to become another beautiful butterfly. Being prepared for your lines and confident of what you are going to say with a lot of convictions make those tension fly away.

The first day blues is like travelling to a new place alone. Here you are a total stranger to the culture and language of a foreign land. Nothing beats a smile. A simple nod to say hello won’t cost you a thing. I spent my Christmas 2009 in Marrakech, Morocco. I don’t speak Arabic nor any Amazigh language nor French and meeting Ayoub, a Moroccan kiosk owner, on Christmas day was truly special. I was very reluctantly to open up to a local but I took the risk. Then I got a free three-hour guided tour of the untrodden must places of that side of Morocco.

Every time I enter a classroom now, I have confidence and gratitude that would take those blues away. I am reminded of Whitman’s dead captain but no, I always go back to Joyce Kilmer and remember all my travels.

“Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”