A Day in the Life of Señorita Olivia
Former YLV (2012-14), Olivia Young, shares an intimate and fun and raw view of a day in the life of a year long volunteer.
Alarm #1 goes off at 6:15am. Hit snooze.
Alarm #2 goes off at 6:24am. Hit snooze.
[Insert the persistent, shrill squeak of the swing set as the kids start to enter the Center grounds]
Alarm #3 goes off at 6:33am. Hit snooze.
Alarm #4 goes off at 6:42am. Hit snooze.
[Insert students of all ages yelling & screaming with joy because school hasn’t started yet…and some groans as some unfortunate PE classes take place on the cancha]
The final alarm sounds at 6:51am. Rise and shine!
Step one: Make sure to put on my eye makeup so my students (of all ages, especially my 8th grade boys) don’t ask what’s wrong with me or if I’m ill. Check.
Step two: Put hair into topknot to make myself look taller than more than half of my students (which shouldn’t be too difficult, but I am vertically challenged and all my students know me by my hairdo). Check.
Step three: It’s my dish week – go downstairs and unload/reload the dishwashers. Check.
Step four: Grab a banana and slather it with “the good” peanut butter and an apple for the road. Also, coffee is a must. *If visitors used all the precious coffee, be sure to write a little “reminder” about the said coffee. Check.
Step five: Toss overstuffed pillowcase with dirty clothes over shoulder and head out the door because you’re going to be late! Check.
Step six: Ask Rosa and Martha in the laundry area to only wash (and NOT to dry) your clothes [dryer = fire-breathing monster that shrinks/eats things]. Check.
And with that, the school day has finally begun!
Special Education with Cristofer Paredes
- Date and name exercises
- Read a short story from the giant Disney book to jumpstart our thinking caps
- NACHO time! *the reading guide that teaches students the consonants paired with vowels to create sounds, thus to create words
- ma me mi mo mu
- pa pe pi po pu
- sa se si so su
- and the list goes on…and on and on
- Work on addition with carrying and subtraction with borrowing (which is a definite feat for Cristofer because last year he didn’t know past the number 10 & now he can count to 100 and do some incredible arithmetic!]
- PLAY TIME!
- Which includes but is not limited to: puzzle races (which he is #1), dance parties with Armando, races with our buddies Armando, Martha, Bryan & David, and chalk art
8th Grade Boys English – My “caballeros” (gentlemen)
Now this class was a doozie. I had taught some of the students the previous year, but there were a bunch of new faces to me and although I had requested to teach 8th grade English, I had NO idea what I was in for. I would say for the better half of the year these boys made this class a major struggle. I am not kidding. I started out with 18 students, ranging from 12 to 14 years old and at the end of the year, we were down to 13 gems.
We had our rough stints where I left the class crying due to the pure frustration. But, one day, it all just clicked. My students started participating (even the boys who were “too cool for school”) and there was true excitement in their eyes. I was in awe. The class that was the bane of my existence (due to the raging hormones and attitudes of teenage boys) had now become one of the best parts of my day. My boys, my gentlemen – they are such sweet and genuine souls and I will forever remember each and every one of their smiles.
Almuerzo – lunch time!
This usually consists of any leftovers we had from the dinner the night before or a veggie stir-fry with some fruit (hopefully a ripe, juicy mango!)
- Also, if it’s my dish week, I unload/reload dishwashers
Un descansito – break time
Step one: Talk with my fellow year long volunteers about their mornings and what’s on their agenda for the afternoon. Check.
Step two: Hang up wet laundry on clothesline (which is strung from the closet to the curtain rod & back again) Check.
Step three: Load up my bag with pencils, sharpeners, candy and a few notebooks for my afternoon classes and grab my 25¢ for the bus to LaMa (La Marin – Center #1) Check.
Step four: Go downstairs and greet my sweet: the one and only Maria (who some would call our “cook” but whom I regard as my amazing Ecuadorian grandma) who is beginning to bake the dessert for that night’s meal. Check.
*God, how I miss her cooking. Mac & cheese, pineapple chicken, lasagna, and llapingachos! OH MY!
Step five: Round up the troops who are going to LaMa and hit the road. Check.
After 2 busses and approximately one hour later: LaMa afternoon classes begin!
Art with 2nd – 4th grade
These classes would range from almost the whole class taking a nap – literally, they had fallen asleep and are drooling on the tables – to everyone screaming and running around, throwing paper in the air like confetti. Although these 3 classes tried my patience, the joy these kids had when they finally got interested in one of our projects (mosaics, “Zentangles”, paper chains for Christmas decorations, paper roll figurines, figure and 3D drawings and much, much more!), it was honestly beautiful. Many of the students at the Center have some level of difficulty with creativity because, in many situations, they have had to grow up so quickly and they haven’t had time to really develop this vital skill.
I could ask any one of my students what they earned in a day while selling candies and there would be no hesitation – I mean, they got down to the exact penny. Yet, if I asked them if they could be anything in the world, what would they be? I would get quizzical looks and if I started giving out ideas, then the students would raise their hands and repeat back what I had just said. So, to me, our projects (which were all thanks to the creative mind that is the one and only Miss Irene Costigan) were so much more. These projects were opportunities for my students to really let go and just have fun. And fun we had J
Merienda – dinner time with the families!
Always an experience, to say the least, when joining the families! You get to hang out with (and sometimes chaperone) the kiddos and their brothers…and sisters…and parents…and friends!
*Dip your bread in the soup – I personally guarantee you will get weird looks and “QUÉ ASCO!” from the kiddos.
Adult Education Classes
Amazement: one of the words that comes to mind when I think of my adult students. They have worked all day and then come to class at 6:45pm to continue their education. The knowledge levels range from knowing very little about writing, reading and arithmetic, to not having the certification but can write short essays, read chapter books and are on the way to multiplying fractions and solving complex math problems (thank you, Miss Robin Phillips, a certified Math teacher and our in-house genius).
These students’ commitment to their education is inspiring, and although I am an emotional person to begin with, my heart grows fonder every time I think about one of my students. They worked so hard and, at the end of the class, walked out a little taller than before. *I am not saying this to toot my own horn – I provided the materials, but they provided the will & the drive to learn & for that, they gained a little bit more confidence. Our adult classes were a dedicated hour, four days a week for Nicolas / Carlos / Gloria / Luzmila / Maria Martina (and the list goes on and on) to focus on themselves and learn something new.
When one of your students comes to understand what to do when dividing, or what a word sounds like – it is an awe-inspiring moment. The joy that comes to their eyes is just the best sight to be seen. My adults showed me what it was to give it your all and I am forever grateful to each and every one of them.
Bus ride home with Vicente!
Oh, lovely, patient Vicente – you will always have a warm place in my heart (along with the “seasoned”, exhaust-filled bus)
*And when the bus breaks down, you get to go home in Vicente’s pick up — more than likely sitting in the truck bed, hoping to the Good Lord it does not rain.
Family dinner – 8:40pm
This is the time where your fellow volunteers, the Padre and the Madres reconnect and talk about the day’s events. And of course, you eat the delicious meal created by the outstanding duo – Maria & Antonia! The sound of laughter, and a horror story or two from earlier in the day can be heard echoing in the big dining room.
*Remember: ALWAYS leave room for dessert.
After clearing your plate and loading up the dishwasher, go upstairs and get into some comfy clothes. This is the time where you go hang out in one of your fellow vol’s rooms or all go downstairs into the TV room and have a “Family Movie/Game Night”. The people you will meet at the Center, the other volunteers, will very quickly become your family. They are the people you go to if you are having an awful day, feeling homesick, wanting to laugh, and basically all other things. The Working Boys’ Center is an amazing place and it brings in even more wonderful people.
*Example number one: Padre Juan…and Madre Miguel. They are tied for first.
And then, it begins again.
Step one: Repeat.
A Gallery of Extra Photos and Memories