I HAVE A ROUTINE NOW! ...it will probably change knowing Dominican culture and just the ins and outs of working in a non-profit, but as of right now...I have a routine! That said routine looks like:
7:30am – waking up to the sounds of music and girls screaming “MA” as they are waiting for breakfast
Breakfast for me & journaling
9:30am – my first class of the day! This class is two of the younger girls that are eager to learn but get frustrated when I only speak in English. “Miss Jessica! Por favor habla en espanol primero y luego en ingles” But I have learned that conversation and acting out of sentences when speaking is the fastest way these girls are going to learn English.
10:30am – my second class of the day! This class is with the super young girls, the six year olds to be specific. This class looks like a lot of Simon Says and sitting criss crossed applesauce together.
11:00am – my third class of the day! These are the older girls so naturally the class is called “The Big Girls”. Today I broke the news to them that I was only going to be speaking in English when the class began. They were mad at me but by the end, they knew that that was going to be the best way to learn. This is the class that knows how many more opportunities there are when you are bilingual, so they push themselves to get to that level. They get frustrated for about 80% of the class but we work through it each time.
3:00pm – my fourth class of the day! This class is one on one with the psychologist, Ada! She is amazing. She understands most English but there is a need for her to be a translator in the future and for her to go to the states and promote New Hope Girls while speaking in English so this class is opening doors for her. She and I just sit and talk about anything. I know that she and I will get close with this hour together each day.
4:00pm – my fifth class of the day! This class is made up of the advanced English speakers in the house. There are three girls in this class that have been passionate about English for a while now and are able to understand me. I sit with them on a couch and make the class very casual. We talk about life, our stories, our highs and lows of each day all in English. I truly believe that they will be fluent by the end of this year.
5:00pm – (Mondays and Wednesdays) my sixth and final class of the day! In this class, there are the caretakers! These women work two days at a time watching over the 15 girls in the house. This hour on Mondays and Wednesdays is solely for them. I use this class as a very conversational class as well and am hopeful that this will open more doors for them in the future in their work and speaking to the American visitors.
These are my summer class hours, but during the year I will be teaching the girls that are not quite ready to go to a school in the neighborhood yet. School starts on August 19 here so that is when my English classes are pushed to Saturdays and I just teach all academics during the day. I will mainly be working with the new six year old! She is a cutie and loves to count to ten!
Now that I have somewhat of a routine, I feel more settled here and am starting to call this place my home. Although I miss my friends and family very much, I know this is where I am supposed to be this year. There are moments when it is harder than normal but I have my co-workers to lean on. These women that work for New Hope Girls are some of the most incredible ladies I have ever met in my life. It was just the other night that I reflected while in devotion with the girls and the two caretakers. I looked around the small room filled with eighteen women and girls and felt a peace, a peace for these girls. These girls are learning that they are now in a safe place, a place of refuge. Each day, the caretakers are reminding them that this is a safe place and we will take care of them. Many times, girls ask “Who will take care of me?” because they are so accustomed to worrying each day of their basic needs. But now that they are here at the safe house, we always reassure them that they are safe and they are being taken care of and that their needs are being met. When I looked around the room, I felt like the caretakers were lionesses protecting their sweet cubs. These women are warriors for these girls and each night I love to remember that. This house wouldn’t be here without them, these girls would not feel loved like they do without them. This is a house of light and hope and the caretakers are a huge part of that.
These women are strong, fierce, and so beautiful. Today, give that strong woman in your life a huge hug, she will love it.