Saturday, July 17, 2010

The First Week of La Mariposa

The Mariposa Young Women's Summer Leadership Program has completed its first week.  Our students are learning math, reading, writing, ESL, and health. But at times I wonder if perhaps our teachers are learning even more. On Thursday morning, a student asked me: "¿Jenny, es mejor para ser un estudiante o una profesora?" (Is it better to be a teacher or a student?). This began a conversation about our program. Our students are students, yes. But they are teaching us so much about their language, culture, and lives. We are learning not only a community; we are becoming different versions of ourselves. I remember during my student teaching in Boston, working with a Dominican student who told me: "Ms. Jenny, I heard that if you speak two languages, it's like you are two people." And it's very true. As a Spanish speaker, I am a nicer and funnier version of myself, spunkier and unafraid. I am a shy and quiet person in English, a little bit more reserved; there is nothing I need to prove. Here I use my Spanish to prove that I can hold my own (as Paulina says: Jenny, tú puedes defenderse en español), and I can participate in this different community. All of us are stepping outside of ourselves, reflecting on how to become educated. Yes, we are here as educators, but our students are providing us with a wonderful education on how to participate in their lives as well.

The girls couldn't wait to receive their backpacks and water bottles. 

Becky, a Mariposa year-long volunteer and mentor teacher, fills a jug with water. One of the highlights for the girls is getting all of the free ice-cold water they want! The little things definitely mean a lot to our students.

Nathalia, a student from the International School of Sosua, has created an inventory of our book donations. Poco a poco, we are building a library for the school.

Every girl receives a bowl of fresh fruit for breakfast. Yum!

The fruit goes quite quickly!

Math teachers Maya and Nancy help students measure the perimeter of their desks. Many of the students asked to learn how to use rulers, and they were very excited to work with them!

Our teachers are beautiful, creative, and committed. We are Dominican and American teachers, and we are proud to work in the Escuela Publica Puerto Cabarete.

In addition to practicing Spanish, many of the teachers are also learning Kreyol Haitien  after school hours from our wonderful teacher Loussant, a medical student from La Cienega.

On Thursday, we had our first field trip to the Centro Leon, a modern art and anthropology museum in Santiago. I was the first adult to arrive at the school...a little after 7 am. To my great surprise, several students were already there waiting...INSIDE the guagua (bus)! I learned that several of the girls had woken up and walked to school at 6:30 am...and we don't even start until 8:30. They told me that they wanted to get a good seat.

En route, Jacqueline, a volunteer mother made up a chant for us:

The Mariposas arrived safe and sound at Centro Leon in Santiago. We weren't allowed to take photos inside the exhibit hall! The exhibits focused on the history of the Caribbean as well as modern Dominican art. The highlight for many of the girls was the escalator, which was something completely new for most of them!

Nancy and the girls struck a pose outside the museum store. 

The excitement of the day turned many mariposas into little sleepyheads. It was a much quieter bus ride on the way home. 

On Friday afternoon, Milanda, a Dominican-Haitian nursing student, conducted an interactive presentation on AIDS and HIV. 

Our local volunteer high school students have started an impromptu early childhood literacy program with some of the children of our volunteer mothers.

It was Friday afternoon, last period of the day at the end of a busy week. Things felt calm and tranquil as the students participated in independent reading.

Even the mothers got in on the act! Jacqueline reads El Color de Mis Palabras.

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