25 June 2013

Back in the Belize Groove

Today was the first day of working here that I felt I actually helped people and that I, Laura, was needed.

Last week I discovered there was a need for English classes at a local nonprofit organization we do a lot with. So I did a lot of research for both ESL and literacy classes in the past few days. And today I taught my first English class.

And I loved it.

Like a lot.

I forgot how much I love teaching language. I feel like I'm completely in my element. I had three amazing students. All Spanish-speaking women who only know the most basic English. They were so eager to learn and ready for anything I would teach them. I had them write down five things they wanted to accomplish or learn in this class and they wrote things down like, "Learn the alphabet," "How to greet someone," and "Pay for things at the store."

Today we went over numbers (they rocked it), introductions and leave takings, and the alphabet. Yes, we straight-up sang the ABC song. They already knew the song, which was helpful. And we practiced spelling and numbers for a bit. They were so happy to be there and we set it up to get together twice a week. One of the women, who had been hesitant to commit to twice a week, said at the end of class that she was going to talk to her husband and tell him she needed to come twice a week. It touched my heart to see how earnest they were in learning. I felt like I had really helped them and that I was needed there. I'm so pumped for classes next week.

Then after a game of cribbage with our Scottish friend, Dave, I ran into the sister missionaries. They flagged me down and asked if I could go out teaching with them right then. (I had told them in previous weeks that I wanted to help them whenever they needed me.) I noticed that one of the hermanas was missing and put it together why they needed me. That sister had fallen down last week and chipped of two of her teeth, so she went to El Salvador to get her teeth fixed. (Apparently Belize is the worst country in Central America for medical care. Here's to hoping I stay healthy!)

So I got to go out with Hermana Reyes for a few hours. We went over to the sister city of Santa Elena to teach a family. We picked up their bikes partway there.

Let me tell you about these bikes: They were super old beach cruisers, heavy as all get out, and had super cracked seats. The sister who went to El Salvador is about 5' tall, so she had lowered the seat to fit her. So imagine me, a 5'7" girl sitting on a bike set for a 5' tall girl. Oh and I was in a skirt. I looked ridiculous. My knees were up in my elbows and my stomach and almost to my face. Not really, but it felt like it.

We rode our bikes up the pothole-ridden, no sidewalks containing, street to get to their house. Thankfully we walked the bikes up the hills.

And then we taught Elston and Diana. Diana is a member of the Church, but hasn't been going in a long time and her boyfriend/almost husband is investigating the Church. It was SOOO much fun to teach again and to get a feel for the culture down here. It really brought me back to Portugal. So many things were the same. The fact that people would go off on tangents for a long time and you had to pull them back, everything starts so late and takes so long. It was just delightful. I didn't feel the stress of time because I wasn't in charge! I just got to teach and listen and learn. It was wonderful.

I really felt like I helped people and made a difference. It was a very welcome change. Hopefully it continues.

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