Today I went to Colegio San Javier to help at their after-school program. This school is about two blocks away from where my host family lives, and I walk by it almost every day. Last week I decided to walk in just to see if they were in any need of English help. The secretary of the school excitedly told me: “Yes! We’re starting a program next week, and it’d be great if a native English speaker came to help the kids with their English homework! It’s from 5:00-6:00 every Monday and Thursday”.
So, today (and last Monday) I walked over from my house after I was done volunteering at Fundamind to see where I could help at San Javier. It’s a small, private, Catholic school, so it’s a completely different environment. But nonetheless, there are students who need help with English!
Today, I helped a 3rd grader named Lola. She had some English homework that she didn’t understand, so we cracked open the book to see what her assignment was. She had to form questions (“What is your favorite type of music?”) and then answer them. Lola had attempted the first two examples, but her answers were pretty far off. I asked if she had an eraser, thinking we could just erase the first two and start new. Suddenly, her eyes filled with tears as she exclaimed “No sé ingles! Quiero quedar con mi mama….quiero llamar mi mama!” (I don’t know English! I want to stay with my mom, I want to call my mom!)
I did my best to calm down Lola, telling her, “We will work together! Did you know I’m from the United States? I can speak English, I can help you…I came here to help people learn English!” She stopped, swallowed, and said, “de hecho?” (Really?)
We chatted for a bit about the U.S., and she pulled out some candy she had bought a kiokso. I told her how our candy is different, and how I love to try all the new candy here.
We got started in on her English homework, and before no time she was forming questions and writing the answers on her own. Every time she formed a sentence correctly, I said “very good”, and her eyes lit up. She was learning.
About half way through her homework, she reached over to her candy stash and said “Queires probar uno?” (Do you want to try one?).
I was honored that Lola had offered some of her candy to me, and excited to try the caramelo. It was a little bit like taffy.
Lola and I completed her worksheet, and at 6pm her mom showed up to take her home. I encouraged Lola to show her mother her completed homework, because she’d done a very good job. I also told her to come back next Monday, because I would be there to help her if she needed. We’ll have to wait and see, but I really hope my new friends comes back on Monday (and I hope she brings some more candy).