A product of the Minnesota winter wonderland, Iman was born in a snowstorm in the great city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up in a Lebanese-Scandinavian-American household filled with siblings and languages. She taught English as a second language to middle school students in Minneapolis before deciding to explore beyond the city she had known since birth. Learning, connecting, and moving transports Iman through life, whether in biking, yoga practice, skiing, or the arts. An adventurer, a “yes”-sayer, Iman has enjoyed exploring the world and nature, travelling and camping in North America and abroad. Iman taught English to grade 4, 5, and 6 students at Rukubji Primary School.
Blog: Bhutan: a year in haiku
story from the field
Walking after school
From the first day, I began the routine of taking a walk after school. An athlete at home, I needed a way to keep my body moving and wind down after teaching. Since Rukubji is a small village surrounded by mountains and forest, there are beautiful paths to walk. Yet the best walks have been on the road with my students. Many students at my primary school walk for up to an hour to reach school each day.
Walking them home has become a favorite activity. At first, the students were a bit shy to talk and ask questions, but that quickly faded. They began torrential questioning, asking me about all the things I know and don’t know. They began to open up, to talk about their lives, to share jokes, songs, and stories. I can hear the improvement in their English too, as they try to make me understand- searching for words, asking for meanings. They now ask me “Where are you walking today Miss?”, eager that I’ll say the name of their village.
I have developed relationships with my students that would not be possible without these walks. I have learned who they are beyond the classroom, something that is far more difficult to do in an American school. Knowing who they are has helped me teach them. I can draw on my experiences with them and contextualize and connect what we are learning.
One of my favorite walks began with teaching the words to “Doe, a deer …” from “The Sound of Music”. By the time we had reached the road from the path out of Rukubji, I had the whole crew of Chazam-bound students chanting at the top of their voices. We sang the entire 3-kilometer walk, entering the village of Chazam as if we were the musical itself.
These walks will forever be in my heart because of the students who made them so memorable.