Who would have thought it would be this hard to blog consistently?!
I have recently started my seventh month, which leaves a five month hiatus between my last blog and this one. And I have yet to tell you much about the actual work I am doing! I work in a before and after school program that supplements the 3 hour public school day. The children who attend this program are provided with meals, Computer Classes, Art and music classes, Homework Help, Civics lessons, and Christian Formation. When Lexy and I are there, they also have English Class. Lexy and I work at two different school during the week, alternating Wednesdays to split our time equally.
Here is a quick rundown of a day in the life of a Costa Rican YASCer, and a few stories about my kids (who are by and large, ridiculous).
To get to our Heredia location, we leave at 6am to take a bus, that takes us to a train, that leaves us with about a quarter mile walk to school. Upon arrival we spend time ushering kids inside, feeding them breakfast, and cleaning up after the many unsuccessful attempts they have in getting the food from their bowl, to their mouth. It truly amazes me how many names I have learned and can appropriately apply to the right little faces. We eat breakfast ourselves and pray that it will be Gallo Pinto (a traditional Costa Rican breakfast dish made with rice, beans, onions, peppers, and a healthy heap of cilantro).
Next, we bring a cup of coffee to teach the older kids, throughout one, two, or three sections. They vary in age, from 6 to 12, and their English abilities vary even more, regardless of age. They spend forty minutes taking notes, completing a worksheet, or playing a game. The best received game we've created (and recycled repeatedly) is called "Circle the Word". What the name lacks in creativity, the game makes up for in competition. We will write all of our vocabulary words for a given section on the white board and divide the class into two teams. Each round, one representative from each team is called and they race to circle whichever word we say aloud. As with the majority of our games, the winning team gets bragging rights. Once I cheated with an 11 year old who was playing against Lexy. I don't think she's recovered from that loss yet.
We have two sections of children between the ages of 4 and 6. Through trial and error we have learned just how short their attention spans are, and tend to stick to full group activities so we don't lose too many. We have many, many songs that we sing. Songs that teach salutations and food items, and classics like Ole' MacDonald and Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. When we come prepared, we can color with the little ones. When we don't, we can read one of three bilingual books we have. They are still engaged when we read the Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar for the 74th time. I hate now hate that book and will never read it to my children.
Lunch duty looks much like breakfast duty, making sure everyone has gotten a plate, or seconds. The children here are much less picky with what they eat than the children I have worked with back in the states. On beet salad day, they are even less picky that I am.
Our last task in a normal day is nap time. It has been officially declared that I am not a good naptime proctor (One kid from the siesta I watch once responded to my "Buenos Suenos" or "Sweet dreams" with a "Buenos Suerte" or "Good luck") . I love having time with the kids that isn't structured around learning and I tend to play too much. I love answering questions (My favorite was from a ten year old boy who wanted more information on the Illuminati and what Beyonce is doing with them) and seeing how many words they can translate from a book on my kindle. Occasionally I arrive to them already being completely asleep. That's a scenario I can't mess up. These kids will sleep through anything. On days like that I need only back track through the easy listening CD, which skips after track 4. After naptime we cross our fingers that it isn't going to rain on our walk to the train station and head out for a nice long commute home.
Most school days are lots of fun. Some days we are being questioned on the state of affairs between the US and North Korea, some days we are being asked if we've ever been to Hoboken New Jersey, and can we show them on a map. And on the days that aren't fun, Lexy and I can always find something to laugh about, because when you aren't having fun, that's all that matters.