The First Week of Classes: Pura Nica style

Published: February 18th 2008
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The new volunteers for NPH 2008 arrived in early January with a grand welcome from Casa Santiago, Nica style. Although we came during vacations, there were many preparations being made for the beginning of the school year, which marks the start of many of the therapies and teaching the volunteers partake in. As the month passed by, the festivities of the first week finally arrived, pure Nica style.

February 4 was that special day, the day many kids were anxiously waiting for. Others were sad that it marked the end of vacations. Their limitless free time playing with cards and bikes and going to the many beaches nearby was over. For the kids from Casa Asis, the baby house in San Jorge, the year was very special, for they would be experiencing a new school and starting their formal education that would set their educational futures. From the volunteer perspective, many made travel arrangements to be back for the special day. All went to bed early the night before, after a long week of preparations for their classes. This was it…the week we were waiting for.

The alarm was set for 5am. We knew it would be the big day, where we would be presenting ourselves to the kids as professional therapists and teachers. The walk to school was long yet beautiful, as every step offered a view of Volcano Concepcion. The kids were presented very professionally in their navy blue and white school uniforms. Some had new backpacks as well. The swarm of blue and white kids along the dirt road was a sight to remember, all 200 of them.

The schoolyard was busy with kids running around. I believe all were excited for the year or perhaps nervous. Soon, a procession was called for and the kids separated in lines by house. For example, the little girls were all in a line as well as the older boys. Even their uncles and aunties, referred to tios and tias, accompanied them for moral support on their big day. The principal entertained us with a beautiful poem that marked the beginning of the year. The volunteers also presented themselves to the kids, as official therapists and teachers. After some orientation in the classrooms for the kids, a mass was to be attended. The rest of the day was to be free, a nice gift for the first day. I had planned material for the first day and was sad I didn’t get to use it, but was welcomed by the open schedule. In fact, I did not know what was really going on, which is most of the time, but I have been learning to go with the flow. The flow of kids led us to the church for mass.

The swarm of blue and white followed the dirt path to Iglesia San Jose. As we entered, the church shined bright with the white tile and stained glass windows. I felt that the construction and feeling of the church allowed the participants to experience real spirituality, at least for me. We were worshipping God for the great day He has provided and praying for His guidance in the coming school year. We took up almost all the seats. The altar boys as well as the choir were volunteer pequenos who committed themselves to such acts of service in their church. The day at mass was a good wrap for such a joyous day. We were participating in the spiritual guidance of the children, something founder Father Wasson believed strongly in.

For such a great first day at school and ending it with mass, our hearts were prepared for Ash Wednesday. Such excitement for one week! The third day of classes, also Ash Wednesday, provided another opportunity for huge growth. As the year brought many goals and wishes for the ten hard months in the classroom, Ash Wednesday signified the start of a 40 day preparation, leading up to Easter. For me, this mass was very special. It is a tradition to go to Ash Wednesday service with my family every year, this being the first I would be away. To experience it with the kids was exactly what I needed. As the kids lined up to receive their ash crosses, I basked in the significance of Christ dying on the cross, hence making a sacrifice and an opportunity for His followers to become Christians after His earthly passing. This symbol signified exactly that. The pequenos were taking that step of faith, being identified as Christians. Eduarda, a pequena I teach private English lessons to, said that the cross personally meant her identity as a Christian woman and as a sister to her fellow pequenos. She has decided to prepare herself spiritually by reading the Bible more, as reading is one of her favorite past times.

As English teacher, the rest of the week was very tranquil, although confusing. I would be receiving a new schedule, as the kids were still being placed into their correct classes and levels. I look forward to the coming weeks of stability. At the close of such excitement, Eduarda shared with me that she met a new friend and really likes her guide, or leader of her section, in school. She is forming trust with him and sharing that trust with her new friend. This week, seeds were being planted, just as they have been planted from the start of NPH Nicaragua. I pray that the seeds grow into abundance as the year progresses. In fact, what if these seeds shall multiply past the year?


23rd February 2008

I can really picture this
Hi Michellita; I love the way you write. I have read several of your entries and can visualize every one, especially this last one. I can picture the kids, on their way to school, wearing their uniforms and with parents and relatives along with them. You should really think about doing creative writing or putting a book together about your experiences. It is so great that God is working through you to teach these young minds. You remarked; "...what if these seeds shall multiply past the year?" My response would be; they have already been planted and soon will begin to sprout. Perhaps not all of them, but even if it's just a few, God will surely be pleased. Take care, Michellita and God Bless! Steve C.

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