Upon hearing the thrilling news that English classes were starting up on February 1st, 2016, the kids were not only ecstatic to begin learning, but were also excited to welcome back their beloved teacher, Teresa. Meanwhile, the last few weeks prior to the start of classes, I spent a couple days travelling through Los Zorros and Jiquilillo with Teresa, recruiting students. To no surprise, they jumped at the sight of her and almost every child approached her with open arms and kisses. Very early in our journey, a few of her young students, Jenifer, Angeli, and Maria Jose decided to help us spread the word about English classes being available again. They were a great help because they knew where every child in the community lived – giving us a huge advantage and making the entire process quite a breeze!
To no surprise, seats were occupied with enthusiastic children the following week. At times, a class at the container attracted almost 30 students, which seems overwhelming, but the children are so well-behaved. They have a lot of respect for their teacher as she gives them the respect they deserve.
They are attentive and many students like Gildrenth and Keyling, love to show off how much they already know. However, not every child is at the same level. There are many kids that can form sentences in English, but there are others that do not know a single word.
At first I thought the kids who are new to English would be discouraged and would not enjoy attending English class; I was wrong for assuming this. These kids always make it to class and always try their best to absorb as much information they can. They ask questions and constantly participate. What seems to be a huge motivator are the interactive teaching methods Teresa has brought to the table. Unlike a classroom setting where most students might grow bored, the kids learn through interactive games, which helps keep everyone interested and involved.
Now, when you think of school the general idea of it revolves around children. However, Teresa has offered classes to adults in the surrounding communities. She has a young adult class in the morning and another adult class at 4 in the afternoon. What’s unique about the 4pm class is that it is entirely occupied by mothers in the new community of Villa Esperanza. There are roughly 10 women in this class, with many of them being regular attendees. It’s lovely seeing the same faces constantly show up each day, ready and willing to learn. They enter the classroom at 4pm, filling the space with laughter and bright smiles. The women are all good friends and this has established a comfortable learning environment considering that they are incredibly helpful and assist each other when necessary. When you think of motherhood, it’s a well-known fact that there are a constant whirlwind of responsibilities.
For many of them it is difficult to find time out of their day to put effort into a class that isn’t seen as beneficial to the older, established community. However, these women see the value of education and learning a second language. By going to class every day, women like Daysy, Eveling, and Marta set exceptional examples for their children, who currently attend or will soon attend school. They set a standard for their children and other children of the community. It is believed that women are the key to breaking poverty and by empowering women and having them embrace education; they can pass this on to future generations. Children will then see the importance of education and put an effort into expanding their minds and making positive changes to their community and eventually, to the world.
Overall, the classes have been successful and have helped paint a positive picture in Jiquilillo and Los Zorros. We hope to continue attracting more students and spreading the joy of education. With everyone’s effort – we can make a real change!