One of the greatest things about the world race is that you can never have any kind of expectations...
I am officially a Haitian School Teacher. Definitely didn't see that one coming! :)
So, how did this happen you may ask? Well.. let me just tell you. Initially my team was to spend this month of ministry living in an orphanage and working on a restoration home that is to open sometime during the month of September. However, because of some issues with finding the right location for this home, my team has spent the past two weeks being challenged to use our own gifts and abilities to help out in different ways around the orphanage. For instance, my teammate Emily, who has a degree in occupational therapy, has been spending the working with special needs kids at the orphanage. Another teammate of mine, Alicia, has a degree is social work and has been helping with assessment and paperwork as new kids come to the Home. And I, well... I volunteered to help out at the school, of course!
Initially when I volunteered to do this, I figured that I could do some one on one tutoring, right? Maybe help some kids that were a little behind, or just give the teacher some assistance in the classroom. I was also very much willing to organize supplies, books, just whatever needed to be done to be helpful.
So, I arrive to school Monday morning with the kids, introduce myself to the two teachers, and explain that I have a background in education and want to be able to just help out for the next couple of weeks in whatever way they need me to. The teacher looks at me and says "well, you can teach the class, if you'd like." My first thought went straight to "what in the world have I gotten myself into?" I tried to politely explain that I didn't think I was qualified to teach a variety of subjects to Haitian students, many of which only speak a little English. Again, they insisted that I teach the class... that being educated in America, I was much more qualified than they were to be teaching these kids, and they as teachers, could possibly learn some new things. Again, "what have I gotten myself into?" I finally ask if maybe I could just observe for the first day, seeing as though I had absolutely nothing prepared to teach that day, nor did I have any idea at what level these kids were at, or what they were learning! They agreed, I could observe the first day and start teaching the next.
As I got back to the house that afternoon, thoughts swarmed my head. What can I do to get myself out of this? Sure I have a degree in education, sure I can help teach some English, but I am not in any way qualified to teach these kids all different subjects in a language they don't all understand. Surely I can find something else to do as my ministry this month, right? I'll spend some extra time in the nursery, maybe help out the nannies downstairs. Then God chimed in... "you, my child, are going back to that school tomorrow, you have a ministry there, don't ignore that." Alright, fine, I'll go.
Later that night I spent some time talking with Mrs. Chris (our ministry contact) about the school situation and how I could best be helpful there. She informed me that there were actually about 4 kids in one of the classrooms that, despite the fact that they are 9 & 10 years old, they have never been in school before. There is no such thing as free education in Haiti, and therefore while the kids are required to go to school, many don't simply because of the fact that they can't afford to do so. These kids needed to learn the basics, they needed to be taken back down to preschool level, they needed to start from scratch... now, that I could do!
So, day 2, I pack my busted up plastic grocery bag with books, crayons, scissors, and prizes and I make the hike to school. It's on that day that I officially became a Haitian school teacher. I now have my own classroom, I have four beautiful students ages 9-11(none of which speak a bit of English), and we spend 3 hours every morning learning our ABC's, numbers, colors, and animals. We sing, we color, we cut, we pray... but most of all, we learn. They spend time learning the basics about English while I spend time learning the basics of obeying God's call, of embracing a situation even when it seems overwhelming, of letting go of expectations.
So that, my friends... is how I became a Haitian school teacher, for this month anyway. Pretty sure this one is a must for the resume. :)