I knew it would be a good day when I woke up and noticed the morning glories had taken over my bicycle wheel. They had managed to do that in just one night. Those teeny greedy hands grasping and twisting their way forever upward to greater light.
I love morning glories: their eager exploration and abundant generosity. No day ever the same. Each morning’s blessing so ephemeral: blossoms lasting only a few hours and then shrivelling into maimed fists of rapid decay.
But that morning, still blurry-eyed and bathrobe clad, I stumbled out to talk to this gentle intruder and to ever so carefully explain that she was welcome, but her place was elsewhere. She seemed to understand as she graciously yielded her delicate thread of green to my clumsy fingers. I twisted her round and round, extricating her from the spokes of my bicycle. Then I gave her a nice pole to climb and the next day she obliged me with a magnificent bouquet of purple trumpets.
Later, more awake, rushing to work, I came upon a sea of very well behaved, uniformed students. They were lined up in neat rows, obviously on a day’s outing. To the zoo? A park? A nursing home? A museum? I never queried, but I did speak to one fellow, who in jest had stuck his hand out to greet me, a big lumbering foreign woman.
He was fourteen, it turned out, and his name was Kenji. He had a sister, a pet dog and turtle. He loved sports and wanted to become a movie star. I learned all this in a few moments, as we shook hands and tried to make ourselves understood to one another. Of course, his buddies were rolling with laughter and hitting him repeatedly whenever he tried to say anything in English. Finally, his tall sedate teacher glided over, probably to check on the reason for all the commotion and to gently usher his charges towards their waiting bus.
That afternoon my own college students brought me their beautifully executed term projects: handmade books written in their marvellously circular English, following the pattern of their Japanese minds, and illustrated with teeny detailed drawings of people, pets, flowers, stars, kimonos and traditional food.
It delights me no end when uninterested students wake up and as if by metamorphosis are suddenly able to produce wonderfully imaginative pieces of craft. They become so eager to please this stern, demanding teacher. So of course, they leave my office beaming from the praise I shower upon them.
I have had them clean up the rubbish in parks, photograph it, categorise it, and ask questions about who threw it and why. Most kids come back from this exercise as advocates for maintaining cleanliness in public places. They tell me it helped them stop and think whenever they find themselves ready to toss a wrapper or plastic bottle under a bush or on the street.
When we think of summer jobs, we often think of teenagers and college students home for the break. Summer jobs for adults don’t seem to enter into the picture. However, with the employment market recovering slowly, and with some adults looking to make up lost hours, some of my college students and teenagers might find themselves competing for positions with older adults.
Whether you have seen a reduction in hours, or whether you are just looking for a little supplemental income this summer, an extra job can be just the thing. Here are some things to think about if you are an adult looking for a job:
Working Around Your SchoolSchedule: Evenings and Weekends
During the summer, you might find that you have some options for finding work in your locality. In my college town, there are a number of retail, fast food, payday lenders, restaurant and calling centre businesses in the locality, all available during the summer months as the students go away. In many cases, it is possible to find work in the evenings and weekends. An increase in business is expected — coinciding with a decrease in workforce. Apply at jobs around town. In my town there are plenty of money-lenders like I mentioned, all employing staff at the busier weekends read more on them here. If you are willing to work evenings, weekends and holidays, you might discover that there are a number of options available to you. One of the best options for many is bartending or waiting tables. You can really clean up in tips if you work in the right place, and you rarely have to work during the day.
If you Don’t Already Have a Job: Resorts, Hotels, and Summer Camps
For adults who don’t have another job, there are a number of jobs that can be done during the summer time. You can see what seasonal opportunities there are at resorts, hotels and summer camps. Check with local marinas, parks and campgrounds. If you enjoy working with children, you can look for jobs at summer camps or day camps. Apply to be a tour guideat nearby historical sites and attractions if you know a lot about your area. If you don’t mind traveling and need the job, you can apply at amusement parks and tourist attractions in other states.
Even if you have a day job, you can hire on for evening work at nearby seasonal resorts. In some cases, local hotels might hire more help for evenings at the restaurant or bar, and you could do that in addition to your more traditional 9-to-5 job. Find out what summer seasonal opportunities are available in the early morning as well. If you don’t have to be in until a little later, you might be able to pick up three-hours helping at a resort hotel’s 5 am to 8 am breakfast. You might be surprised at the seasonal options in your local area.
Creating Your Own Job
In many cases, it is possible to create your own job as an adult. You can offer a variety of services to work around your own schedule. These services can include:
- House cleaning
- Yard care
- Minor maintenance and repairs
- Hauling (helpful if you own a truck)
- Helping others with computer research
- Day care/babysitting
These are all services that many people need during the summer. Hire yourself out for services on the weekends, or on days when you aren’t working. Just make sure that you have all of the proper licenses that might be required in your state. Often at the weekend the last thing people feel like doing is working, making it a perfect time to get yourself some weekend cash, while they go out and spend theirs!
Improving the environment
My students make lists of promises of how they personally plan to improve the environment. Later in the term they chart their progress and discuss the experiences they had doing something concrete in their immediate area. Many students tell me it was the first time they felt empowered to actually make a difference, no matter how small.
They also text message each other on their mobile phones, in English, of course. They write snail mail letters to me, not only for them to learn how to write an address and a letter in English, but also to help me build up my collection of exquisite Japanese stamps!
I have them write recipes and then actually make the dishes so we can have a class party and sample their delicious treats.
There are so many wonderful possibilities to make English learning be alive, fun and relevant. The authorities in my college, however, do not get it. I was let go from my job because, “We don’t like the way you teach”, even though they had never stepped foot into my classroom. Yet, despite the dismissive, demeaning outlook of the administration that cost me my job, I can walk away proudly, knowing “my” kids’ hearts and minds were opened, even if only for a split second in time and space. And I trust that little glimmer of joy in my own heart is a memory I will carry with me forever.