These are two of the first questions I learned in language school when I moved to Indonesia just two years ago. They are important questions when making small talk with someone you’ve just met.
Are you married? How many children do you have?
I never would have dreamed when I first moved here that just two years later, at the age of 25 I would answer, “Eleven! I have eleven daughters!” But every morning, at 5:30, I wake to the sounds of my daughters bustling around the house, cooking breakfast, washing their clothes getting ready for their day. Today, they are one step closer to becoming a teacher. And today, they are one step closer to changing the world.
We just recently opened our second dorm as a part of our teacher training program. This dorm is my new home, and these girls call me mom. As we sat in a circle that first night, after a busy day of moving and getting settled, I couldn’t help but smile as I looked around the room at each of their faces. Each one had a sparkle in her eye. Each one was ready to learn. Each one was now a part of my family.
A few days into my new role as mom I was feeling a little exhausted. I went from having zero children to having eleven! I walked out of my room one morning with my hair mangled, my eyes barely open. But as I opened my door, my soul was instantly given life. Hati was in the living room teaching Risa and Sati to dance. Elti was in the kitchen teaching Ati how to cook breakfast. Tia and Sara were washing clothes together out back. The girls froze and looked over at me, wondering if they were in trouble for dancing in the living room or making too much noise. But such joy spread across my face, and we all burst out laughing together.
Just last week 9 of my daughters started freshman orientation at a university that we partner with in our city. “Mom I’m so nervous!” Ati said to me. I peered into her eyes, the most gorgeous eyes I have ever seen. Ati’s mother died years ago and her father deserted her. I knew it was a miracle that she had found our program. But I also knew she was born to be a teacher. She is a teacher to every person she interacts with, and is daily selflessly pouring into those around her. “You’ll do great,” I said to her, giving her a kiss on the forehead.
As I peer in to the eyes of each of my daughters, I know I am peering into the eyes of the future. These girls are going to impact this country. These girls are going to go out to schools all over Indonesia and transform them. The children are ready, and waiting. Today, I get to live life alongside some child’s future teacher.