One GIANT learning experience

One GIANT learning experience

~ By Marin

Today is: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016.  Today marks my second full month in Playa del Carmen, Mexico as an intern for Volunquest.

These two months have been one GIANT learning experience for me. Coming into this program not knowing what to expect and knowing nothing about teaching was more than a little a little disconcerting at first. However, this experience so far has been completely worth it.  Living in a new city with new people and doing a completely new-to-me job has been frightening, exciting, and insightful. There are ups and downs every single day on this adventure, but one of the many things that have made this experience so special and captivating are my students.

Even on the days when it’s humid, boiling hot outside and you don’t want to leave your air conditioned house, walking up to my school and seeing all my children makes the day better. Having all your students smile and say “hello!” to you as you walk by on your way in the gate. Getting group hugs and love notes. Getting drawings and paper airplanes by the handful. Being gifted candies and mini bananas. Being asked to take selfies. Every little gesture of love and gratitude from my students reaffirms that I’m in the right place.

Some days, they can’t seem to control their busy little bodies and I get frustrated. They can’t sit still and focus so I end up sitting in their classroom through recess with a few students so they can finish their work. But these days are rare, and even when I‘m fed up with their bad behavior; I still miss them when we have 3-day weekends or breaks.

My favorite thing that happened this week was when I was walking home with one of my 1st graders and her mother and little sister. We had just turned off of the street the school is on, and onto the main street when my student began hopping over the cracks in the sidewalk. Pretty soon her little sister had joined in and they both convinced me to start jumping with them. I jumped with them for about 10 cracks and then decided I’d had enough. As soon as I started walking normally again, my student told me that I wasn’t allowed to stop. So the 3 of us resumed hopping and giggling with big smiles on our faces. After a little more hopping I was getting tired, but every time I tried to stop, the two little girls would stop dead in their tracks and stare at me. We ended up hopping all the way back to my house. I was drenched in sweat from the heat and hopping, but getting to play and get to know my student outside of class made me really happy.

When I’m walking around town or I’m taking the bus, I think that someday my elementary school aged kids will all be adults and I really hope that I will have made as much of an impact on their lives as they have on mine.