The last couple weeks were really good. I feel like everyday gets a little bit better with routine and communication and feeling more comfortable. I can’t believe we’ve been here for almost 2 months now. In the class the kids are learning about the family, different parts of nature, basic spatial math stuff, and language/writing. Last week we had some special days that were fun and out of the norm. The first was on Sunday with a huge activity called Kermes. With these the volunteers organize and facilitate a campus wide activity for 2ish hours. We do this every 2 months. This time we had a huge scavenger hunt and everyone in each group was tied together through their belt loops which was a bit comical. I worked with my kids with special needs. At the end the grand prize was a bon fire with marsh mellows and this yummy German bread thing. It was fun, although a bit tiring. Then the 14th of course was Día del Cariño. Every class decorated their rooms and people shared cards and gifts. We had mass mid morning as well. Later that night all the tíos and tías had a fiesta with good food and a gift exchange and music. It was nice, but to be honest for a minute here, I crawl into bed well before nine, so I didn’t stay for too long. The second holiday was on that Friday. It’s called Carnaval and I had never heard of it before now. All the kids get really into. There’re elaborate costumes, decorations, dance competitions, and a chance to hit people over the head with eggs (don’t ask me…). Although we didn’t do this last part at the school because its messy, it’s customary during Carnaval to decorate egg shells and fill them with confetti and then smash them over the heads of other people. Sounds fun, I’d give it a whirl.
Here’s a few pic of my kiddos in costumes J
This week that I just finished up has been really good. I feel like we’re finally getting into a routine and the other teacher and I are learning how to work together. We always start the day with a prayer that the kids trade off (and its even super great with the kids who are nonverbal, I love it). Every day at the end of class we award the star stickers like an award where each kid walks to the front of the class and we applaud them. I really like these things because the kids are learning to step out in front of a group of people and to be proud of themselves. This week has also been really good because we started some different classes like music and physical education. They absolutely love it, and I know I appreciate a change in pace as well. I’m taking it on as a personal goal to hunt down some of these specialty teachers to see if they have space for us in their schedules. My next mission – the religions teacher.
Up until this point, I’ve been arriving at class in the mornings, helping out throughout the day, heading off to my workshop, and repeating. I’ve been a bit out of the loop on exactly what we’re going to learn in class and the curriculum and all the jazz. Fortunately through a couple meetings with the volunteer coordinator and my supervisors, this was addressed and we decided that I would play more of a teacher role than a teacher assistant role. That means I will have 3-4 hours a week to work with the teacher on planning classes. I’m really excited about this and having a chance to come up with ideas and have a bit more structure in my mind of what we’re going to do day to day. Our kids are all on very different levels and it doesn’t make sense to be teaching the same things to everyone. Some kids will get very bored because they already know the material, and others will need to slow down. The kids are actually split up into three different grades needing three different curriculums. Now that there’re two of us, we can plan out these different curriculums and though maybe we’ll work on the same subject, like math, everyone will have their own work that meets them at their level. Sounds good to me! I will be working more closely with three kids who are in the middle level. I see a lot of potential for them and they’re so great.
Also once a week the teacher and I, along with whoever else works with the kids with special needs, goes to a class or work shop about different disabilities. I’ve really enjoyed it so far and it’s so applicable. We’ve talked about autism and Down syndrome mostly and the best methods of teaching and managing behavior. It’s fascinating, and also I love learning about these topics in another country with a different perspective.
My occupational workshop in the afternoons has been going well too. We’ve done some more artsy craftsy things and we planted baby trees one day. I think the kids are really enjoying it although some more than others. I’ve started having a weekly 10 minute meeting with the tíos to talk about what’s worked, what hasn’t, and any new ideas. One lady in particular had a lot of really cool ideas I’d like to try. Every Monday-ish I’m going to put up a new schedule of the afternoon activities. This coming week I’m thinking… maybe… making hand puppets, paper mashay (I’m going with phonetics here because I have no idea how you spell it) balloons/piñatas, and nature painting like with fruit and such. I love how every day can be different.
My section of boys who are 12-14 years old is good. I’m still getting to know them and even took everyone’s individual picture to help me remember names. A lot of time we’ll play uno or another card games.
I had my first family project last week, if I remember correctly. I really like this idea a lot. Kids with brothers or sisters get to do something fun together, just them, and a volunteer. It’s pretty open as to what we can do. Many people take their kids into town to buy ice cream and play games in the park. My first project was with two adorable little boys who were maybe two or three? We ate ice cream, colored, read books. They were just too cute. In March I have a project with some of my kids with special needs. I know them and love them so I’m really excited. And then I have a project with some older boys I’ve never met. I hope it goes well.
Last weekend was probably the best weekend I’ve had here in Guatemala. A huge group of us volunteers went to soak up some sun in Monterrico Guatemala. I’ve always thought of myself as more of a mountain person, but being on the beach and watching powerful waves rolling in and not having a care in the world started making me reconsider. It was the perfect weekend of relaxing. All the food was really good and cheap, especially the sea food. Everyone was really nice and no one was in a rush to get anyway. This picture pretty much sums it up.
and some more pics