Teaching summer school, known as Vacaciones Útiles, is my favorite project that I have tackled, so far. In site, I am definitely most happy when I am working, and vacaciones útiles filled my February with 98 kids with amazingly unique personalities from all over the province of Asunción, Ancash. That means I got 98+ hugs a day for a whole month. How amazing is that?!
Each day of the week, I taught four classes of English mixed with Financial Education. The classes were split up by age group. My first period was kids 9-10 years old, second period was kids 5-6 years old, third period was kids 7-8 years old, and fourth period was kids 11-12 years old. But let me tell you about my first day, y’all. I was a little nervous and unsure how many students would show up and how they would take to their new professor teaching them a new language. My first class went great. I immediately identified the kids that would spend my whole class cracking jokes and talking and the kids that would sweetly pay attention and be the first to yell out the answers (raising hands, I learned, is not a thing).
Second period is when things went nuts. I started introducing myself to my new group of students and we started with a dynamíca or ice breaker to get to know each other. I noticed one small boy was standing by my door and looked really uncomfortable. I started walking over to him to investigate the problem and he reached his little arm up to the door handle to make his escape. I put my hand on his shoulder and quickly learned that this little boy did NOT want to be touched by me. He busted the door open and started sprinting. The next thing I know, 30 five and six year olds were chasing after the boy, named Franchi. The herd of children sprinted out into the streets of Chacas and I ran as fast as I could after them. The other professors poked their heads out of their classrooms and just watched as the new professor had quite obviously lost all control of her class.
As I was chasing all of the kids down the street, a woman yelled at me, “It’s dangerous to have all of these kids running through the street!” I thought, “No shit, really?” but just kept sprinting. This may be an indication of how out of shape I must be, but these kids were FAST. Especially Franchi. Eventually I caught up with him and I wrapped my arms around his little body. He sunk his feet into the dirt ground, looked in my eyes, and spit in my face.
With saliva dripping from my cheek, I dragged the kid back to the school with his feet kicking my legs and his nails dug into my skin the entire time. All of the kids followed to witness the action and some brave souls tried their best to rescue me.
When I got Franchi back into the school, I held him down as he was kicking and punching and I yelled for help from a passing woman. She told me she knew his mother and would take him home. Franchi walked home that day and I turned around, walked into my classroom, and kept going like nothing had happened.
I still have no idea what happened with Franchi that day and it’s truly a miracle that Peace Corps did not get a call that the new gringa was dragging a 5 year old down the streets of Chacas, but for the rest of the month, Franchi showed up and hugged me when he walked through my door and participated in my class with enthusiasm.
I had so many amazing stories from teaching this class that I could probably write forever. But, for the sake of keeping readers, I will just say that I learned so much from the patience and friendship that I experienced with my classes. There were times of real frustration but I learned a lot as an “educator” and about the dynamic/challenges of education in my community. This experience has motivated me to continue to work with elementary school students throughout my service in Perú!
Here are some of my favorite classroom photos from summer school: