~ By Vanessa
I had recently graduated in the fall with my bachelor’s in Family and Human Development Studies, and I could go two routes with it. Education or social work? That was the lingering question but ultimately, I chose education. Volunquest was my first step in that direction and boy has it been a ride. I had many expectations of how things would be with the program and schools, which I soon learned was nothing like I had imagined. The program is still growing and there were many changes within the duration of my time here that made it very chaotic. At times it could be very difficult, but I pushed through for the children. Their eagerness to learn English and how loving they were made it worth going to school every day!
The children served as a reminder for me every day of why I came to Isla, to teach English and help the community. I was going to contribute to their life and I was responsible if it was a positive or negative experience. I chose to make the most of my experience and be a positive influence on the children because that’s what they did for me. It was a learning experience for both the children and I, because it was my first time teaching and for them they were learning new information in a different language. When I first started, I mostly had volunteer experience working with children at an after-school program which only consisted of assisting them with homework and having educational activities prepared for them. Now I would be responsible of not only an entire class of 30 students or more but of different grades ranging from first to sixth, how could that not be intimidating? Also, to top it off, it is in a different language. Luckily, the kids want to learn English and most days they were more than willing to participate. As each day passed, it became easier and fun!
One of my biggest struggles was building a rapport with the children. The students see a range of different teachers come in and out so it’s understanding why the kids are a little hesitant to open up to you. This can be discouraging, but after some time the relationships that were built were a wonderful victory. Hearing “Teacher, Teacher” with a contagious smile every day, students running up to give you the best hugs, receiving adorable notes, and seeing the influence you have on them even on the days you think nothing went right, you know you have made a difference in their lives.