Failing Forward

with Daniel Cassadio

Chapter 7 - Toe Poked Expectation

Chapter EntriesDaniel CasadioComment

I wrote this blog: 

In my dorm, where I’m volunteering. I’ve got washing that’s been needed to be done for the past week now. The smell is really catching on. 


The community where I was in Samataz, has honestly been such a highlight of my adventure. A few days before leaving Samataz I really questioned if I should leave this place. I mean I was really happy; everyday included a great chat, a volleyball game and a real fun cooking dinner party.

On my last day, it was getting everything all packed and then saying a quick goodbye to everyone at the community. Because it was so rushed and so many people to say goodbye to, it was a shame I couldn’t express to each individual how much I would genuinely miss them. When one of the volunteers dropped me off at the train station, said a final goodbye to an awesome French guy and then I was all alone. From being completely immersed and living with almost 60 international volunteers by the end to now being completely and utterly alone. It wasn’t the best feeling. But life goes on.

I was in Brussels for a couple of days and there I tried to just lay a low, unwind, relax and try to spend as little money as possible. It’s always nice though when the receptionist makes a big deal and shouts out Australia or acts like a Kangaroo whenever I walk in.

Then a few moments later, I was on a train leaving Brussels and going to Landen. Where is Landen? Somewhere in Belgium, I have no idea, half the time I never know where I am. But I’m teaching English in this massive house/mansion, they call it a castle but I feel like it’s a bit of an ambitious title. Nevertheless, the acoustics are incredible and when you speak it echoes through all the rooms. So obviously I beat box. Way too much.

In this mansion/castle I’m teaching English, the owners of this place run a summer school for students who want to learn either English, French or Mathematics. The students stay and live with us in mansion/castle during the week-long program. It has been an incredible journey so far. This first week I only had 2 students, but I loved it. It allowed me to get a real and genuine connection with both of them. The problem I have with teaching is that I still have a student mind. I had this problem when I was in Nepal. I would always be finding ways to give them as little homework as possible, as little work sheets as possible, more games and more fun talking and having a conversation. Which I do actually think that knowing how to actually communicate and have a conversation is such a key thing to learning a new language.

When I’m not teaching English, the other volunteers and I are out playing football with the kids. It’s a bit scary though because I’m playing football with loads of Spanish kids and I’m wearing my Gareth Bale Real Madrid jersey – so they are expecting me to do like bicycles and volleys to the top corner. I tried my best to live up to this expectation to the point where one of the really good Spanish students Pablo crossed the ball into me and it was perfect for a bicycle kick. I jumped into the air and attempted to do a bicycle but somehow I toe pocked the ball high into the sky and landed straight onto my back and bum. The ball went out of bounds by at least 50 m. My bum was hurting, my back was hurting, my dignity was hurting but they were all laughing. Which made me laugh.

On this adventure, I don’t know how many times I’ve laughed at myself. Countless. That’s all part of it though. Whether you’re travelling or you’re settled somewhere I think it’s incredibly important to constantly take risks, talk to strangers, try new things, make mistakes and then laugh at yourself.

This week I promise to be a more productive teacher.