Everyone on Isla knows who we are

It’s mostly really awesome

~ By Monica

One of the first things that was mentioned to me in my interview for my position with Volunquest is that we will be viewed as local celebrities on Isla Mujeres. This has come with its share of advantages and disadvantages, however it’s mostly really awesome. It’s a good feeling to walk down the street to the grocery store and have a small swarm of our students run up to greet us. Usually we’ll hear a child yell “Teacher!” before we even see them. We tend to stand out so they tend to recognize us first.

For the most part I think it’s a good thing for our students to see us out in the community. It probably makes us more human in their eyes. We don’t just show up in their classrooms, teach them a foreign language, and then disappear until the next class. They see us eating at local restaurants, taking our clothes to the lavanderia, and shopping for groceries at Xpress or Chedraui.

Sometimes they even catch Patrice and I when we go on runs around the salina. It’s a really good place to run because it’s flat and scenic. Several times when I’ve been running I have seen a group of my students playing near the trail. As I approach they launch themselves onto the running path and slam into me to give me a gigantic hug. This works out for me because I can give myself a little break and catch my breath to say hello, although I’m sure my sweaty body was not the best thing they made contact with that day. However they don’t seem to care and are more excited to see me than smell me.

Lately I’ve realized that we have more of an impact on these kids than just being their English teachers. By seeing us in the community they know we are part of it and care about it. And of course we care about our students. Perhaps even more importantly than being their teachers, we act as role models for them. We teach them games that we learned as kids, we are active in the community, and we show them that we can be fun outside of the classroom. Gloria plays basketball with her kids all of the time and Stephan plays soccer with Juan, one of his students that lives next to our office. We recognize how much our students look up to us and watch what we do. This, of course, requires an element of responsibility on our part since everyone on this island knows who we are. It’s something we always keep in the back of our minds to make sure we portray ourselves as best as we can. In the end, this past month here has been amazing for me and I love being a member of this tight-knit community. Being a celebrity with the local kids makes it even better.