Wednesday June 2, 2010
It’s June!!!! That means I’ve been here a whole month already and my first question is: Where did the time go? June also signifies a month since I moved home from college (terrifying), the 6th month that I have been travelling (thrilling) and the last month that I am 22 (petrifying). But a month in a country also means that any lingering questions subside and I begin to really love where I am. I get comfortable, content and start saying, “I am living here.”
The kids at Foster are seriously getting jipped this week, and consequently I feel shorted too. Yesterday I had to move from my guesthouse to a rental and the only time for the landlord was during foster time. Tomorrow I have to go to immigration to straighten out some visa confusion (also brought on by June). I am not liking this every-other-day thing because it only confuses the kids. That being said, they have not missed a beat. They are not forgetting or losing momentum, but rather are eager and learning every day.
The oldest kids impress me the most. While I expected them to pick things up faster, I also thought they might get bored with board books. But they are really into their animal sounds, the alphabet and colors, especially matching the colors they’re wearing to the colors in the books. I never imagined that “Blue Hat, Green Hat” (by Sandra Boynton) could have long-term appeal to a six year old. They have gotten into this funny phase of repeating absolutely everything I say. Then I get sassy and start saying thing like, “I want a banana split” or “I’m a crazy little monkey!” just to hear them repeat it. I call them all my monkeys because of the saying: “monkey see, monkey do!” They like repeating that one.
Sometimes I worry if they are really “getting it,” because they copy everything I speak. If I pause to see if they will anticipate the next sound or word and call it out, they go silent too, waiting for me. I suspect they know, but repeating is such a strong habit. Every once in a while someone will “anticipate” and I get excited and point to them and say “yeah!” but then they get embarrassed and giggly, particularly the oldest children. I need to learn to contain my enthusiasm and then maybe they will call out more.
Even the room I was initially struggling in has picked up significantly. I now have three solid reliable participators daily and they are becoming much more attentive for a longer period of time. As always, they relish in their time to hold books. Now my challenge has shifted to the other toddler room, because I have nearly an entirely new group. Five from this room went home with their families, which is exciting and wonderful, but sad for me. I am not used to having to say good-bye to the babies because in Guatemala they weren’t leaving regularly. Needless to say, I am practically starting over in this third room, (1) because there is a new dynamic, (2) because the average age is now younger, and (3) because there are five toddlers who have never been exposed to books, reading, or the concepts that I am introducing. The fact that there are some experienced children is helping; they are really setting the right example, and carrying on like nothing has changed, but after a comfortable month, I forgot about the challenges of the beginning weeks.
Lastly, I just wanted to ask that everyone keeps Guatemala in their thoughts and prayers. I have heard from Casa Bernabe, and they are all safe and well. A testament to that is sending e-mails! But the country, devastated to begin, is in complete ruin. I think about how all those tin shacks, perched on the steep mountain slopes, must be washing away. People with nothing, do not have anything now. That is going to mean a lot for Casa Bernabe, other orphanages and thousands of children as the devastation continues to take its toll. So please, keep them in your thoughts and send them all your positive energy.