Monday, November 4, 2019

Teaching, Learning, and Loving

        So much has happened since I wrote my last blog that I am not quite sure where to begin. I have been working now for about a month in both the Centro Comunitario Nueva Esperanza (Community Center of New Hope) and the Centro de Atención Para Migrantes en Exodus (Attention Center for Migrants in Exodus- CAME). My job at the community center is to teach English and geography to students ages 6-12 who are behind in school. They come to the community center after school to continue to learn in a safe environment that challenges children to grow academically, socially and spiritually. I am also helping to replicate this learning environment in CAME by teaching English, geography and mathematics to children between the ages of 3 and 18. This facility is a shelter for families that are waiting their turn to enter into the United States in order to seek asylum, because their home country is not safe for various reasons. In both of my work places I am supported by so many staff members that love their work and care for people whole-heartedly and without reservation.
          Everyday I am amazed by the hope that is so prevalent in the midst of difficult circumstances. I am greeted every morning by so many little welcoming arms that wrap around me accompanied by joyful shouts of, “Maestra! Maestra! Que vamos hacer hoy?” (Teacher! Teacher! What are we going to do today?). I've been reminded what a privilege it is to learn and I feel so honored to share the gift of knowledge with these young ones who hunger to know more about the world we all live in. I’ve learned that it is about more than just English, geography, and mathematics. Vocab, maps and numbers are important, but more importantly I get to bring life to children’s everyday experiences. I can use English vocabulary such as “today I am angry, happy, or excited” to help them realize that we do not always feel one way or another and that it is important to be aware of how you feel right now versus how you felt an hour ago. Or, I can talk about the culture of Agua Prieta in a way that helps the children understand that Agua Prieta was not always this way- certain parts of the culture are the same but many things have changed and will continue to change with time. I have learned a lot about what it means to hold a child’s attention for an extended period of time and what I must do to make learning a valuable experience for us all.
          I never knew I would be teaching English to young children in a classroom setting, and I definitely did not know I would ever teach geography entirely in Spanish...but I would not trade this experience for anything else. I have already learned so much! Everyday my Spanish is improving, my relationships with the children and my coworkers grow stronger, and I become more and more confident in my job. It never gets easier to say goodbye to the children who will continue their journey into the US after a two or three weeks waiting in CAME, and it never gets easier to tell a child for the six-hundredth time to sit down and keep his hands to himself. But it's all worth the smiles on those innocent faces and the twinkle in those curious eyes when they learn something for the first time or understand something they’ve never understood before. 
         So I'd like to say thank you to all the teachers who stick it out even when you’re at wits end and your patience is running thin. I’ve only been teaching for a month, but it is surely one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. And I’d like to say thank you to all those who search for hope in the midst of despair and joy in the midst of heartbreak. Love truly does conquer all, and to love one another makes the world a much better place.
 A group of children at CAME drawing pictures of their families

The children and teachers at the Community Center

MCC Mexico Staff Retreat in Bahia Kino

Just having a little fun :)

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