Dominican Republic - The School
One of the "ministries" we did in the Dominican was spend a day at a school teaching the kids ESL and art.
I volunteered to teach the kids how to paint using water colors. Because I like to paint and love creativity, I really looked forward to this day with the kids. Little did I know that our first class would include 30+ students, stuffed in a tiny space, who know nothing about "indoor voices"... it was chaos. The girls seemed to be much more interested in painting on paper than the boys. Ten minutes into it; the boys were painting on each other and throwing dirty water around. There were two that attempted to separate themselves from the chaos to work on their artwork, but with the lack of space, they didn't last long either. Once we shrank the class size, it became easier to manage.
We decided not to attempt watercolor painting with the younger kids and switched to crayons... for the rest of the day...
This day ended up being the most challenging for me. I love the kids, but they didn't seem to care what we (using a translator), or even what their teachers have to say. They just liked to do their own thing, whether that meant climbing on top of a table, under a table, or running around the table. It sounded like the ladies teaching ESL had a similar experience at first. They also started out with much too large of a class, but we were able to shrink down the number of students per class as the day progressed, and there were a few that were highly interested in learning English at the end.
Unruly kids were not the only challenges I faced that day. There were other discomforts that I don't even have to think about living in the US. It was very apparent that most of the students had head lice. This made us itch for the remainder of our week in the Dominican, thank God we all came home lice free. There are 300 students that go through this school in one day, but only one toilet with no sink, and it doesn't flush. To flush the toilet you fill buckets of water from a barrel of water in another room, carry the buckets to the toilet, and flush out the dirty water. I wanted to cry, give up, and go home, when I realized I had to pee.
The kids start the morning wearing uniforms. They go home for lunch for 2 hours, and return to school in regular clothes. In the Dominican lunch is the main meal of the day, and dinners are light.
The day was challenging, but hindsight it was worth it. Not because of what we brought to the children, but because of the perspective and gratitude I gained from the experience. I hope this post doesn't sound like a bunch of complaining, I just want to emphasize that an ordinary day for these kids, is a challenging day for us.
To read my arrival story to the Dominican visit here.