Leaving Mariposas

Final goodbyes: student tries to convince Fiona he can come with us in our backpack.
Final goodbyes: student tries to convince Fiona he can come with us in our backpack.

What we take away

  • Crystal clear memories of all the good times, of all the victories: Hedgehog smiling full of pride and delight and confidence when she learned something new or surprised herself by sounding out a new word; the prescolar who normally never talks to adults but suddenly burst out with “Good Morning” in English class; the sudden and unexpected increase in volume when kids go from not knowing to knowing a song; the hugs hello; and, the hugs goodbye…
  • An abiding respect for teachers of all stripes, and especially those who teach in difficult communities.
  • Improved Spanish, especially in the imperative forms.
  • A reaffirmed belief that it’s not fair how drastically difference our experience of life is depending on where we’re born.

 

What we leave behind

  • Stuff: two ukuleles, six picture books and a red sports bag that is surplus to requirements.
  • A functioning timetable and system to plan classes from week to week.
  • Three songs the kids can sing, and hum to themselves between maths problems.
  • A second grade class that can: add and subtract three digit numbers (borrowing, carrying and all); look up a word in a dictionary; write a story; measure in centimetres; read aloud to preschoolers; and; quietly to themselves.
  • Knowing we have – with the help of many of you – the resources to arrange for a qualified Spanish speaking teacher for six months.
  • The kids. With other volunteers, or even other travelers it’s easy enough to exchange facebook details and the belief that you’ll see each other in someone’s home country some time. As much as we care, that’s not true for the kids. We’ll never know how their lives work out, though we know the possibilities go from terrific to disastrous. We’re grateful to the volunteers we know will follow us, and the chances they will give to the kids to improve their chances in life.

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