I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last few months of volunteering with the KKIS project, a local charity organisation providing English tuition and school supplies to a local school in Playa del Carmen. The grade two and three students I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with on Wednesday afternoons for the last couple months have never failed to impress me with their love of learning and fun. It’s hard to believe the year is already half-way through; since we’ve all worked so hard they’ve given us the summer off!
Over the last semester we’ve done some creative activities together, like cutting clothes out of magazines to learn their names and sticking them onto six-fingered ladies (!!!). We’ve learned the words for body parts, food items and jobs, and thought about what we want to be when we grow up. Something tells me Playa del Carmen is going to have a surplus of Veterinarians in about 15 years’ time!
Last week, the volunteers were invited to attend a ‘gratitude day’, an event to show appreciation to the school’s supporters. We were sat at the front near the stage and presented with chilled water bottles and cool towels (it was hot!) while the kids gave speeches and performances. It was all very formal and well-organised, with the school going to great lengths to put on an impressive show.
Even the school Mothers took to the stage for a traditional ribbon dance from the Yucatan, wearing floral Mayan dresses.
It was great to see My Norlevo, the grade three teacher, steal the show as the only male dancer (center). He’s such a good-humoured guy when we take over his classroom every week, so we made sure we gave him lots of hoots and hollers during his performance.
The following Wednesday, our final lesson before summer break, I found myself in his classroom and was lucky enough to be placed with with four gorgeous grade-three girls; Camilla (above), Maria, Ixchel and Valentina, and… Hugo.
As the only boy, Hugo was slightly outnumbered, so I guess his disinterest during the lesson was understandable. I struggled to get him to participate, in stark contrast to the girls who fought over each other to answer the comprehension questions about the story we read. Things changed when I brought out my phone at the end of class however; suddenly Hugo was all eyes and hands as he fought for control of the exciting gadget.
He enjoyed being both in front of and behind the camera, posing for photos as well as trying his hand at photography.
I think he did a pretty good job taking the one above, aside from the light streaming in from behind which couldn’t be helped…
I know teachers shouldn’t have favourites, but these girls are mine, as they provided me with the most enjoyable class I’ve had so far. I had so much fun with them thanks to their enthusiasm, intelligence and humour. At the end of the class they threw a barrage of questions my way in Spanish, “Tiene esposo? Tiene hijos?”(are you married? Do you have kids?) and when I answered “no, solo tengo novio” (no, I just have a boyfriend), they erupted into a fit of embarrassed giggles and flushed cheeks.
When I turned the boyfriend question around on them, I understood that Maria likes a boy but he isn’t her boyfriend, and the other girls are happy being single. Looking around the class, I agreed, the boys were no match for these beautiful, smart girls. Although we were supposed to be speaking English, it was the last class of term so I relished the opportunity to get to know the kids better and practice a little Spanish.
It’s been a wonderful experience to be a part of their lives for the last semester, and I’m looking forward to what the next one will bring.
Find out more about volunteering and donating to the KKIS (Keeping Kids In School) Project on my community page!