Today we had a free day and we were allowed to wake up anytime up to 9:30am. Yay! Breakfast was a serve-yourself-style buffet which I liked a lot. We also had our first opportunity to do laundry and call home which had us all pretty excited. Calling home was an emotional time for the majority of the group. Being able to hear our families voices after so long really made us realize how each and one of us misses home, We were all there for each other today and we had a lot of emotional support from our peers and leaders. After cheering up, we had our second explore time during which we got to go out to explore the city with our leaders. We bought snacks and souvenirs, played soccer, and had ice cream at “Bon.”
After explore time, we prepared for our first English teaching class and as we walked to the school many of us felt nervous about how our first day was going to play out. As we set up our classrooms we noticed major differences between our schools and the ones here. For example, every room has an old chalkboard and chalk dust everywhere. There is also extremely poor lighting in our classrooms with small windows and only one overhead light bulb. Pretty much all of the equipment (desks, tables, board) were old and in bad but usable condition. We had an hour to prepare before our students arrived so we finished our lesson plans the best we could and rearranged the desks and chairs in our rooms. We all had trouble teaching at first because we were unsure of what each of our students already knew. Personally, I wasn’t prepared for the kids i had to teach. I didn’t expect them to have so much energy. My group and I assumed the kids wouldn’t have as much energy as they did. Luckily, we had prepared some English learning games and that calmed the kids down because everyone had something to do. My group and I then taught our students the days of the week, body parts and also taught them commands. A lot of students including my own were fast learners and they were happy and excited to learn. The students being excited to learn stood out to me the most because back at home I feel like there are too many students who take their education for granted. When my group and I played charades with the kids they had big smiles on their faces, they were raising their hands with so much excitement and it was amazing to realize that we were the cause of that smile and excitement. Although sometimes the kids forgot to raise their hands before speaking, I’m proud that charades and our first English class was a success. When I talked with my peers about their first experience afterward it felt like everyone had a fun and successful day. Most of us struggled at first but we made it!
After English tutoring, we walked back to the hotel for dinner and reflection time. Reflection time is when we share how each of us is feeling in small groups. We discussed how each of us felt about English teaching and about how we felt after calling home. We then had our nightly meeting during which we reviewed the day, had more discussion questions, and passed the student leadership torch to Chavez and Tanya. We all agreed that today was tiring and really emotional but it was fun. After the meeting we had some time to hang out and enjoy each others’ company. Overall, we had a great first free day.