My second week in San Miguel was full of excitement and new experiences. I got my first taste of Teaching ESL with one of the children in San Miguel; I made homemade tortillas and queso: I learned how to garden and I hung out with a church group and some new friends at the rio! You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted homemade queso and tortillas straight from the source.
This week in San Miguel I had the pleasure of meeting and visiting the home of the lady who makes cheese every morning from the milk that is brought to her by her local community member. The cheese is packaged in a banana leaf and sold at the “chino” corner stores every day. This is a perfect example of how a community can become sustainable; working with people in your community, to make products for the community, that will be sold in the community. On Friday morning, Hannah and I were invited to our friend Maria’s house, whom works in the library, to learn how to make corn bread tortillas. We helped grind the corn and rice, and place them over a fire to cook. Maria cooked one over the fire and fried another—I couldn’t decide which one was better because they were both so good! I am so grateful and blessed to be welcomed into the San Miguel community and to have the ability to learn and get to know these people.
Even though I cannot speak Spanish fluently, everyone I encounter is so patient and kind when I attempt to have a conversation. As previously mentioned, I had the opportunity to teach English to one of the children from San Miguel, her name is Rosina. In lesson planning for the English program, we have been unsure of how much the children have learned and retained from past lessons. Rosina surpassed my expectations as I went through numbers, colors, body parts, birthday, and other various topics with her. She could read and write the lessons we went over. This experience was great for me personally because it reassured me that I want to spend the majority of my time in the school with the children. I want to help them whether that be through English classes, art classes or extracurricular activities. Working with Rosina inspired me to start working on lesson plans for ESL classes for the younger children. These children are the future of San Miguel and will be neighbors with the Kalu Yala community.
Later on that evening we attended church with Aura, and to my surprise Rosina and her family were there too! It was great to start recognizing faces in the community and make connections. Everyone at the church was so welcoming and immediately offered us seats. Even though I could only understand a fraction of the sermon and songs in Spanish, the energy was still so uplifting. Finally, Miriam, the school librarian, invited us to come down the rio on Thursday to hang out with some of the children, teenagers and adults of the community. We practiced English, Spanish and I learned a lot about the history and community of San Miguel. This week we made such growth towards creating connections with the people in San Miguel and creating a mutual bond and trusting relationship.