Four times a week, Sam and I teach a beginner's English class - Mondays and Wednesdays to about 15 students at El Salero, and Tuesdays and Thursdays to about 20-25 students at El Farito. There used to be only one beginner's English class, but Sam and I started the new one at El Salero about 7 months ago because some of our teen English students were clearly interested in and capable of an adult English class. Beginner's English has been one of my favorite programs this year, and we have a lot of fun teaching the class. Our students are fantastic (most of the time...:-)) and it's a fun level of English to teach.
Last week, since we had finished our six-ish month curriculum, we gave a placement test to our students. The test was to determine if they had learned enough in beginner's English to move on to our second English level. Out of the 33 students who took the exam, 20 of them received a high enough score to pass! I am so, so proud of our students and how much they have learned - the reality is that when we only have 2 hours of class a week, there's only so much we can do as teachers, and the students have to motivate themselves to study more and learn English. I am particularly excited for our teen English students, because I have no doubt that they will quickly advance through our English levels if they stay motivated and will be able to speak very good English before they graduate from high school. Knowing English is a huge help in getting jobs here in Nicaragua, so it will be a very useful skill for them to have at such a young age.
Every rose has its thorns, though, and this is no exception. The 20 students who passed the exam will be moving up to elementary, and Sam and I are very sad to see them go. It'll be strange not to go to our English classes next week and be greeted by the familiar faces of our students, but we're hoping to have a new batch of students interested and excited about learning English!
After a two-week hiatus, we’re back! Sorry again for the delay in posting—most PDs went out of town last week during the holiday celebrating Central American independence, and we’ve been extra busy since our return! As promised, here are more anecdotes that made us smile this week.
· Watching Agdiel, who is extremely handicapped and generally unable to articulate sentences, answer a question asked in English correctly. –Davis
· A three-year-old Nicaraguan student asking if she may use the restroom in English during our Kids English class at Salero. –Davis
· One of our students, who is thirty years old, sprinting to the board during a game of Pictionary yelling the English answer at the top of her lungs, and telling us multiple times how much she had loved the class. –Davis
· Ariel, who generally struggles at math, confidently explaining to Flor, one of our best students, how to find the area of a circle; which we had just taught him. –Davis
· Watching our women’s exercise class do a zumba workout to Danza Kuduro in the water during our pool workout at the Manna house! –Anna
· This week my kid's English class at Colegio Cristiano La Esperanza in La Chureca was amazing. All of the kids were so motivated and focused on learning a hard concept. To see them eager to learn and willing to try with great attitudes even if it meant getting the answer wrong was awesome. The thing that left me beaming all day though was watching them succeed and the pride that showed all over their faces when they got the answers correct. –Jesse
· "Johnny," Luis Fernando's talking basketball, writing the correct answer to a question on the board in our Salero Kids English class. –Maggie
· Francisco, another student in our Salero Kids English class, telling us that we're his family when we got up at 6 am to watch him participate in his school's parade. –Maggie
· Seeing Douglas, a kid in our Child Sponsorship program, sprinting 50 feet down the street in Chureca because he's so excited to see us. –Maggie
· Seeing lots of my students at Mass today, and meeting the adorable little brother of one of my favorite students, William. –Fiona
· Delicious pizza and good conversation with fellow PDs at a nearby Italian restaurant. –Fiona
· Getting a chance to see the house and small store of one of our child sponsorship families in La Chureca. –Fiona
· Jose Raul, one of my math students, understanding how to simplify fractions! –Fiona
This past weekend, Fiona shared her most recent blog post, titled “Things that made me smile this week.” After reading her post, several of us in the Manna House were inspired to write similar blogs and emails for our friends and family. The idea is a great one, and helps to explain what makes our work so meaningful here in the communities of Cedro Galan, Chiquilistagua, and La Chureca. Together we’ve compiled a list of experiences that made each of us smile this past week. I thought I’d save some for our next blog post, so stay tuned for more smiles to come!
Things that made us smile this week:
· Randomly running into one of our teen English students, Francisco, at the market on my way to catch a bus, and him actually being excited to see us. –Fiona
· An amazing mother helping her three year old daughter to start learning English, by attending class with her and practicing outside of class as well. –Fiona
· Hearing Lesther, a two-year-old in our child sponsorship program in La Chureca, laugh for the first time. –Fiona
· Realizing that FOIL (an acronym we learned in high school algebra) doesn’t translate to Spanish, and deciding to use a sandwich as an analogy for binomial multiplication. While finding the product of binomials, Jose Antonio, my math student, now mutters “Here is the bread, here is the lunch meat…” –Sam
· The incredible drawings that 14-year-old Samuel makes after math and literacy and lets me take home. Samuel has dropped out of school for the semester and suffers from low self-esteem, so it’s great to see him create something he’s proud of. –Sam
· When our previously unruly girls soccer team responds super well to direction, and doesn’t complain about running suicides! –Sam
· Receiving a drawing of myself and Aydel holding hands. Aydel is a mentally handicapped boy in the community who is 16-years-old and I work with him on learning the alphabet and numbers. He can understand most everything when you talk to him but has a very difficult time saying anything. –Carrie
· Watching the women in exercise class dance Zumba to Shakira’s “Waka Waka” and having the 3-year-old children imitate us! –Carrie
· Singing the weather song with my kid’s English class. (“What’s the weather? What’s the weather? What’s the weather like today? Is it sunnyyy, is it rainyyy, is it cloudyyy, out today!”) –Carrie
· Last week, Davis and I walked home with one of my Kids English students, Norlan. We realized that he walks one hour each way just to come to Farito English classes twice a week. We got a chance to meet his mom and I told her what a great student he is. He was so proud and was grinning from ear to ear. I am so thankful for students like Norlan! –Christin
· Watching Ariel from our loan program making cinderblocks using materials he bought with our loan; also meeting his family and getting to know him better. –Matt
· Hearing from Alejandro that the other students in his math class ask him for help with polynomial expressions—the subject we've been working on for the past few weeks. –Matt