If an American from the South had heard my bogus southern accent, that person probably would have thrown a bowl of grits in my direction or doused me with sweet tea. My Australian year 8’s, however, didn’t particularly detect the lack of authenticity.
They actually seemed somewhat engaged as I read them The Outsiders, so I drawled out the dialogue and got my y’alls polished up real good.
It’s not every day that you experience a victory in education. In fact, a VE day can be pretty elusive, like looking for a rare bird or any endangered species. When I was an exchange teacher in Australia, finding success was like searching for the dodo. Non-existent.
I felt like such an incompetent teacher, and every time I talked to my Australian counterpart, Dash, who was teaching my American classes, his updates deflated my spirits even more.
“Ah, yeah! Steph, we had a breakthrough today in Senior English; Madelynn* read a poem, revealing the abuse and torment she experienced as a child,” he e-mailed me one day. “It was the first time she’d told anyone. The event was so cathartic that we all had a good cry.”