Friday, May 4, 2012

My thoughts on volunteering in El Cocal..

I´m halfway through my time here and as the weeks pass, it just gets harder and harder to think of saying goodbye to all the children and people I´ve met.  There have been so many improvements in just the six weeks I´ve been here and I want to see the whole program as it continues to grow.  When I arrived, I got put on Kinder and first grade in the school.  I was warned that the kinder teacher was sometimes unreceptive and seemed unappreciative of our work here.  Last week, she excitedly showed me a photo of her from last year´s kinder graduation and even her lesson plan for the next week.  I can see her enthusiasm with the kids and that she definitely appreciates the help in the classroom, considering at times there can be 20 kids in the small room.  I was told that in the beginning of our program the first grade teacher did not want help from any of the volunteers.  A couple weeks ago she asked if another volunteer and I would help her learn English while we worked on Spanish.  She loves having a second person in the class, as well, to help keep the children focused and help the ones who need special attention.  She requests my help in the front of the classroom to help teach a lesson, and always thanks me as I spend a lot of time on a struggling kid.
                While the teachers appreciation of my effort does make me want to do more, it´s the children´s excitement that really makes me want to come every day.  The reaction from the kinder kids when I enter the classroom in the morning and help them with their games and work, and their upset expressions as they ask why I didn´t come to school that day.  The first graders´ excited “Buenos Dias”s as I come in their class and the immediate request for my help and approval of their work.  While it gets VERY tiring, I love hearing everyone in the class calling for me to make sure their doing their work correctly and asking for me to help them when they don´t know the correct answer.  I love the excitement they get when I let them know I can help them after class in the center and how much interest all the children show in learning English.  It´s always hard getting angry at the children or correcting them from doing something they shouldn´t be doing, but it´s the hugs from these children each day that make me know they appreciate my interest in everything they do. 

Quepos Volunteer-Kristin Cleaveland