As Ira has already written, we are now in Belize and it has been quite the road trip to get here. Just figured I would add a few of my own thoughts. Before I say anything about our travels though, I just wanted to write about some of the things that have been going on lately with our community outreach at the local elementary school. The girls and I started going to the local school at first because we just wanted to see what it was like and I thought it would be nice for Olivia to be around some more kids. The students at Leadership Center are required to go each Thursday (in two rotating groups) to teach English to the students. Their primary goal right now is to become fluent in English, and what vetter way to learn than to teach it! Plus in this way they can practice sharing their knowledge with more people in the community starting with the children at school. There have been several opportunities for me to help the girls teach, guiding them and providing materials and also for me to teach some lessons in English and just play around with the kids. Olivia has taken a little while warming up to many of the kids at the school because she is a little bit younger and because of the language barrier. For the first time last week she started really playing with a bunch of the girls (other than Jessice, who she plays nicely with when we visit her house and it is more one on one-they have figured ut how to play without needing vocal language!). Anyways, I turn around after changing Sicily and Olivia has a bunch of girls holding hands in a circle dancing around to "ring around the rosy"! After a couple rounds--and they all got the "we all fall down" part really well as they all broke out in giggles as Olivia urged everyone to fall to the ground at that part- the Honduran girls started trying to imitate the words as they danced and Olivia sang the poem over and over. It was a priceless scene. Afterwards, they tried to teach Olivia one of their "playground songs."
I have the opportunity to teach Saturday morning class at the University so last week I talked about the importance of the teaching assignment at the elementary school. I think these girls are a great asset to the local community. I hope they will inspire the local younger students to value their education and look beyond 8th grade. (insert prayer--Please God provide opportunities for the kids who want to continue their educatin, reach for higher goals and help their families to have a better life.) I plan to spend the next several Saturdays preparing lessons with the girls (university students that is) for their Thursday teaching time at the elementary school. Olivia's "homeschool" and craft materials are going to be great idea genertors and supplies for this project, yipee! Bring on the Bingo :)
One other fun thing that has come out of our weekly (often bi-weekly) presence at the school is that several of the little boys have been coming to our house to play and hang out. On days they dont have class (there is no school whenever the teacher can't/decides not to come, at least once a week) and some days after school, the boys make the 1 hour walk to visit us!! We love it, Olivia and the boys take turns riding her little glider bike, playing hide and chase around inside and out of the house (you can easily run straight through the house when both doors are open), and they have even enjoyed doing art projects (we made egg carton caterpillars one day!) and building with the few legos we have. note: if anyone wants to send toys (lego sets, sports balls...what other activities can you think of forboys ags 7-11ish?) that would be great for these sweet little guys.
ok well, that was way longer than I expected and now I must sleep, but hopefully I will have a chance to add some of my thoughts about our roadtrip soon before I forget the craziness ;) I will jut say one thing, it was so awesome to get to spend time with the families and visit the homes and towns of two ofthe students we teach and live with. It really put into perspective for me where these girls are coming from, the committment it takes for their families to allow them to take a break from their responsibilities at home, travel hundreds of miles away (when perhaps they have never before traveled more than two towns over) with people their families do not know in a country that has areas that are not at all safe. The rareity of this opportuniy makes it all the more important for these girls to succeed in their education and in turn to be examples in their communities as good, honest people who can lead and inspire change with wisdom, confidence, and creativity.