Sunday, May 20, 2012

Have I told you about my daughters?

It's official. Over a third of my time here has passed. A couple weeks brought the start of the second trimester. Two more semesters to go until I find myself on a plane back home.

It's a bittersweet time though, because on one hand, I simply cannot wait to wrap my arms around each and every member of my family and friends, and on the other hand, I can't imagine not seeing my students almost every day. Their smiling faces are the first thing that greet me when I enter the school every morning, and the last thing I see when I leave each night. They make a 13-hour workday seem like 2. They even make Friday's seem a bit sad. A once celebrated day of the week now brings about a disappointment that I have to wait two whole days to see them again. When I walk around town on Saturday or Sunday I can't help but glance around the crowds, scanning each face for a familiar alumna (student). Though most of them live in aldeas (small towns/villages surrounding Guaimaca), I get lucky every once in a while when I hear a, "¡Hola Christinita!" as I walk across the street. And no, I didn't just spell my name wrong. After initial awkward student-teacher barriers were broken, they began calling me Christinita. I can't explain the why behind this too well, but basically in Spanish you can add an "-ita" to the end of some words to make them mean that word, except smaller. It's not that they think I'm small, but my name happens to have a perfect flow to add an "-ita" to the end of it.

The love I have for these girls is equally reciprocated each and every day. Each Monday morning I'm greeted with a hug and a kiss from almost all of the girls at the school - not just my grades. When snack time comes around, if I'm busy doing something and don't have time to grab a snack, they'll bring one to me. When I go with them to mass at night, they take turns holding my hand or linking arms with mine while we walk. By far the biggest amount of love I was shown was on my birthday. We had been talking about birthdays a couple weeks before mine, so I told them when mine was. I didn't think they remembered, but about a week later one of them said, "May 9th is next Wednesday, right?" I said, "Yes, why?" to which I got a smile and a, "Because it's your birthday!" When I walked into the school the morning of my birthday, I barely had time to put my bike away before I got a bombardment of singing from the chiquitas, the youngest girls at the school. A few minutes later when I walked into my segundo ciclo's classroom, I was once again greeted to singing, hugging, and many letters and pictures expressing their love and wishes that I am blessed with many more birthdays. 

My math class on my birthday. 
My first class of the day was a math class with tercero ciclo. I had planned on doing practice problems with them, but when I walked in, they had decorated the board so beautifully with birthday greetings (in Spanish AND English), and beautiful pictures of cake and balloons. I didn't want to erase it so I wrote the problems around their decorations. Later I had another class with tercero ciclo but this time it was an English class. I had debated whether or not to put in a movie in English with Spanish subtitles and call it an English class. I decided in the end, however, that just because it's my birthday, doesn’t mean I should sacrifice valuable learning time. That mindset went down the drain when I walked into my class and found juice and cake waiting for me on my desk. What do you do during class when you have cake and juice? You watch a movie, duh! It was a fundamental rule all through my grade school, and I didn't dare break it now during their grade school. We watched Monster-in-Law (in English with Spanish subtitles) which was nostalgic because it was the same movie I saw with my friends on my 16th birthday. I absolutely loved watching it again with my students! I was telling my friend Keara this a couple days ago and she replied with, "I thought we hated that movie when we saw it?" She's right. My students, the juice, the cake and all the love they gave me on my birthday made me forget what a horrible movie it actually is.

It's the mindset I've been having here recently, though. It doesn’t matter how terrible something is, or how bad something may be going, my students have an uncanny ability to make everything better. It's their love, their innocence, their eagerness to learn and my eagerness to watch them grown that has been making this year so special. I can't wait to see what all of them are going to become, and I hope when I leave here, I leave them with a spark to reach for their dreams. I want them to settle for nothing but the best, and I want them to defy every Honduran statistic telling them they should stay at home and have babies for the rest of their lives.  I am so proud of them for every accomplishment I have seen so far, and I know I will have so much more to be proud of in the future.

When the students decorated the board for my birthday, one of the messages they wrote was, "Thanks for being the best mom of our class." I never realized being a mother would also fall under my job description of being here. 

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