Adjusting to Life in Isla

Time for Summer Camp!

~ By Carlee

During my first month in Isla, I have had an experience unlike any other. Time is flying by and I honestly can’t believe I have already been here for nearly a month. For the first two weeks, I had time to really explore the island and also go through training for teaching. Although I have been to the island many times before, I definitely needed time to become acquainted to the cute little neighborhood we live called La Gloria.

Upon returning from a trip to Playa del Carmen, it was time to start summer camp. So far, I have really enjoyed teaching my classes, but teaching from 9-4 in the heat is definitely exhausting. My kids are great most days, although sometimes the language barrier is difficult. I can see on their faces when they get frustrated with English or frustrated that I cannot understand what they are saying. My students think that because I am the teacher, I should understand everything they are saying. They love to rattle off Spanish so quickly to tell me a story or ask me a question, not understanding that they are speaking way too quickly for my comprehension.

In addition to the language barrier, there is always something that happens in my classes, from kids puking because they drank their juice too fast, to a kid ripping their pants before class even starts, to breaking a glass apple juice bottle in the middle of a game. Surprisingly, my students also know bad words in English more than anything else. They always say “Oh my god” and other things much worse than that. I do not believe they know the meaning behind the words, but they are very good at using the words in the right context. Saying cuss words in class is very hard to discipline. When you tell them not to say it, they just want to say it more. I’ve decided its best to just ignore it when they say them, which is very hard to do.

I’m still learning how to interact with my kids and how different the classroom culture is from the States. While in the States there are strict rules for everything, the rules on the island are basically non-existent. In the afternoon, parents come looking for their child who may have decided to walk home or go home with a friend whereas in the U.S., a kid would be immediately considered kidnapped or missing. Another difference is that there is no need for permission from parents to take pictures. My students hug and kiss me hello or goodbye with no problem. They love to give me pictures, candy, share their lunches with me, and bring me other gifts because of their culture. So far, I love this part of the culture and wish that kids in the States could interact with their teachers and coaches the same way the kids do here because the relationship is so much better. Being on a small island, it is common to see my students out places. The kids run up to me yelling “Teacher, Teacher!” hugging and kissing me on the cheek.

So far, I love calling Isla home. I know there are challenges ahead that I will have to face in daily life as well as working life. I look forward to the rest of this amazing opportunity and can’t wait to learn and grow from this experience!