~ By Katie
Weeks before graduating with my BSW, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and apply to be a volunteer English teacher in Isla Mujeres, Mexico for six months. Unfortunately I was told that were no longer any spots available for the 6-month program, but that they did have one spot available to start in May, for three months. Finding out this news made me feel all sorts of different emotions. I was excited for this new adventure, but I was not sure if I would be able to get myself ready, mentally and physically, to go travel and live in another country without a familiar face. I spoke with friends and family and they encouraged me to let my fear go and take the opportunity, and so I did. Graduation was the 10th of May and on the 13th I was headed off to the island.
I was nervous about everything; this would be my first time teaching, let alone trying to teach kids another language. It was definitely intimidating, but I took my experience day by day. The weeks kept flying by and I truly enjoyed every day that I was in the schools. It was always a new experience and being able to build a rapport with the students was very rewarding. I loved hearing the students yell out “teacher, teacher!” with a big smile on their faces, followed by the warmest of hugs. That feeling that I felt inside when this happened was my favorite part of my experience and something that I looked forward too every day. No matter how bad of a day you might have had, the students always made it better and reminded me of why I was there. Through all of the ups and downs that occurred during my experience, they are the ones that helped me push forward, keep my purpose in mind and to not give up.
The end has finally come to my time in Isla Mujeres and it is a bittersweet feeling. It was hard to say good-bye to my students, especially after hearing, “I’ll see you at the start of school teacher.” It broke my heart having to tell them that I would no longer be their teacher and seeing the reactions of their faces. Apart from everything, I will forever be grateful of my students for allowing me to be a part of their lives, for allowing me to make a difference in their lives, and most importantly, for the love and affection they were so willing to give me after such a short period of time.