Tirta’s tired eyes popped open at the sound of his cell phone ringing. It wasn’t often he got a call, but as he lay in a hospital bed, he hoped it was his family calling to check on him. A smile spread across his face as he heard the comforting voice of his brother.
Tirta grew up in a tiny village far into the jungles of a remote island. When he was 12 years old he decided he wanted to go to school. Usually the journey consists of a 2 day trek through the mountains followed by a short plane ride into the Highland valley. Tirta, however, didn’t have the money for the plane ride, so he and his brothers hiked for 2 weeks up through the peaks and down through the valleys of the mountainous terrain before arriving at his small middle school. Tirta has never taken his education for granted. He worked hard through middle and high school, and upon graduation, we invited him to join our brand new teacher training program.
Here Tirta was, 2 months into the program, when his appendix ruptured. Thankful to be in a city with hospitals, he patiently endured the surgery to get his appendix taken out. Within just the last few years, radios had made it to his tiny village in the jungle. Someone had radioed in that Tirta was in the hospital. Not knowing any details, Tirta’s brother hurried to find cell phone service. Usually the trek to find cell phone service takes two days, but this was an emergency. Tirta’s brother didn’t stop and was able to make the trek in only 18 hours.
Relief overwhelmed his brother as Tirta reported that the appendix surgery was a success and he would soon be released from the hospital. As Tirta hung up the phone he looked up to see one of his teachers sitting beside him in the hospital. Jules leaned over to Tirta and said, “When you get well, I’ll take you to do anything you’d like. What’s your dream?” Once again a smile spread across Tirta’s face. “I want to ride a train. I’ve never seen one and I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like.” Yesterday Jules and I took the three students in our teacher training program on their first train ride. When the train pulled into the station I looked over at Harta as awe consumed his face. Tirta smiled. Kashi giggled a little. As we boarded the train, they were anxious to learn. “How do the wheels work without tires? Can you walk from car to car? What happens if one of the cars gets disconnected?” It was such a joy to experience this day along side them.
Once in the big city, we took them to the biggest mall. They were grateful that they had learned how to use an escalator a few weeks ago because this mall had so many! They marveled at the restaurants, automatic hand dryers, and a store that only sold stuffed animals. Every time I looked over at Tirta, he was grinning from ear to ear. It was so refreshing to be reminded of the many things I take for granted. I have so much to learn from my students. Let us never forget to find joy in the ordinary.