Month: August 2014

I Don’t Want to Leave

Obviously, if you have read anything at all I’ve said about my summer here in Nica, you know for a fact I’m in love with every second of it.

And I don’t want to leave.

Not only do I not want to leave these incredible, inspiring children, but I also don’t want to leave the amazing people who dedicate their lives to Outreach and these incredible, inspiring children. I love meeting new people. Even if individual volunteers have caused frustration or any other negative emotion, I have been incredibly blessed to have met everyone I’ve met this summer. And I want to meet more people that choose Outreach360, because they have been nothing but the top of the line.

To go even deeper, in a positive way: I don’t want to leave service. I don’t want to leave teaching. So even if I have to leave this beautiful community (which I do) I am comforted by the fact that if I look and try hard enough I will find another opportunity to teach and learn through service. That’s the best realization I’ve had  in a long time. That thought is keeping me going through my last 7 days in Jinotega and my last 4 days in the classroom with these (guess who) incredible, inspiring children.

As of right now, and this could just be me being drunk on Outreach, I could do without a fancy degree. As long as I can continue to do whatever I can for people who need a service, I think I’ll be happy. And I like that idea. Although I should probably start looking a little harder for, you know, employment.

Think About It

I have learned so much in the last ten weeks.

Mostly… mostly I have learned to question things in my life. I touched on this in an older post, but I really wanted to get into some of the more personal realizations I’ve had.

1. Teachers (the majority of them) work so much harder than any of us (other than those of us who have taught) could ever imagine. Especially teachers that work in schools with limited supplies. Instead of computer-generated worksheets or word-processed activities, we make our worksheets with markers and printer paper. We create almost everything we use because we need to and because we want to give the students the most enriching classroom experience possible. I teach for approximately 4.5 hours a day, and I am incredibly exhausted after each and every day. I have to constantly be excited to teach (although its never a problem to be excited to teach them), otherwise why would our students be excited to learn? I’ve always appreciated my teachers for the effort they put into their lessons, but now I have a whole new level of understanding, empathy, and appreciation for the amazing people who dedicate their lives to enriching the minds of others.

2. I appreciate my legs. This is weird, but I really, really enjoy being able to walk anywhere I need. I would absolutely love to eventually live somewhere a car wasn’t a necessity. Living 5 miles from a Sheetz (the only attraction in my home township) is not what I enjoy. I really love the ability to go outside and enjoy my surroundings and the journey anywhere instead of moving from a house to a car to another building.

3. The love a child can give is one of the most amazing, rewarding, and beautiful things in the world. I have been told many times that I am loved by these children, and I believe it every time. They don’t judge. They just love. I have been cried to about home issues; in one instance, one of our students came in and begin sobbing onto my shoulder about how his mother yelled at him. I have been asked daily when I’m leaving, and when I respond with “soon,” I get wails of “nooooo!!” and “Teacher don’t leave!” I am hugged every day and loved everyday, and that is something that nobody will ever be able to take away from me. The amount of love these children have to share is incredible and it is the rarest and most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received. These children have given me their hearts, and they will forever have mine.

4. Service is an adventure and an experienced and should be treated as such. There is no simple equation for true service.There is no “painting this + building that = service” formula. Not at all. Service is so much more than that, and Outreach has really honed their ability to share that with their volunteers.  I have discovered such a passion for service on my trip down here. Sharing what I know with others and educating in an area where education is needed is something that not many people understand. Sure, you can build a house, or donate clothes, or give money to an organization or an impoverished area. And those things are great in their own way! But what will happen when the house you built breaks,  or the clothes are worn until they disintegrate, or the money you donated runs out? Isn’t it so much better (and more fulfilling) to show people how to make their own lives better? That may be a view not shared by everyone, but it is definitely one I have come to believe wholeheartedly.

This is already pretty long.  And I’m sure I’ll be writing tons of reflection posts in the next few weeks as my time here dwindles and my return to Ohio happens.  So thanks for reading!

I’ve Been Robbed!

And I’m not mad about it. In fact, I embrace what has been stolen from me.

I know it sounds cliché, but these children have stolen my heart.

You know how when you fall in love, and then you know that for the rest of your life you will see everything as a connection to that person with whom you fell in love? Or you know that a certain food will always remind you of that one date or the last time you saw that person? Or that for the rest of your life there will always be a small part of you that will forever be with that person?

Multiply that feeling by 48, and that’s how many tiny pieces of my heart will forever be in Jinotega. These children have shown me there is nothing more beautiful or more precious than a child’s love.

They have made me incredibly proud in numerous ways. I have been with them through struggles and victories. I have heard, “Teacher, no,” and,  “I can’t,” so many times. My heart has warmed with every smile after I reply with “yes you can,” or “I will help you.” I have been present while the magic of learning has happened. I have seen this magic happen. Light bulb moments aplenty in the classroom are just a small fraction of the amazing time I have spent here.

I accompanied 46 beautiful, incredible people to Managua so they could see potential opportunities in life. I saw the wonder in their eyes and heard the questions they had prepared that made them sound much more like adults than the children they are. It is so hard to describe how tear-jerkingly miraculous it has been to see a student that was once disruptive and disrespectful turn around and start to listen and participate in class just because one scientist told him he was smart.

I have heard these students encourage and teach each other. I have helped one student and heard him immediately helping the student to his left who didn’t understand the assignment. I have admired the humor these children bring to the classroom and been astonished at the amount of sarcasm (in English!) that pours out of their mouths. I have gotten to know 48 superstar personalities encapsulated in 48 beautiful minds and bodies.

For the rest of my life, even if for some (terrible!) reason I can never come back here, these children will be with me. I will hear a laugh and think of Arielka, I will see bright green eyes and imagine Brandy. I will hear a sarcastic comment or purposely mispronounced word and think of Jovani and his incredible sense of humor. Or maybe I’ll see a child with ears way too big for his head and think of Jamil or Cristofer B.. I have been changed by these children and this city.

I repeat: these children have stolen my heart. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.