Day 4: Our First Day of School
Hola mis Amigos! Erica here! Day 4, phew! We’ve had a good run so far, don’t yah think? Today was our first day heading to the specific organizations that we are working at; so Jaime, Tisha, Dan, Sarah, Kaylin, Nicole and I went with Darielle and Cynthia to Hogar de Cristo to work at Colegio 20 de Abril. Cynthia and Darielle are involved in a peer- lead sexual health program, so we were asked to work there with them this morning. Our goals working with them today where to give the student group games and ice breakers that could be used as tools to facilitate discussion of various sexual health topics. The games are intended to build trust with each other, to build confidence and self- esteem, and to improve communication skills which they will then be able to pass onto their peers.
Later on in the afternoon we would begin teaching our physical education classes. As the morning group was only 7 students instead of the 30-40 students we would be working with later, it was a good introduction into to the kind of situation we would be in, but on a much smaller scale. When we first arrived it was a little bit awkward (and of course the language barrier didn’t help), but one looooooong game of “the human knot” later and we were rolling. After teaching them another ice breaker, one of the boys, Kevin, wanted to teach us a game. It was really fun and a little bit challenging to learn a game in Spanish. The game itself was a sing-song one that had something to do with shoes and colors and calling the group of that color – I would just put the words down for you, but let’s be honest, I don’t have any idea what the words were. But it was a really fun game. It was really great to see that he had opened up so well to us and wanted to take that initiative and just go with the flow and lead an activity. Not everyone is like that and that’s a real special quality in him.
We did one more team building game with them involving crossing a volcanic lava pit with limited supplies (I know you wish you were there) before we got some free time to just play with them and get to know them. During this time we did varying activities from basketball, to juggling, to Frisbee and really, whatever we wanted. One of the really interesting I things I saw happen was a game progression from hand tennis, to using the Frisbees as the tennis rackets. Kelley told us a story of how she was on a trip, doing some similar work to the trip we’re on and they brought Frisbees as well. Apparently the kids there started off by using the Frisbees for purposes other than what they’re intended for which is really awesome to see. That is until they were told how to use a Frisbee and that it is meant to be used that way only. As a future Phys. Ed. Teacher I think it’s important to give kids that freedom and let them use their creativity, and to learn, and to be innovative with their own ideas. So when the group playing tennis utilized the Frisbees in that way to enhance their game play, I thought it was a really awesome moment. After we were done playing we all had lunch together. It was one of the boy’s, Jonathon’s, birthday so we were able to sing him happy birthday, both in Spanish and in English! It was a really fun morning and getting to know those children was a really amazing experience. Being able to be a part of the group this morning I think helped us ease into the type of situation we would be in during the afternoon.
Before we started our afternoon sessions with the classes we tried to debrief and come up with a game plan for our first class. Although we had a plan, and an idea of what we wanted to do, I’m not quite sure that all of us were quite on the same page. Our first group of students were ages 12-14 and seemed genuinely excited to be there. The PE instructor basically let us run the class and sat off on the side. We did a bit of warm up with them to start with which they seemed pretty receptive to, but after that it definitely turned into organized chaos. Again we did the human knot and a couple of icebreaker games in smaller groups. Once we broke off into those groups and I had a group of about 7 young boys it was a little hard. Not being able to speak the language meant that we (as we were individually working with groups) had to come up with a way to explain the games. It was a little bit challenging, but as these were the games we had already done with the first group, we had had some practice explaining them and seemed a bit more prepared. Following these activities we split the kids into 2 groups, one group who played with the parachute, and one who played different tag activities. Working in the parachute group was pretty easy as we were able to demonstrate the games we wanted to play. We did have the intentions of switching groups halfway through, but unfortunately time was up before we knew it!
Going into the second group (15-17 yrs.) we had a much better idea of what it is that we were doing. We strategized and planned out our time with the kids a little bit better. We made sure to keep track of the time this time and split the class into three separate stations ran by 2 of us: A Frisbee skill station, a games station, and a parachute station. I found that as a group, we worked much better as a team this time, especially when we had a game plan and knew what was going on. It was a lot easier to anticipate the sort of adjustments and changes we could have had to make by being better prepared. Following the class we had some spare time and the PE teacher thought it would be fun to teach us Ecuavoley, the Ecuadorian version of volleyball. It was pretty similar to “American volleyball” except that it was 3 on 3, and the net was extremely higher and thinner. It was really fun to learn and to play against some of the kids at the school. Volleyball’s not my best sport as is, so playing with a higher net (as I am, as some would say, on the short side) was pretty hard, but still fun to do, and I’m sure pretty funny to watch.
While preparing to go into the third group, we knew that participation levels would probably be lower as the ones in this group were 18+, and that they would probably be more interested in playing sports related games vs. the sort of games we were previously playing. We didn’t really have the equipment to get ball sports going so we decided to play a varied version of ultimate Frisbee. We really worked together as a team this time in agreeing on how we were going to play, and how we were going to lead up to the game. When the class arrived we split into 4 smaller teams ran by 1 or 2 of us. We then started playing pepper, and showing them varying ways to throw, strategies for catching, and working on those skills before getting into the games. I was really proud of the group I was working with because we actually seemed to be communicating, and they were able to grasp the concepts that I was trying to teach them. We had an interpreter there (yay!) to help explain the rules of the game, and then let them go at it. It was really fun to watch how eventually, they turned our game into a game of their own and had a ton of fun with it. Almost everyone was participating, which I guess is a challenge for this group as some of them are “to cool for school,” but it was a great way for everyone to get involved. It was really amazing to see how we as a group went from not really working together and struggling to make cohesive plans, to really coming together as a team and rocking the last group! It was a great eye opener for me to see some of the challenges that are faced when working in this type of situation, and I know that our next classes will be even better because we already know that we can work together!
Thanks for reading!!!