Today was our second day at the school in the village of Billy White. The goal of yesterday rang true today (love the students and be a light for Christ), but today we added on the new task of building a library. For those of you that might not be aware, the school we have partnered with lacks many of the resources you would think essential in educating students. Most of the classrooms have no electricity, there is no developed curriculum, few manipulatives, even fewer books, and hardly any room to grow. Even with the lack of these “basic” tools, this school is one of the most amazing displays of the educational system I have ever seen. Teachers here care. They care so much that they do not let the lack of resources prevent them from providing a quality education. They are so inventive and wise in how they create and use what little they do have to form lessons. It is a striking difference to the experience I have been privileged with while student teaching this semester. Even my smallest resource of classroom books would truly change the lives for these students. The resources I complain about not having enough of, this school does not even know to dream of.
Today we also started to work on organizing and building shelves in the library as just a small way to show our appreciation for these people. As we were sorting through the books that the school had, I came across the familiar title of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. This story is one out of an abundance of titles that I selected to read to my kids while student teaching: A classic tale of a man that acquires a peculiar pet that unites his family during a rough season of life. I instantly chuckled at the irony of finding this book among the Belizean culture. The more I thought of it though, the more meaningful this one title became. My students in Missouri might love this book, but they will never ever appreciate it like these kids do. To this culture, this book (or any book) symbolizes hope. Instead of using this story to teach reading comprehension, teachers here will use this book to help impart knowledge. Knowledge that is necessary to bring these students out of their current situations and give them a fighting chance at finding a better life. A simple story that I have taken for granted so many times before will allow these students the opportunity of a future story. A story where they are not limited or confined by their inability to be something more.
We have only been here at the school for two days now, but already I am leaving pieces of my heart.