So what I figured I would do is at least do the blog for today and work on catching up as I go JUST so that you always have something to read! So if something isn't super clear it will be soon! :)
...After a fun filled weekend today I had to wake up for another week of placements. I have to admit that I didn't use a lot of Spanish during the weekend so I definitely had trouble getting back into the groove a little bit. It was very interesting going to class today because the first two activities for the day were very different. First, Graciela sat the children in a circle and she put shaving cream in each of their hands and told them to rub them together until it was gone. She told me that this was un círculo de paz (A circle of peace). The point she was trying to make to the children that no matter what a person's skin color was they all are the same underneath it. (Hence the shaving cream disappearing and their hands being visible again.) After this she made her way over to the children's kitchen area and showed the children how to make toast and jam without using too much or accidently hurting themselves. She also stressed the importance of cleaning after cooking. After these lifestyle lectures Alex and I shared some more coloring pages for the younger children to draw on while we played Bingo with the older children. That was a very easy way for me to learn some more Spanish as well. The kids loved this game so much that we played it until it was time to learn the song for the day. I honestly can't say that I understood everything that they were singing but basically what I heard was about a child who wanted to play a garden very badly but her mother wouldn't let her so instead she used her imagination to pretend like she was playing in it.
After this we continued with our daily routine starting with the patio and then the children eating lunch. One thing I have noticed in Costa Rica is that they really don't say please and thank you a lot. So I made up this game where in order for me to lift up the children to play on the monkey bars they had to say please. Once that rule was established I also then made them count in English to whatever number I determined necessary for each child-since some children know more than others. This worked fairly well! Except for the part when all of them started screaming por favor at once! :)
It is so fun for me to watch the children interact with each other. They have all the same behavior patterns as I have seen in the United States and they like to play the same kind of games. I did successfully give two children (Franco y Angelica) a time out today and-this may sound weird- but I feel as though I accomplished something here. The children have always kind of hesitated when listening to directions I give them. I have conversed with volunteers at the other placements and they say that it really seems as though the children have so much more freedom and are less respectful to their teachers. I don't know if it is because they are more chill here or because they don't have enough help or what! For example the other day when we went to the high school for the arts festival there were at least 30 people walking around the grounds doing whatever they wanted. However for the younger children the problem is that they just don't listen and continue to talk over the teacher or continue to hit someone or steal someone's book. I know this happens with all children but even when Graciela would raise her voice and scold them they would continue doing whatever they want and ignore her and Graciela would give up. The problem is, is that these children are sooo sweet and when I see something like this happen I know its because of lack of attention and also the lack of supplies and variety in their lives. Every day that I have gone to placement Graciela does about the same thing and I can imagine how boring it must be for children to read the same four books, play with the same plastic animals, with the same soccer ball, with the same blank pieces of paper every day...even up to a couple years. I know in some of the other placements, mostly at the formal schools, a majority of the time spent with the children is playing games or being outside. Sometimes in these schools they only spend 40 minutes actually learning criteria! It is insane the way everything works down here! This is where I can really see that my time here planning learning and craft activities every day matters.
I really feel like I am bonding with Graciela and Flor la cocinera. Flor was born in Santa Clara, Costa Rica and has switched between living there and in San José all of her life. She also has worked at the Santa Clara daycare since she was 20...so it has been 32 years! She is the sweetest woman ever and I am so lucky to have her at my placement. She is really patient with me and takes time to make sure that I understand the culture of Costa Rica. Plus she is pretty much the only person the children say please and thank you to so that makes her pretty legit. ;) I also am completely in love with the children. They just really brighten my day. There is this one young-en named Samantha and she is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. She always has a smile on her face and she has the cutest hair bob that always bounces as she runs along everywhere. She always comes over and sits on my lap and tells me about herself and asks me questions. And then there is Steven who has been the only child who actually understands that I don't speak Spanish fluently. The children think that I can understand everything they say when they go off on a tangent and I keep telling them that I don't understand every word they say etc. etc. but they just keep going. Five year old Steven on the other hand speaks slowly when I don't understand something and will explain what something is instead of giving up on me like some of the other kids do when they can't get a point across.
Here I was thinking that I was setting out to impact the lives of children but I never realized how much they could inspire me. They have so much potential but they don't have the resources for it whereas I have so much and more and yet I don't always push myself as hard as I could. These children have really brought out the best in me. Today I started running around in circles with the children yelling "Soy un avión, Soy un avión!" (I am an airplane!, I am an airplane!) with my arms up in the air like wings and I just started thinking to myself how easy it was to just let go...to let go and give all I have to offer to the world every day 100%. Pretending to be an airplane may not be the equivalent of what I need to do every day ;) but being that silly airplane with all of the children was what helped at that moment; it was a time to just enjoy each other's company, embrace imagination, and strive to be the kind of person you want to be. It's hard to explain. It's funny how the mind works.
Other than Spanish class there really wasn't that much that occurred today other than me trying to regain all of my energy back. :p We had pescado for dinner. I was very happy! :) At night the volunteers group off in different places and we just talk about our placements or our lives back home. These people have also taught me many different things. But that is for another day :p