Now that's hard work...
07.03.2012 - 07.07.2012 85 °F
Heidi, Jimmy and I had no idea what were getting ourselves into when we decided we wanted to help out at the local preschool for a few hours each day.
The preschool serves about 80 children. There is one large room that has waist high partitions to create three separate “classrooms.” Jimmy is with the 3-year-olds, I have the 4-year-olds and Heidi is taking on the 5-year-olds. I believe that it is the loudest room in the whole world. Maybe the hottest, too.
The morning always starts off with dancing – the moves are a bit elaborate, but we're picking it up. With the four-year-olds, we then move into about 10 minutes of lesson, coloring, possibly a field trip down the street, lunch and playing with blocks. I know I'm not supposed to, but I definitely have a few favorites: Ramon (who is always in trouble), Carlos (who I'm trying to teach to write his name except he always starts it with an “o” and ends it with a backwards “s”) and Ivonne (who looks exactly like a precious moments figurine). Jimmy's favorite is Eduardo, who says everything with extreme conviction and responds “si” when you ask him if he speaks English (he doesn't). Jimmy says that he is planning to kidnap him (I'm pretty sure he's kidding). Heidi is possibly the most advanced volunteer, as she has been asked to both color and teach English.
I'm finding out that education in Nicaragua is a major problem. My Spanish teacher told me that while the enrollment rate for 1st graders is 93% it has dropped to 50% by 5th grade. To make matters worse, it appears that there isn't enough funding in public schools for necessary supplies. One of the teachers mentioned today that they didn't have enough books because they were too expensive (50 Cordobas, the equivalent of about 45 cents). The teachers and aids seem to be trying but lack both training and warmth. Again, witnessing the poverty here is heartbreaking – we're trying to figure out the best way to help.