~ By Madison
I can still remember giving my teachers little gifts and cards throughout my school career during Teacher Appreciation Week. Not that I didn’t appreciate my teachers, but looking back now I can better understand the significance and importance of a few days and gifts to show someone with so much influence in your life that you care and value their help. Although I don’t have only one class all day for a year like most teachers, the students and teachers here included us in their celebrations which made me feel even further a part of the community. It was a slightly strange feeling to be on the other side of a teacher appreciation day but definitely a feeling I could get used to.
For Día del Maestro, school was cancelled for one Monday and all teachers and educators of public schools on the island were invited for a celebration dinner Friday evening. They were even kind enough to invite the VolunQuest interns and directors. The celebration was pretty elaborate with a free buffet feeding countless teachers, a raffle with many prizes including a car and the mayor of Isla Mujeres greeted each of the teachers and presented many with awards and certificates. The party was very fun and wonderful to see how important the teachers are to the government and the lengths people went for what could have been a simple party. The food was tasty and the environment was beautiful, but hearing the speeches from educators while also seeing the awards and certificates given for 15, 20 and 25 years of teaching really took the cake. It was so nice to see how the teachers celebrated each other, and the little gifts from the students didn’t hurt.
Both on Friday and on Monday the students greeted me with hugs and kisses and wrote me little letters as well. I am honestly used to walking into countless hugs when I go to school, but to have them from nearly every student all across the day was very touching. There are obviously tough days when things don’t seem to be going right, or I feel like some students don’t want to have English class, but the unsolicited good gesture from so many young children negated all of my questioning. The kids wrote me little letters and gave them to me as I went to the different classes, and while this is also not unusual, many of them took the time to make and decorate little envelopes as well. They wrote their notes in English as best they could and attached little sweets and candies. It felt nice to receive little treats throughout the day and letters to keep that are a reminder of why I am here and continue to work hard in the school each day.
About two weeks after Día del Maestro, VolunQuest took us on a trip over a long weekend to a nearby island of Holbox. The trip felt like a little extension of Día del Maestro, because it felt like another act of appreciation, as we were able to completely relax for a few days and experience another area of Mexico. Although it is another small island only a few hours away, a weekend at Holbox was a very different experience than Isla Mujeres has been for me over the past few months. It was nice to have a few days of a change of pace with some different scenery and some downtime with Brittany, Brittain, Kate and Gracie. The rejuvenating weekend in Holbox combined with the long weekend of Día del Maestro really made me realize how soon this journey is wrapping up and how important my time on Isla Mujeres has been, not just for the students but for me as well.