If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I am so incredibly grateful to have the unique privilege to share my passion with others, even through simple activities. At the end of each class and each lesson I find myself gaining even more clarity and fulfillment than I thought was possible. What makes this so important for me is that its not always the easiest task to communicate and connect with the children I work with. Nevermind the language barrier and that I see four different groups of kids a week, add in that, more often than not, the children I work with are extremely rowdy. That being said, it is a daily struggle to create and execute productive lessons. But, even on my worst days, even on the days I think I haven’t succeeded at all, those same kids come up to me at the end of a lesson and shake my hand, give me a high five and a fist bump, or hug my neck, and say every time, “Obrigado tia Anna, ate amanha.” They come in a point to their artwork on the walls of Emarca, and even though the might wine about having to do another art lesson before they can go outside a play futbol, they always enjoy the lesson and so many ask me to do more. Not every day feels like success, but I’ve realized that isn’t the point. Rather, every day is just as much as a lesson and learning experience for me as it is for the kids. These kids are so much more than their outbursts, which are sometimes the only way they know to treat others and get attention. They are so much more than something to gape at on the dreaded “favela tours.” They are so much more than poverty, poor education, and a lack of resources. They are present, and they are hungry to love and learn.
So in the past few weeks the Emarca staff, the other volunteers and I have focused on lessons about Earth, Globe, and Geography. Here are some of the things we have done. We started out the unit by learning “reduce, reuse, recycle” concepts. Then we made several crafts using recycled materials to illustrate how common materials that could be thrown away could be used to make art.
Later in the week we had the opportunity to accompany the Emarca staff and the kids to an Earth and Astronomy museum where the kids learned about the solar system and planted strawberries in ecofriendly, recycled containers in a community garden.
The next week we learned about the globe and countries around the world. We started by teaching the kids the English words for the continents and oceans as well as having them learn the countries in South America. At the end of the lesson we divided the kids into groups and had them draw out a map of the world and label the continents and oceans they learned.
Today, as a seemingly divine wrap up, the kids asked us if they could make French flags and posters for the recent tragedies in France. As you can imagine, my heart melted at the thought that with so much violence and hatred in the world, even small children want to send their love and light to people they don’t even know.