“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” -Angela Schwindt
Here are some thoughts from Sara Aja, a young pharmacist who has joined us here in Guatemala this week.
Today is my third day in the classroom at SewHope.
I have always loved being around children, but there is something so different about this group of kids. I help with Sunday school at my church in the United States and it seems like a constant struggle to keep children engaged and on track. Here children come in and sit right down at their computers. They grab their workbooks and begin their math programs without being prompted, and they continue to work until they are directed to their next task. They all seem so eager to learn, and I wonder what we have done to take away that eagerness from children in the US.
Several older students volunteer their time to help the younger ones, and when a child seems to be struggling with a problem their peers try to assist them. So not only are they staying on task without much direction from their teacher, but they demonstrate teamwork and joy in learning. The best part of all of this is that they are here by choice, it is November and all of these kids are on their version of summer break from school. Children in the program at Sew Hope also go to public school during the year and come here a few times per week to supplement their education. Each day they are here for 4 hours. They CHOOSE to be here and seek to learn.
I think for many of them this environment gives them something productive to do. If the children weren't here they would be at home helping their mothers around the house or not doing much of anything. Each day here they spend time in math and reading, and have time for games together in the front yard.
Most days I've been here they also spend time reading a bible story together. Today we read about the disciple Paul and how he once was a bad man but found the Lord and sought to bring glory to his name.
This time is also used to practice the children's ability to read aloud in a round robin style each taking turns. After we finished reading, everyone helped put the supplies away from the morning and made their way outside for lunch. For lunch one of the mothers cooks here for all of the students. It is amazing to me how quickly they all eat! After lunch each goes to find their toothbrush on the wall of toothbrushes and their teacher Seiner gives them a little toothpaste. When their teeth are cleaned and bellies are full they head home for the day.
Seiner has two groups- one in the morning and one in the afternoon. He is an AMAZING teacher! He provides a lot of one on one time with each student while they are working on their math or reading, and he plans fun games and activities for them each day. Yesterday I was on one of the teams for a relay race, I felt bad for my team because I was the slow one. Beyond his planning abilities, Seiner is also patient, calm, smart, and so creative! I am inspired by his love and attitude for these children!
And truly I am inspired by each of these children through their simple joys found in each day.