He is an enthusiastic and cheerful 7 year old boy. He is one of the many reasons that VolunQuest was founded here in Isla Mujeres. Throughout the last few weeks, there were and still are many questions about what this school year in Mexico will look like, but as I walked in to meet my new group of first grade students at the public elementary school, Jeiser reminded me that this is why we are here. When I called his name and told him that he would be going to English class with me today, a huge smile spread across his face. He did not have a school uniform, but his family had dressed him in his very best clothes-black pants, a collared shirt, and a sweater vest. He looked absolutely adorable and he was ready and excited to learn.
We walked to the library and attempted to count in English. The students wondered why they were going with the new teacher. As I introduced myself, I asked the 7 year old students if they knew what English was and if they knew any words in English. One hand immediately shot up in the air, and the little boy shouted, “Apple!” Directly after, a few more brave hands were raised, and lots more voices began to shout colors and numbers that they knew in English. They quickly grew interested and wanted to share what they knew. I was energized by their enthusiasm, and every single student was excited to learn something new.
These are the reactions we are getting from the parents, our fellow coworkers/teachers, and the students. At first glance, they wonder why is there a new teacher? Why are her eyes different than ours? (an actual quote from one of my new students) What is she doing in our school? And who is this stranger in our school? As they see us entering the school and teaching, they are not quite sure what to think. However, slowly but surely, we are seeing the smiles spread across their faces and the walls come down. This week and throughout this school year, we will work to show the community that we are here because we love teaching, we care about the people of Isla Mujeres, and we want to help make meaningful change in the lives of these students and the island we love. So here’s to a great start to a new school year, a brand new curriculum, and to a powerful new beginning for the students of Isla Mujeres.