There’s a first for everything! Could volunteering in the Caribbean with Global Volunteers be one of yours? Learn from Rechelle and her teenage daughter Kayla (pictured above) about experiences you can expect volunteering in Anse la Raye – on the island of St. Lucia.
My service program with Global Volunteers will live me forever! Although I’ve been to the Caribbean more times than I can remember, I’m certain I will never forget my experience in Anse La Raye, because I know I truly made a difference to children. And I also experienced many firsts.
- First time working in a preschool.
- First taste of bread fruit.
- First view of a mangrove.
- First mud bath.
- First swim under a waterfall.
- First Catholic mass.
Needless to say, the first of these “firsts” was the most significant. Working with the lovely children will leave an indelible mark on my memory.
The Kid’s Step program, where my daughter Kayla and I worked, was a lively, colorful, quaint little schoolhouse, with 50 students spread across three classrooms — the Tiny Tots, the Tweenies, and the Rising 5s.
Kid’s Step Early Childhood Learning Center is a private preschool for the children of Anse la Raye, most who come from very poor families. The parents pay a modest tuition and purchase uniforms for their daughters and sons. The Catholic Church provides some funding to enable as many children to attend as possible. The program enables parents to work, and to ensure that their children are prepared for public school.
On day one, I was introduced as “Auntie” Rechelle, which indicated that I was not officially a teacher, but rather a teacher’s helper, equally deserving of the children’s respect. Within 20 minutes, I knew the names of all 17 of my Tweenies! Yes, soon after I arrived, I did consider them mine! Their smiles warmed my heart. Their sing-songy voices were a delight to hear. The way they called me “Auntie” made me feel like I was at home with my own nieces and nephews. And I loved the way Alejandro called me Sharelle instead of Rechelle.
We’re involved in their entire day. There is a morning assembly for prayers, songs, and the sharing of news. After assembly, the children are dispatched to their classrooms for learning and playing activities. All play here is learning in disguise! Snack is at 10, lunch is at 12, then all children rest and nap until 2pm. This is when we eat our lunch, and help teachers pick up toys and prepare lesson materials for the next day. Parents pick up their children from 2:30-3. It’s so fun to meet the mothers of the children I’ve grown so fond of!
I got to spend the week with an amazing group of Tweenies, 3 and 4 year olds, working hard to advance to the Rising 5s. To get there, my Tweenies needed to know their colors, the letters of the alphabet, and the sounds each letter makes. They had to identify not just basic shapes like a square or a triangle, but also a trapezoid, a parallelogram, and an octagon. Wow! Teacher Sameeta has prepared them well, and I’m glad I got to be their Auntie for a week to witness their skills.
Global Volunteers has worked in this school since 2012. It’s clear to all that the children love having volunteers there, and they’re responsive to our guidance and mentoring. The teachers are very gracious and tell us how helpful we are. I’m impressed with how well they run the classes. The children know what is expected, and work hard to rise to their potential. By the time the Rising Fives graduate, the teachers expect them to know colors, shapes, letters, numbers, and to be able to write their names.
Of all the “firsts” I experienced on this momentous program, I’m most grateful for my opportunity to encourage, guide and love the children at Kids’ Step. I’m grateful and proud to have played a minor role in their development. Perhaps, I’ll read one day that one of “my” students is the leader of the country! That would be another exciting “first!”
Experience your own “firsts” in St. Lucia!
Visit our St. Lucia page for FAQs, program dates, project descriptions and more. Or, chat now with a Volunteer Coordinator to get started today. We’re ready to assist you with travel questions, registration guidance, and other program details.