Yesterday (Monday) was our busiest day so far of the four days we have been here in Leon. It was also the most transformative for the glimpsers. As exhausted as we were when we arrived at our hostel last night, the energy and smiles of our students fueled us, and the discussion at our nightly meeting was heartfelt and profound. The students continue to bond and grow together, sharing experiences and getting more accustomed to the heat and humidity. This morning, we enjoyed a refreshing rainstorm before breakfast.
The theme for the day on Monday was education and the students reflected on the question: Is universal education possible given the constraints of the developing world? Being an educator, I was excited to learn about the education system in Nicaragua and meet fellow teachers and other students. With a packed agenda and full water bottles, we boarded the bus for Chacraseca, a rural community on the outskirts of Leon. As we arrived at the Maryknoll school we were greeted by a group of enthusiastic primary school children. We listened to an inspirational speaker, Rosa Ojeda who shared her story with us. Rosa’s mother died during childbirth because of the lack of medical care in the village. While growing up in Chacraseca, there was no school and boys were taught to use machetes and girls, tortilla presses. When two nuns arrived in Chacraseca about 30 years ago, the first school was established and Rosa chose a pencil over a tortilla press. She eventually attended the university, studied in the US for a time and is now a moving force as an educator in the community.
The glimpsers had the opportunity to observe some of the primary classes and then spent receso (recess) playing tag with the lively and appreciative children who welcomed a change from sharing one ball among 200 students.
In the afternoon we visited La Inmaculada, a private secondary school in downtown Leon. Directora Karla Rodriguez, showed us around and we had a chance to have a cultural exchange with a high school class of students the same age as our glimpsers. As they sat with the other students, they went from being strangers from a different culture and language to typical teenagers, chatting, laughing and even sharing dance moves! We finished our visit with a basketball and volleyball game. It was so much fun to see the students in their element, playing sports and enjoying the company of their new friends.
That was just the beginning of our amazing day! Late that afternoon, the glimpsers transformed from students to teachers as they readied their lesson plans for the first evening of teaching English. We arrived at Facultad Derecho in the evening and the glimpsers worked in small groups teaching English to students of different levels. After a bit of a nervous start, the classes began to flow, as they got to know their new English students and engaged them in fun interactive games. I was also able to meet some of the Leon 1 delegation across the hall who were on day 4 of their teaching. My students were relieved to hear that for the other delegation, day one of teaching was also “hella hard” and now it is “super fun and easy”.
My favorite part of the day was walking back to the hostel after English classes hearing the students (new teachers) referring to their new pupils as, “my students”and sharing with each other their teaching techniques. As we reflected on our day, the students expressed how people in Nicaragua truly value education and how they have a new appreciation for their own schools and educational opportunities. What an amazing day! I am so proud of my students!
Thanks to all for commenting on the blogs. It is great to hear from you all!
Amor y abrazos, Suzanne