Beth has given us some positive and detailed feedback of her time volunteering Mexico, but she has also shared part of a College essay she wrote on her volunteering experience. Thank you Beth for sharing, and for working so hard and proactively in Mexico!
“Finally stepping off the grungy green bus onto the dusty road in front of Mojoneras, I started walking towards the warehouse-like building marked Salvation Army. The blaring sun was hot enough, but as I stepped inside, I was reminded of a greenhouse. Coming from Maine, the hot and humid Mexican weather felt harsh.
I walked through to the kitchen, where I was greeted by Juanita, Rosa, Marí, and Capí. I had already come to the center and been introduced to the women I would work with for the next 6 weeks, but today was the first day I’d actually teach English.
Once the children arrived, I retrieved the notecards I had made with introductory phrases and started by reading and explaining each phrase enthusiastically. But I was met with blank stares, and most of the children left to play. Because the children mainly came to eat, they did not have to participate in my lessons. While I hadn’t anticipated how difficult it would be to engage the children enough that they would choose to participate, I rose to the challenge and started brainstorming different ways to capture their interest.
The following day, I wrote the English and Spanish phrases onto separate cards and asked the children to match them. Several girls happily played, and by the end of the hour, they were already remembering phrases. Yet, I noticed that none of the boys were interested.
For the remainder of the first week, I tried creating different sets of cards: colors, pronouns, and animals. But none interested the boys any more than the original set. So, the following week, I pulled out a blank notecard to keep score, shuffled the vocabulary cards, and asked the children to create two teams. I told them they would earn a point for their team if they correctly translated the phrase I gave them. All of a sudden, the boys wanted to play too. We continued this game, and by the end of the week, the children already remembered most of the phrases.
After I sparked their interest with the competition game, the children actually started requesting to play English games. When I pulled out the matching game again, many of the boys and girls, who had previously been uninterested, happily participated. They even started telling me all the words and phrases they wanted to learn next.”
Beth, USA 2017