The second week of October is the last week of school for the children in Chaquijya. It has now been almost four months since I have been teaching the after-school English classes at Cooperativa. As this time has passed I have had the opportunity to get to know each of these kids, what activities and games they like, and how I can best teach them in a way that is fun and productive for all of us. We have established a routine and rhythm so that the students know what to expect, but I also continuously offer a variety of activities so that they don’t get bored. Today marked the end of a cycle we have created over the past few months.
We gave out certificates to the students for taking the class, and we also created special awards for each student in our Intermediate class. Some of the awards included the “Bingo Award,” for Q’anil, who always arrives to class shouting, “Bingo! Bingo! Are we going to play bingo?!” The amount of excitement that bingo brings to his life has been well worth devoting the end of every class to a rousing game of bingo. Another award included “Most energetic,” for Manuel, who always arrives to class covered in sweat from playing soccer, jumping around the room with a huge smile on his face. The energy and enthusiasm these students have is incredible, and although it often drains my own energy as I compete to match theirs, in the end it truly rejuvenates me and leaves me feeling lucky to work with such dedicated children with potential for such a bright future.
I often imagine where some of these kids will be in ten years from now, and I can see many of them working as leaders in the community, doing incredible things. Many of the students in this class will be graduating from primary school and moving to secondary school next year. Technically this means they are no longer going to be our students because while after-school English class is taught, they will be in secondary school. Today I took a poll to see who would be interested in continuing to take an English class if we offered it to them at a different time next school year. Every single student signed the sheet. I hope to find a way to continue working with these students, because the more opportunities they are given which allow them to excel, the bigger an asset they will be to their community. Although it is bittersweet to say goodbye to them for now, I am fulfilled knowing that next year marks a new beginning full of possibilities.