Hello family, friends, and other readers,
I apologize for taking so long to create my next blog post. I am sure you’re curious about how I am doing and what I am doing. You see, every time I go to write about my experiences thus far, I keep finding myself in a dilemma with whether or not to share some things. I want to make sure I am being authentic to myself and my service, but I also do not want to portray one story of Guyana in that my words are the only words you hear. So, this will be a reminder that my blog is my story of my service with the intent to share my experiences with you.
“24 months seemed like an eternity . . . ”
I have been at my site and living with my host family for almost three months. Details to come, but I am doing great and better than my last homestay. It’s honestly crazy how fast time goes by. 24 months at my site seemed like an eternity when I first got to Guyana, but now that I only have 21 months left, I’m worried I wont have enough time. I’m five weeks away from my first term at school being over, and seven months from my first [out two] school year being done. Is the glass half full or half empty? I guess it just depends on how you look at it.
“. . . eye-opening, chaotic, and enriching.”
So far, my time at school has been nothing short of eye-opening, chaotic, and enriching.
My school opened my eyes to the ability to provide education in any circumstance. Classrooms vary by region, school, and grade. I teach all of grade eight and all of grade seven. That is a total of eleven classes all an hour each. Both grades that I teach have their classes in the same building but on different floors or what they call flats. The grade seven flat has five out of the six classes with around 30 students in each all separated by chalkboards. The grade eight flat is similar with four out of the five classes in one space. The noise level gets loud and the attention of the students can be lost easily, but my students still have desks and benches and the ability to learn. In the secondary schools, teachers move from class to class rather than the kids. I do not have my own classroom, so I move myself, my belongings, and teaching materials from class to class all day. Not only do I find this an inconvenience for myself, but also for the students. The kids are forced to sit in the same seats all day, everyday with no room, time, or opportunity to get the blood flowing through their body and brain. So, in order to make the best of both my students and my situation, I more often than not take my kids out of the classroom. I have learned that I don’t always need desks or a chalkboard to teach class and getting my students out of the classroom gives them the break they need from a typical class they during the day.
My school has been chaotic. Things go at their own pace but can change without notice. Coming into my school I was immediately told that my counterpart (primary teacher I work with) and my Head Mistress (principle) would be transferring to new schools. My timetable (or schedule) has changed three times. I am supposed to be co-teaching for 11 HFLE classes, that is all of grade seven and all of grade eight. The first timetable had three teachers working with me for four out of eleven classes. The second timetable had me working with nine teachers for my eleven classes; however, nine of those teachers have had formal training on the subject matter. The third and current timetable allows me to co-teach with four teachers for five out of eleven classes. This still leaves me teaching majority of my classes solo and being in the class room alone. This is neither ideal nor how my framework describes what I am supposed to be doing in the schools, but it’s my situation right now. Challenges will come and go, and this just happens to be one I am encountering at school.
My school has been culturally enriching. Although I learned a lot about Guyana’s culture during training, I would say that my greatest education in this department has been during school hours. From the condition of classrooms to the importance of uniforms, I have begun to understand Guyana more. However, I find myself questioning things within the school. Is it more important to suspend a child for a week for not having the proper hem width on their pants than to suspend a child who fighting for three days? Is it more important to have a perfect looking attendance book than to provide quality education to the students? No education system in any part of the world is perfect, but when do you stop and ask “Is what we are doing providing tangible results?” When I ask the students why something is done a certain way here in Guyana, they either do not know the answer or they are really excited to explain the answer. My students also proceed to ask me if what they do is what kids in America do too. They are as excited to share their cultures as they are to ask me about mine.
“Don’t be a superhero, be a resource.”
My time at school has brought mixed feelings. Literally. Some days I love it, but other days I feel defeated that my time in Guyana won’t be long enough. On days that I am feeling doubtful, I always remind myself of this – in the end, its not about solving all the health issues in Guyana, let alone my site. Its about making connections and leaving a positive impact on one person. Don’t be a superhero, be a resource.
I know this post was brief, but I hope it provided a glimpse into what my experiences at school have been like the last three months. I’ll write another blog with more experiences once the term is up.
I miss you all at home. Stay golden!