Day 11: Goodbye Guayaquil
May 23, our official last day at Colegio 20 De Abril. Yesterday was our last day teaching physical education, whereas today we are hanging out and teaching the handful of students who are apart of the school’s youth group (same group as Day 5). We start out by showing them the website Cynthia (and a few other members of MacEwan University) created to help the youth group leaders educate their peers, and we explain how they can change and customize it to make it their own. All of this happened after a good amount of technical difficulties but we were able to entertain everyone until things were sorted out. One of the youth, Roxy, asked me what Canada looked like and it just so happen that I had pictures of Canada’s landscape on my camera. As I flipped through pictures, each student has a different reaction to the white, fluffy snow featured: gasps, giggles of disbelief, and confusion to name a few. As I scrolled through my camera, the students would often tell me to stop or back up to a picture of my group of friends or family members, and ask about them, who they were and if I missed them or if I thought they missed me; adding to the depth of my relationship with each of the youth. Although I answered their questions honestly, it would take a bit of convincing to prove that some of the photos were actually of my siblings and not of me (I suppose we do look ridiculously alike).
Once our mini computer presentation was completed, it was time for play!! We brought out the skipping ropes, they added some tune, and our creativity took it from there. We ended up tying two skipping ropes together and creating one lengthy one that multiple people could use at one time. We played a few skipping rope games, which morphed into a mini skill competition. It is amazing to see each student perform and show us what they are capable of while adding their own unique flavor to their set of skills. For example: Julio (not our driver) can jump incredible high but has an inconsistent sense of rhythm, making skipping somewhat of an interesting endeavor; and Roxy has a very good sense of rhythm and beat, add in her hip hop style and you have got a very entertaining skipper. After attempting several team skips (where everyone tries to skip at the same time), it seemed we had exhausted our skipping creativity and moved onto limbo. The youth group’s flexibility was at an unforeseen caliber; they limboed like I have never seen before! They did back flips over the rope, they did flips, and other acrobatic moves completely ignoring the concrete we were standing on.
Side note: something that I am having difficulty adjusting to is their lack in safety. Or should I say differentiation? Uneven pavement that are randomly raised in various areas, sometimes with gaping holes with no warning signs or neon spray paint to draw attention to them. The rusted nails and bottle caps, sharp pieces of tile, and twisted chunks of metal that are randomly distributed in what little green space the children have to play in; forcing kids, teens and adults to play on solid concrete because it is safer than playing the grass/dirt area. In Canada we have laws against littering and pay people to pick up the litter surrounding the city. We put up road signs for the simplest construction tasks. I am not sure if Ecuador enjoy living on the edge or if Canada is coddling its population, but I do not think that I will fully adapt to the safety standards here.
We skipped, we did limo, and then we danced! Their creativity blossomed as the different variations of music emitted from the speakers. At one point Eminem started playing, and the youth group stood there in awe as half of our group started rapping, repeating line by line of the song. We formed a dance circle and that is where the cultural exchange really began. Arms and fists pumping, hips swaying, and legs popping all keeping time with whatever song came on; the only limitations being the ones we set on ourselves. Music is a universal language that needs no instructions, just an open mind and the ability to laugh with others and at yourself. One great thing about the dance is that although both parties might not speak the same language, the rhythm is universally understood; a 4/4 count is the same in Spanish and English. So when a partner asks you to dance, it no longer matters what language you speak, what matters is your ability to lead or follow.
Saying goodbye to the youth group was more difficult than the other physical education classes yesterday. Not only did we have the two closed sessions with the youth group, but the teens also participated in the physical education classes we taught; meaning these teens got double the time with us. We learned more about this group of teens than anyone else we taught, we receiver a bigger glimpse into their lives and who they really were, got to know their personalities on a more intimate level. At the end of the second session, we were not just saying goodbye to students we had taught for a few days, we were saying goodbye to so much more. We might never see these teens again. And if when we do, what will their lives look like? How will they have changed? Our influence in their lives is slowly coming to an end and I began to wonder if they will make good choices, if they will cease every great opportunity that comes their way, and I wonder how they will overcome all the obstacles (big or small) that life is sure to given them. And although the words of departure slip out of my mouth as we give our last hugs goodbye, I realize that there is no way that I will be able to describe who or what I am saying goodbye to.
End of day 11.