A country of beautiful people. A country full of pride. A country overflowing with hope. A country in need of our help. After being here since Saturday, all while enjoying the resort-type lifestyle that seems apropos for the rich and famous and not for pre-service teachers, we ventured out into our first full day in the schools.
I honestly did not know what to expect from the students, the teachers or of myself. There were so many unknowns facing us that day, and each one of us would have to handle it in a way that was unique to our own style.
Upon arriving at my school, Pell River Primary, we were greeted by a field full of beautiful smiling faces that were just as curious about us, as we were about them. The school consisted of approximately 170 students, ranging from grades 1-6, with each grade level occupying their own room. Students shared each desk, with as many as three per seat. There are shortages of school supplies, clothing, sneakers and books. But, there is no shortage of hope. The smiles that are fixed on these little faces made me feel warm and safe. They wanted me to be there with them just as much as I wanted to be there. I felt loved, respected and wanted.
As I listened to these special children talk among themselves and watched how they loved one another, I asked myself a question. Am I really here to teach them a thing or two, or are they teaching me something much more valuable about myself?
I had the pleasure of interacting with all of the children at the school over the course of the day, whether it was in class, during pull-out sessions, or playing on the playground. The feeling of acceptance within the Jamaican culture was amazing. It did not matter if a person is white or black, educated or not, or did not have a meal waiting for them when they got home, they were all “one”. In Jamaica, they have a saying “One Love”, and those children lived by it. I could go on endlessly about the experience that I had during the first day of being with the children, but since it is only a blog, I will stop soon.
SPC extensively prepared us as pre-service teachers to face many challenges over the two year program, and without the background knowledge that the college made available, I feel that I would have never been ready to face this challenge. These children made the experience perfect in every way. The day was long, hot and tiresome, but knowing that I changed a life or two, made the sweat and tears well worth the sacrifice. And you can not put a price on that.