Georgia Year Four: A Battery of Hugs

Cannon to right of them, 
Cannon to left of them, 
Cannon behind them 
Volley’d and thunder’d; 
Storm’d at with shot and shell, 
While horse & hero fell, 
They that had fought so well 
Came thro’ the jaws of Death, 
Back from the mouth of Hell, 
All that was left of them, 
Left of six hundred.

Excerpt from “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sometimes when I arrive at school I feel besieged on all sides, attacked from right, left, and behind.  Storm’d at with shot and shell–well more like storm’d at with hugs and “Hello!”

Everyday at school, I am greeted by a battery of hugs.  The younger students wait in the foyer for their head teacher to arrive and unlock their classrooms.  They line the benches and stand by the windows, looking out, eager for their teacher to arrive.  Instead, I walk in the gate and up the steps.  Thro’ the jaws of Death and back [into] the mouth of Hell.

But, when they see me, their faces light up.  “Hello, mas!” they shout as they countercharge.  David at a full sprint, palm outstretched, leaning into a High Five.  Luka grinning through his missing teeth and telling me he’s “finethanksandyou?”  Ana giving me a long hug and smiling up at me.  Ninutsa kissing my cheek.  Older students waving, some saying “Hi,” others saying “What’s up, ძმა?”

It’s a daily ritual we repeat ad infinitum.

As I get closer and closer to the Teachers’ Room, I find myself slipping into Georgian and Russian for my greetings.  “გამარჯობა,” and “Привет,” coming as naturally as “Hello.”

And that’s when it drives home, that I’m abroad and I’m teaching children.  And it’s awesome.

When can their glory fade? 
O the wild charge they made! 
All the world wonder’d. 
Honour the charge they made! 
Honour the Light Brigade, 
Noble six hundred!

Never.  The glory never fades.


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