“Do something good, something kind, but don’t tell anyone about it.” My Abuelito, Gentleman Bill Fellows, excelled at this. I believe everyone wants to help, in the best way they know how. I also believe more people would give back, if they had the means for doing so. Writing about my experience volunteering with KinderAide goes against what I have been taught – to do something good, something kind, without telling anyone about it, but it is my hope in doing so to inspire more people to do the same.
I first started volunteering with a Mexican friend of mine at Juan Escuita School in La Peñita, back in 2007. As a teacher back home in British Columbia, she quickly realized I could ‘make do’ teaching the class on my own, with my rusty Spanish, along with charades. She would often flit off to photocopy, plan, and mark, and before I knew it, I was left alone in a classroom with students ranging from five to twelve years old. It wasn’t long after that everywhere I went – the beach, the grocery store – little kids would yell at me excitedly, with huge grins, “Maestra! Maestra!” I hadn’t given them anything – no toys, candy, nothing but my time. I believe teaching is one of the most gratifying professions in the world, and there is nowhere else that I’ve taught (Canada, Egypt and Thailand to name a few), where teachers are more appreciated and respected. Parents and Grandparents would approach me, thanking me for teaching their children. That sort of sincere gratitude made my heart swell.
Fast forward a few years… My mom, Jane Fellows, asked me to come along to speak with one of the teachers about volunteering at a school, and needed my ‘translating’ skills (haha). This was my first time visiting Luis Pasteur Kinder School, and I was taken aback at how little this school had in comparison to the previous school I had volunteered at. I had NO idea schools in La Peñita were operating without flushing toilets, running water, or even any sort of level playing area. Before long, I was ‘assisting’ my mom singing ‘head and shoulders, knees and toes,’ to some very happy kids, and I was hooked. How great to bridge the gap between ‘gringos’ and the Mexican people – how great to help children simply by giving your time – something the majority of us have a lot of, here in paradise. Even if your Spanish skills consist of the words, “hola” and “cerveza”, you too can help volunteer. And, the bonus is, your Spanish will improve! Most importantly though, there is also a feeling of being part of a community, the knowing that you are making a small difference, in your own way, by giving back, and by doing something good.
Written by Annilee Guy
About KinderAide: KinderAide was established in January of 2011 by Jane Fellows. It is an independent, non-profit group of volunteers whose primary goal is to help children attending kinder schools in La Peñita in their quest to learn English, with the assistance of volunteer teachers and donated school supplies. To learn more, visit the KinderAide community webpage.
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