It was definitely weird running into some of my students last night in a club. To end my (second day of) birthday festivities, we’d finally made it downtown to dance the night away to some pretty good live music. We were in remarkably good shape, considering it was after midnight, and we’d started before six.
After stumbling in, laughing because we thought we’d gotten in free (not quite). Of course we sat down, ordered wine and juice (don’t ask), and the smokers in the crowd lit up for a much appreciated nicotine high. I’m gesticulating wildly to make a point, when all of a sudden I feel a tap on my shoulder.
“Thérèse! Comment ça va!?!?”
“Oh my God, it’s my students.” I am surprised and speechless. “Hey, y’all.”
The guys thought it was great, having only seen me out having a good time one or two times before. I was self-conscious for about ten minutes before I realized that now that these three boys had caught me smoking, I wouldn’t have any problems lighting up again the next time I went out after an English club meeting or something. Sweet!
I consider them my “students” because they attend my computer classes, but the reality is that a lot of them are just about my age. Any awkwardness disappeared once we all hit the dance floor. Beninese dancing isn’t the same as American dancing (unless we’re grinding, we take it much less seriously), and my students definitely got a kick out of watching us bounce around the floor, having a great time with whomever was lucky enough to get in our way.
Nights like last night take a lot of the edge off my frustration. If nothing else, it speaks of the incredible friends I have in the volunteer community, and my increasing integration into the Beninese community. I woke up this morning feeling like I could take on the world, and you know what? With friends like mine to stand behind me, I’m pretty sure I can.