Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Proud to be serving

I began the morning with Don Luis, where we were tasked with sweeping, mopping, and cleaning the surfaces of the learning kitchen area. Once this job was completed, we moved on to collecting trash around the cafeteria and café. I was a bit surprised and rather disappointed that many students do not seem to have any qualms with leaving their refuse on the grounds of their beautiful campus. After clearing the area, we moved on to sweeping and mopping the boy's bathroom as well as the main corridor between classrooms. Don Luis gently reminded me to keep my posture straight and upright while cleaning, which I imagine is good for both the body and the preservation of dignity while performing a job that many people (especially Americans) would consider "lowly"; I was proud to have the students seeing me doing this kind of work, as proof of my sincere devotion to serving them and their school. 

Soon enough it was time for the morning snack break which I enjoyed with Maggie, Farid, Calero, and Henry; the sweet fresh fruit was very welcome and helped alleviate much of my sleepiness. Then I headed down to the gym with Karen, Sergio, and a troupe of students to begin setting up the space for the annual "Traspaso de Poderes", where the new student government officers will be ceremoniously sworn in. We brought down 42 chairs from various classrooms (taking care not to disturb any of the students taking tests) and set them up on either side of a stage comprised of 34 wood risers that Sergio and I brought out from storage. Karen led a group of students in making beautiful decorations in the colors of the Costa Rican flag which were adorned on the recently assembled stage, which was adorned by both coffee bean sacks (a nice aesthetic touch) as well as a soccer goal draped in to bright white sheets upon which were affixed shimmering blue letters bearing the title of the event. Sergio then facilitated my leading of an English-language game of "Simon Says" which was both very enjoyable for everyone involved and productive as a teaching aid. 

Playing Simon Says! 

After a super tasty lunch, I returned to Sergio's classroom to assist him in preparing his students for their oral examinations. The test topics included naming the various parts of a house (in English) as well as all of the interior rooms and the various items that might be found in each one. Then we covered an extremely important topic in both Costa Rican and North American culture: making coffee. I led the students in reviewing the step-by-step process of brewing a pot of coffee as well as challenged them to name each individual part of the coffee-making machine. I noticed that the students had particular difficulty pronouncing the word "reservoir" (which isn't even English), specifically the "v" sound, but after slow, clear, repeated demonstration of how to form one’s lips in the pronunciation, most everyone caught on. I was pleased that this group of students was much more engaged, attentive, and respectful than the last class we worked with. After our review I led the students in smaller group learning sessions focused on identifying and correctly pronouncing English letters, animals, and phrases, while Sergio called in the students one by one to test them. 

Students listening attentively to Justin 
go over rooms in a house in English class 

Justin and Franciny 

After class we ventured down to the gym and to witness the transfer of powers ceremony, which included a short skit and speeches from both newly-elected officials and the principal of the school. As a veteran of Student Government affairs (Sophomore and Junior class VP, as well as overall school President), I was touched with vicarious pride for these young leaders and recounted fond memories of my own experiences. It was wonderful to see the students so earnestly invested in the betterment of their school. Surely they will continue to make excellent and upstanding leaders in their community!

Entry submitted by: Justin

Message of the Day – Maggie: “The highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it, but what they become because of it.” – John Ruskin

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