Monday, November 14, 2011

Work / Pay

The twin eight year old girls were under the table tying the laces of my shoes together and laughing riotously. I waited patiently for them to return to the lesson. I was teaching them to read English. With an American mother and Swiss father, they had grown up here in Zurich, speaking both English and German. Their academic parents had found jobs in the US and were moving the next month. Though the girls could speak both languages fluently, they had had little practice reading English. I had the job, teach them to before they got on the plane.

One of the girls tries to climb up on my shoulders, her sister stands before me in a challenging attitude, says:

- I know you are paid. I heard my mother and father talking. You only come here for money. You don't really like us.
- I like you. So much I would teach you for free. Often I do teach for free.
- Then why are you paid?
- I need money to live. Sometimes people have to do what they don't like for money. But I don't. Not now. Do you know what I think the problem is here?
- What?
- You don't want to take the lessons, and think you should be paid for it.
- You don't really like us. You know we don't want to practice English.
- I know you will have trouble in school if you arrive without being able to read. I am looking ahead.
- Really?
- Really. Can we start reading now? Tell your sister to get off my shoulders. And untie my shoes!