This week was my first chance to help out with ESL classes! Fully charged from a rooster wake-up call, cool shower and coffee I was ready for the challenge. The first couple of kids slowly approached the library with coy faces, yet as introductions began they quickly warmed up to us. I swear children’s smiles could probably bring world peace. One little boy, Eynar, was so excited to tell me about his Peter Pan backpack and Yankees hat that he almost missed instructions for Tiffany’s bingo game. They are so eager to meet new friends and tell us about their lives!
Yesterday I assisted Tiffany in making 4×4 bingo boards to help review basic English vocabulary like numbers, colors, body parts and food. For example, one square had a cutout red apple, one had a cutout hand, and so on. We would call out the words in English and they would have to identify it on the bingo board. Although my attempts at cutting out 16 tiny hands was sub par at best, the kids took to the game instantly. I made sure they understood that in order to cash in their bingo they had to wave their arms in the air and yell BINGO! I showed them how it was done (emphasizing that goofier is better) and soon they got into the excitement bringing our bingo parlor to life! Tiffany’s concept was great, involving visual reinforcement of words as well as a fun element. Games, songs and interaction are going to be key in successfully teaching the little ones.
The modest school has a handful of teachers including Miriam, the librarian, who lets us use her space for three levels of English classes. She is friendly, funny, and a great connection within the community. While spending time at the San Miguel School I cannot help but to compare it to my days in grade school. I was privileged to have computers at my disposal, lavish field trips, expansive air conditioned facilities, unlimited sports equipment, and so much more that I simply took for granted because that was all I knew. Although these children are given excellent mentors and educators that give their all to the kids, they will never have the resources and exposure that many American children, like myself, get to experience. I say this just to illustrate the enormous difference in our lives.
I love learning about the San Miguel culture, some moments I am humbled while at other times I am so grateful to learn from these people and gain new perspective, enriching my life. As humans, our greatest resource is simply each other.