I have been given the opportunity to teach in the schools here in Salinas Grandes. It has opened up my eyes to how little education is happening in these small rural areas. I wish I could paint a picture of the yelling, disruptions, lack of discipline, inconsistent school days, and overall chaos that the students who want to learn have to deal with. Many of the teachers are caring but do not have the support of administration, parents, or the resources they need. In the first grade class that Parker and Brielle attend, the teacher goes desk to desk and writes the math problems into their notebooks for the students to complete. I still believe in helping kids stay in school as long as possible. Statistically every year of school for a child creates more opportunity for them. But I see a huge need for mentorship and further education outside of the school system for children who desire it. I go and teach English each week and I can see the four or five kids in each class who are trying to learn through the noise. We have been given a unique opportunity to help alleviate some of the poverty in Salinas by valuing and creating more educational chances. English club and classes are just the beginning. We hope to extend our classes to include a story hour for young kids to be exposed to books, computer classes, swimming and water safety classes, health in food preparation, and clean water education. If we don’t start with educating the children and other people who desire it, then our attempts in the community will not have local support. Real impact is a slow process but worth it.
At English club each week we have an opportunity to get to know the kids apart from the chaos of school. It’s just a small group right now of between 6-10 kids that are hungry to learn and absorb any education we can provide. As the kids arrive they often head straight to the bathrooms in two’s or threes. They don’t have running water or flushing toilets at their houses and they spend a few minutes cleaning up. Sometimes the girls come out with wet hair that they have quickly washed. It reminds me of the privilege of running water and helps me not to be annoyed that we start a few minutes late. A few weeks ago as I was teaching, the Spirit led me to switch my English lessons so that the Nicaraguan students also had the opportunity to teach my kids Spanish as we were practicing. It has made a huge difference in the dynamic and closeness we share. It is not a one sided lesson, but a group learning from each other. We truly desire to give each child a sense of dignity and respect. We believe this kind of justice is what will have a lasting impact.