The placements that I attended today were Laura Alva and Cristo Rey. We attended Laura Alva in the morning and Cristo Rey in the afternoon. Laura Alva is a school for children with all sorts of disabilities and Cristo Rey is a private school in Chorrillos. At Laura Alva we were divided into groups of two and in these pairs we were assigned to a classroom where we would act as assistants to the teacher. At Cristo Rey we ran an after school English program. The program is designed to improve all levels of English abilities through basic English lessons, playing English games and providing an opportunity for students to engage in conversations in English.
Many of the participants who attended Laura Alva had little to no experience working with children who have disabilities. This made it even more exciting when all the participants who went today reported that they had a great time. Reaghan Niell said that the “experience helped me to have more confidence in my abilities to work with children who have disabilities. I have previously worked with adults [who have disabilities] but it was great learning more about working with children who have disabilities. I had a great time!” The kids at Laura Alva had a strong impact on Sarah Szabo who had never previously worked with children with special needs. Sarah said that, “It was my favourite day so far and I loved how happy the kids were. I am hoping to return to Laura Alva for tomorrow’s placement.”
A couple participants had strong connections with a student from Laura Alva. Meghan Domenico connected with a student from Laura Alva who was not even in her assigned class. His name was Frank and he was around 10 years old. He had been very quiet and reserved during the entire day but when he saw Meghan he lit up and began to climb all over her and sat with her. It was great to see that without even speaking two people from very different places could connect in such a way. Another profound connection was between Chris Todd and Juan Carlos, a student from Laura Alva. Chris had no previous experience working with people who have disabilities but he decided to take this opportunity to gain some and he ended up making a connection with Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos is a very shy kid who usually does not speak to people but he was drawn to Chris and Chris likewise. They began trying to work on Juan Carlos English because he expressed an interest in learning some phrases. Chris has thus far been able to teach him “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “How are you” and “My name is.” It seems that Chris has been enlightened by his experience working with children from Laura Alva. He shared that “the simplest things can change someone’s day” and that it all “starts with a smile.” Chris said that in his experience “You either sit their awkwardly or jump right in. Speaking English [to the students of Laura Alva] they can catch your tone and they feel more comfortable.”
This afternoon at Cristo Rey, we were once again divided into groups of two to teach the students who have varying levels of English ability. It was a challenging placement for many of the participants who had to think on their feet of ways to engage all the students but still have a fun and educational class. Meghan Domenico shared that “It was a very rewarding placement because although we struggled to create a lesson and explain it to the students we were still able to see a small improvement by the end of our two hour session with them. It was amazing to see how appreciative they were of us. Even if they didn’t understand what was going on they still tried very hard to try and understand.”
It was another very successful day of placements that presented many challenges to participants but also many successes and unforgettable experiences. Several learning opportunities have taken place and we all continue to grow and change to become more aware and diverse. This evening the participants heard a speech from Ricardo, a teacher at Cristo Rey. He has been involved with SIA since 2011 and continues to be a great asset. Ricardo spoke about the importance of each one of us, in each of our careers, to truly do everything with love. Ricardo is an inspiration to all of us. He has left each of us with something to think about.
Tomorrow will be the third day of placements and I am sure it will bring many more new and exciting experiences for participants.
“Whatever you do in life, do it well and do it with love.”
Hazlo con Amor (Do it with love)