La segunda semana: La escuela San Alberto Patria

After some coordination, I was able to successfully arrange my volunteer placement at the local school in the San Alberto Parish. There are 50 children, all of which are between the ages of five and 12 and have abundant energy. They are rather timid and most have never seen a ‘gringa’ before. The teacher took everything in stride, introduced me and sat me with the four youngest girls. The class of 30 is divided into four smaller sections based on age. So I sit with the youngest group. Ruby, Anahi, Sareli, and Nancy started of very shy but with some questions and coloring assistance I was quickly accepted into the group. All throughout the first day I received many stares when the children thought I wouldn’t notice. Responding with a smile normally made them a little more friendly and slowly the bravest of the groups started to stop by the table to visit. The first day ended early since the teacher needed to go to Otavalo for personal business; which means that the next day the students didn’t have class. When I returned I received just as many strange looks as before, but they lasted for less time, a period of adjustment. I again worked with the younger kids. The one teacher is extremely over-worked. She flits from group to group instructing for a few minutes and doling out assignments. However, the assignments do not occupy the children for long and by the time she is assigning something to the next group the first has finished and are very chaotic. For the rest of the week I was unofficially left to tend the four niñitas by myself. We did the colors amarillo, rojo, and verde, as well as six pages in the workbook. They are rather inattentive but adorable, they are constantly bouncing from group to group to see what the others are learning. All of the children seem amused by my spanish and if I can understand them I know it has improved. They all speak incredibly fast and very quietly, especially to a stranger like me.

For the last hour I teach, the oldest two groups English. As of right now they know a few animals, colors, and numbers. I spent this weekend making worksheets to reinforce vocabulary and I hope that this preparation will help them stay interested. We were working on names and ages and no one really wanted to volunteer to answer, and most refused to answer even when I called them out and helped them. But that’s okay, I am patient and they are slowly becoming more comfortable with me. They’re beautiful children, constantly playing and laughing with each other and very excited to learn. I hope I can build more on that excitement with the weeks to come!

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One thought on “La segunda semana: La escuela San Alberto Patria

  1. Alex! Thank you for sharing your reflections so far! I can only imagine how challenging the teaching situation is (those blank looks when no one wants to/are too shy to respond). But I think they will warm up to you more and more. I totally agree that sometimes what we learn more than anything is patience–and an ability to be malleable and keep trying other techniques at getting the students engaged. I am glad to hear that things sound like they are going well so far, despite (because of) any classroom challenges. I really like hearing about your host family! I have only milked an animal once (a goat) but I did work on an organic dairy farm for a month (they had a milking machine though). I miss that simplicity of waking with the sun and the regularity of farm chores. Too bad you cannot give Ryan Lewis a big glass of milk (he mentioned in one of his blog entries that one of the things he misses most is a tall glass of cold milk). I am excited to keep reading about all the facets of your home life and school teaching. Cheers!

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