I am nearing the end of my time at Las Manos de Christine and I have bittersweet emotions. In one way I am excited to start the next journey ahead of me, but I am also sad to leave the children and community of El Hato. The community has accepted me into their lives and I am going to miss the sounds of children shouting my name from the hills as I walk around the village. I am going to miss playing futbol. Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, and building puzzles during recess time. Most of all I am going to miss seeing the progression of students in the classroom.
As teachers no matter what subject matter we teach, we always focus on developing kindness, empathy, trying your hardest, and teamwork. Seeing the improvement in students in these areas is always of far more importance to me than the scores they receive on an exam. Just the other day I dropped the box that I carry all of my supplies in. There were books, pencils, and markers everywhere. I bent down to pick them up and before I could get to the floor I had a swarm of kids there to help me retrieve all of the supplies. Granted, I am six foot four and it takes me a minute to get down to the ground. Even still the kids were so quick and eager to help me, as if they didn’t even have to think about it. This empathetic maturity that the children in El Hato possess has always amazed me. When I look back on my experience here I will always remember the smiles, the GOOD MOOOOORNINGS!!, and the eagerness to help someone else.
I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this amazing experience. Salina Duncan and the LMDC staff, the Earth Lodge, the children, families, and teachers of the El Hato School, and all of the long and short term volunteers who have helped along the way. Thank you all for accepting me into this wonderful community and helping to make this the most wonderful experience of my teaching career. I hope more people get the opportunity to work in this community. It is an amazing experience that you will never forget.
PS: Recently we created a teaching video which can give you a sneak peak into a typical class in El Hato. If you would like to check it out just search for the Las Manos de Christine Teaching video on You Tube.