What Comes After?
Before we arrived in Nicaragua, English classes for primary school kids were being taught by a German volunteer but she returned home a few weeks ago and the kids were left without a teacher. For our secondary project, one of my fellow Hestoners and I decided to restart the classes and are now the English teachers of 4-11 year olds for an hour a day, Monday-Friday!
“Okay everyone, we are going to have a competition! I’m going to write math problems out on the white board, and while I’m writing you all have to run around the room but as soon as I finish, and Tiarra stops the music, you need to run up to the board and answer your problem. Everyone understand? Okay, fabulous, start running!” Sounds of the Backstreet Boys and childish shrieking soon filled the room as three of our regular students ran around the classroom, eagerly anticipating the moment when Tiarra’s finger would hit the pause button and when it finally did, the shrieks intensified. After a mad scramble to get their markers from me, we watched as they excitedly ran back and forth between the board with their problem and the board with the number chart, trying to decipher what fifteen minus eight was equal to in English, or corroborating that seven + three was in fact 7+3. Soon enough, we had three completed problems and three beaming kids who wanted to keep practicing their numbers (yeah, you heard right… they WANTED to learn more!) For the remainder of the class, we ran to the tune of I Want It That Way, raced to complete math problems, and had fun; their laughter was contagious, their intelligence was inspiring, and the disappointment of class ending was mutual.
Before leaving, each of the kids gave us a hug and said “see you next class,” with an infectious smile plastered on their faces. As I watched them walk out of the building, I was left wondering what will happen when we have to walk out behind them and know that there won’t be a next time. Who will teach them next and when will they come? Will they retain the information that we passed onto them? What will happen to their drive to learn? How much inconsistency can they take before they give up on trying to learn English? The questions are endless, and I am at a loss for words. Although I know that these classes are beneficial, they are not yet sustainable and I have yet to find a solution. In a country where teachers are underpaid and overworked, and volunteers are temporary, is it possible for a class like this to be sustainable? Truthfully, I don’t know, and I really don’t want to let these kids down.
Emily Brown ’18