Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Teaching Under the Trees

Written by Emily, a long term Fount of Mercy volunteer

Today I spent the day in at one of my favorite site locations. Just a preface: I like each site and organization I work for. They all have very distinct personalities, work, and goals. Each day I am excited to see how the day’s work will unfold.

However, I especially enjoy going to one of my schools, located in Bulabandi. After a long taxi ride into the next district (state), and a daring boda ride to the village- which includes avoiding potholes, going over huge dirt piles that remind me of dirt-bike racing, and then through a footpath that is surrounded by fields- I arrive at the school. Before I have a chance to pay my boda driver, the children swarm. They sing songs of greetings, while simultaneously mob me for a hug. After the initial attack of children, the teacher organizes them and they begin to sing a bit more. The ones, who have decided I am their best friend, stick close. There is absolutely no way to describe to you how wonderful these children are. My heart fills with joy- yet I know their lives are not easy. One little girl, Gloria, never leaves my side. She is in nursery (preschool) and is as cute as a button, although incredibly shy. The teachers will tell her to go home (since nursery is only half-day) and yet she silently refuses. It is only when I am done with lunch and we are about to begin our teacher-lesson does she leave. I will take a picture of her sometime soon.

While I enjoy the children, my main role is to work with the teachers. After a lunch of poshu (boiled maize flower) and beans, we dive into the material. Today we talked about learning styles, took a quiz to find out our own learning style, and then brainstormed ideas on how to teach lessons to meet the needs all learning styles. These teachers are very enthusiastic about learning new concepts around teaching and also to improve their classrooms. They are good with the kids, get along well, and are enjoyable to work with. They are still feeling me out, figuring out who I am and what kind of relationship will become of my bi-monthly visits. I hope someday, to be (to some extent) grafted into their school and community.

While our conversation on learning styles continues, I cannot help but look around and be amazed. We sit under a large tree, out of the sun, talking about children and teaching, while the schoolgirls play a version of handball/cricket and the boys play soccer. It is quite picturesque and I truly feel blessed to be here.