Today KC and I accompanied Brenda to one of the local schools to get a feel for the educational barriers we were facing. The first classroom – a Kindergarten one – had about thirty kids, all decked out in traditional white-collared and navy-skirted uniforms, huddled around two tables. Slightly peeling but colorful posters of the alphabet, basic numbers and the English words for different plants and animals hung from the bright yellow walls and sunlight filtered through the windows, giving the room a bright, positive glow – a precursor for what turned out to be a fantastic morning.
After the teacher introduced us to the class, we split into two smaller groups. KC read from the abnormally large copy of “Bear’s Walk” we had brought over from the Sand Castle Library-
– while I got the opportunity to relive my childhood and work on an art project with the other half of the class. The kids were a little shy at first and preferred to quietly stick their fingers in the small tubs of red, yellow and blue paint to create their own Starry Nights and Girls With Pearl Earrings than listen to my pathetic attempts at broken Spanglish. So instead I painted a flower, which was later admired then subtly taken by a charming little girl named Jemima, who proceeded to add her own sun and blossoms to the menagerie.
The rest of the students painted houses, ships, fishes and of course, more flowers, all of which we ended up hanging on the walls alongside a hand-drawn diagram of the human body, adding an extra burst of color to the already vibrant room.
After a thorough hand-washing which still left traces of blue permanently etched into my fingernails , we proceeded to the first-grade classroom next door, were I was able to get my camera out for their very nice welcome message:
Same drill, though the level of artistic talent was heightened as the kids worked diligently on their paintings and eagerly shouted out answers to KC’s intermittent questions about what the bear saw while walking through the forest.
This time however, the kids were definitely not camera shy as I went around taking pictures. A picture that started off as a portrait of one quickly multiplied as more and more earnestly tried squeezing into the frame, displaying their brightest smiles, salutes and somewhat-suspicious-looking gang signs.
Then it was recess time! The kids ran out for a haphazard, utterly chaotic game of soccer, during which thirty little boys and girls all chased after the ball, boundaries and teams completely ignored, without keeping score or really caring about winning at all. They just wanted to have fun. I couldn’t stop smiling
Unfortunately then it was time to leave and KC and I said our goodbyes and were promptly smothered with hugs, kisses and shy Adios’s from the students. Definitely up there in the Top 5 moments where I’ve felt the most loved. The rest of the day proceeded as usual back at the center with Sneha and Victoria, but I sincerely hope that that wasn’t our last time seeing those kids.
Until next time,
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