Sadly, today is my last day – I am wishing I would have signed up for the full two weeks.
I am back with Tía Karina and her three year olds. Of the three classes I’ve assisted with, this one is the most demanding – with several, uh…independent, rambunctious boys (I secretly nickname them los diablitos (little devils)). Given I’ve been with these lovable rascals twice before, no nametags are required. I find myself referring to them as my students when talking with the other volunteers. The children now call me Roberto or Papá.
Tía Karina doesn’t hesitate putting me to work – creating a moon and star picture for the kids to glue glitter on top of. I draw a misshaped moon and cut it crookedly. Next I glue the colored see-through film to the cardboard, getting as much glue on the table and my hands as on the paper. I am proof that artistic aptitude is not a pre-requisite to be a service volunteer. The children dip their index fingers into a cap full of glue and dab the film repeatedly. Then they sprinkle gold glitter over the glue spots. The results are yet another clever, attractive picture that will go into their school year scrapbook.
Mark and Dee Dee painting the murals
The morning flies by and it is lunch time. As we wait for the food to arrive at the table, the kids begin to squirm in their chairs and act like a bunch of three year olds. I take out a small foam ball that I brought with me. Raising the ball in the air, I announce that this is “la pelota de cosquillas” (the tickle ball) and ask if anyone wants to see how it works. Silence until Jordin shyly says, “Sí.” Slowly I walk up behind him and gently tap him on the forehead, then his ear, then his back. He bends his head backwards to look up at me and I see my opening: I press the ball into his exposed neck. He is very ticklish and squeals with laughter. Now the other kids are more receptive: Juliana and Brittany yell out: “¡A mí, a mí!” (Me, me!) I go around the table, three times, tickling necks, underarms, and tummies.
Tía Ruby, Tía Alexandra, and Liz in English class
Soon it’s nap time in the dormitorio (bedroom). After marching to our assigned bed, I ask shy, tiny Kimberly if she wants to go to the moon – but she doesn’t answer. It’s my last day so I’m feeling cocky – I quickly count to three and, making rocket engine noises, lift her up over my head and then provide a gentle landing onto the bed. The next nine times I ask the question, the responses are all positive. Andrés says, “¡Otra vez!” (Again!), but I explain that the booster engine is running low on fuel.
At the end of the day there is an informal ceremony because Dee Dee and I are leaving. We exchange thank you cards with the tías we worked with. I struggle to put some words on a blank white piece of paper and add some dorky stick figure faces as decorations. I attempt to read Tía Karina’s card out loud in Spanish and am choked with emotion. What I get from the tías are works of art of colored paper with scalloped edges, pipe cleaner flowers, and many kind words.
Who knew that taking three-year-olds ten meters to the restroom would be like herding cats? Juliana and Brittany held my hand whenever we left the room. Thinking and speaking in pidgin Spanish has left me exhausted. Looking at the pictures Liz, our team photographer, has been taking, I see I’m smiling in almost all of them.
It was the hardest fun I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to come back.
Entry submitted by: Roberto
Message of the Day – Liz: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela