you don’t always get what you give

I have been putting off this blog post because I wasn’t sure how to put what I wanted to say into words so I suppose that I will just retell the stories that have very much touched me these past two weeks. The theme if you will of this post is that the people and children that I have been working with for the past two weeks are just so ready and willing to share so much when they have no little and it is one of the most touching and humbling things that I have experienced.

My first story will be from the last day of teaching. I was in an English class and being the animated person that I am I was talking with my hands, somehow figuring hand gestures would further get my point across. While doing so the bracelets that I have slowly accumulated while on this trip were shaking and colorful strings were flying every which way. At the end of the class a crowd of students ran up to me (as they did all of us by the end of the week ) and starting speaking Spanish to me and pointing to my bracelets. I assumed that since I had acquired so many over the past week they wanted one. I was very reluctant to give any up however because most of the colorful strings on my wrist have been given to me by former students. After I had  shook my head no and a few students made some disappointing sounds the smallest girl in the class pushed her way to the front. She then proceeded to take off a bracelet from her wrist and before I could refuse she had tied it in a neat little bow on my arm. She then hugged me, said “thank you RaGine for teach me English” and walked away. My eyes watered up and I started after her because I felt bad because the bracelet had been hers but she was gone. The bracelet is still in its original bow on my wrist untouched and it will remain there for a very long time.

Along with bracelets the students were forever trying to give us trinkets or letters or hugs, but on the Wednesday one of my students from one of my Monday classes came up to me and asked for a picture, I agreed (never being able to say no regardless) and after the picture was taken he handed me a beautifully decorated piece of paper. It was actually a love letter explaining his love for me but what really was amazing was how truly talented this picture actually was. Every word was in English, my name was spelt correctly (which is a big deal) but it was the art work that stood out. I don’t know how long it took Rogger to make this letter for me but I am sure that it was not simply just a quick sketch. It was amazing, the colors all blended together and they were so bright and vibrant. It truly touched me that this boy took so much time and care to make this for me when I am sure he could have been working, studying, or sleeping. It was just an amazing feeling.

But the biggest thing that hit home this week that shows they are so willing to give even when they don’t have was the very first visit at the school. We arrived in the afternoon and it was sweltering hot, since at first we thought we could only wear capries or pants so in order to keep cool I opted for flip flops. As soon as we got to the school it was recess and there was a large game of soccer going on. Ready and eager to jump right in, I walked down to the court and asked a boy in very broken Spanish if I could join he agreed and I was off. So there I was one of the only white people there, sweating buckets just standing around never mind running, and sliding all over the place attempting to play soccer in flip flops. After I had almost landed on my butt a few times to the amusement of the kids I was running past one boy who reached out and grabbed me. He rambled some Spanish off and looked at me with a very quizzical look on his face. After I told him I didn’t understand what he said and I could only speak a little Spanish he laughed. Then he pointed to my flip flop shook his head no, and proceeded to take off his shoe and hand it to me. There I was sweat rolling down my face, back, and neck, and sticking out like a sore thumb and this boy that lives in a neighbourhood where the houses are built out of what ever people can find, running water is not common, and the roads are dirt offering me his shoe. Tears started to stream down my face that I am sure blended into the sweat but didn’t hide the fact that I was crying. I shook my head no and gave him the biggest hug. I couldn’t believe that this boy was offering me his shoe right off his foot, just the fact that he had never met me before and was so willing to just give up something that clearly he needed touched me.

The stories don’t do the feeling justice but I suppose and hope it will give whoever reads this a taste of what we were surrounded with this week. The compassion, love, interest, readiness to learn and, overall appreciation was amazing. We went down there to teach some individuals some games for phys ed class and some English and I know both sides of the exchange came away with much much more than either was expecting.