Day Two Reflection by BJ Long: Kindling Passion

This morning was a little rough getting up. Just a little stiff from the first day. But when I woke up, I woke up to a very hot and delicious warm banana smoothie. It was amazing. Today we spent a lot of the day at the school. I loved every bit of it. When the bus was backing up into the school all the bichitos (the small children) were shouting happily, “It’s the Gringos!” with big smiles. They were so excited to see us and I would understand why later. In the first five minutes, we were welcomed into their school community with a few words from the principal and all the kids greeted us.

Let me backtrack really quickly. Before the trip we were told we were bringing some books and school supplies and had spent a whole day sorting books and school supplies to pack away. Then when we made it to the school, we saw exactly what each and every student got as we passed out each supply individually. That alone left a punch with me when I passed all the supplies out. Then after a few rounds of passing out pencils in the hot humid air, I took a moment to rest with some water and Gatorade. This was a moment when the little kiddos decided, “Hey let’s ask the gringo some English words.” And they asked me, “Como se dice…” (or “how do you say…”) and made a whole list of words. Just a few I remember were zapatos, los dedos, and hola. Or they were just asking for random words. And I told them how to say shoes, fingers, and hello. And most other words that I knew both the Spanish and English to. Evelyn, our translator, luckily came over at this time and was able to help translate some of the words I didn’t know. My time to shine!

Anna volun-told me I was creating the English activity for the first year high school students. Evelyn and I were very nervous for this as we didn’t know what the students knew. She asked them a few quick questions and then we quickly thought on our feet and we came up with a great couple of activities to do with the students. We first played that favorite childhood game of telephone. The first few times were met with very funny responses. The first we tried I used the sentence, “The tree is green,” and when all was said and done, the students twisted it to something along the lines of, “It’s something English.” Evelyn was flustered at the mistakes and asked them for the meaning of my sentence “The tree is green” and they all responded with, “El árbol es verde,” which the students then understood and tried on the next few rounds. After that game we learned that they were very good with colors so we played a new game where the students would take turns shouting out colors and each color they would say they were able to take a giant leap.

We had lunch in the nice air-conditioned computer room where we were lucky to have one of the oldest students that our group sponsors and have her talk to us about her story and what she wanted to do after her education ended. Then we were greeted by the afternoon classes, and it was quite a repeat of the first half of the day, but with more sweat, more drinking water, and quite a few kids sitting on my lap asking me how to say more words in English.

Finally, it was time to play soccer. And anyone who knows me well knows I am horrible at soccer, so I chose to not partake. Instead, I was cheering on my friends as they were danced around by the amazing skills of the kids. I had a group of little girls come up to my bench, sit down, and start talking to me in very fast Spanish. They then looked at me, laughed, and we had a nice conversation where I practiced my abysmal Spanish, which they giggled at while they also practiced what little English they knew and we both laughed.

Sadly, we had to go as it was getting dark and it was time to turn in and go back to our families and go to sleep. On the way back to the families we stopped by the church just so we could see our sister parish from Grand Junction. (That way Hunter could be happy with us.) Finally, we were returned to our families.

Might I say dinner was delicious. My family cooked dinner with Andrea, Grace, and Natalia’s family and we had some delicious tamales, and I cried. That food was delicious, and just well made, and just, UGH—the flavor can’t begin to be described as it is just fantastic.

After dinner we played cards – both the card game “Spot It” and Crazy Eights, which everyone had a good laugh at. Poor Grace was made fun of for a while, though, because of the night before and her run-in with a very scary goose who stopped her walk to the shower. It was quite a traumatizing event, which everyone would continue to get a good laugh at.

Finally, it was time to go to sleep. I walked with Evelyn back to our house and got packed for the next day and was going to bed. I saw a teddy bear in the bed next to me and I asked the brother whose room I was sleeping in, and how do you say that. And so my Spanish word of the day, which I really remember and that stuck with me, is oso, or bear.

I am writing this journal at 7:30 pm on 3/15, a day after having done all this. I am writing about a community which our leader, Anna Stout, takes care of as if they are children. This has an effect on me, more so than I can put into words sometimes. She takes more care of her children in El Salvador than most parents I see taking care of their only spoiled brat back in America. This woman has found her true love in taking care of all of those students her group sponsors, and this has moved me. It challenges me to question what exactly I am doing. It challenges me, and all that I have been raised with. I am writing right meow, (inside joke with me and Anna of running cat puns) and I am watching her talking to one of her best friends from El Salvador and how much passion and love and attention she gives each individual. I cannot stress enough exactly how much Anna cares about her community. She calls them her hijos, or children. When we visited the families and we could hear their stories, we visited a boy who just months before had lost his mother. Anna stayed back with him as our group got ready to move to the next family, but we heard some sobbing from the house and saw Anna hugging both the boy and his grandmother as they all cried together. The reason was, when Anna came back to the group, she told us that he did lose his mother, and that she called him exactly what I said, or her son. And that the grandmother responded with, “That’s all he wants is a mother.” And that alone broke him, and in turn seeing her son cry made Anna cry. I hope and dream I find something I am that passionate about. Anna has really kindled a fire in me I hope won’t go away and I hope to find something that will fuel it.

I’m writing about my reflections of the day and what I felt. On top of that, I am also writing about exactly what I am feeling and how much emotion is felt throughout the trip in and out of the community. That is exactly what I am feeling: love and hope. This community is beautiful and I am enjoying the trip very much. As a group I love every bit and am very glad we are such a small delegation because we are able to stay so close, and have many inside jokes. Including the running tally of all of Anna’s quotes that we are constantly turning into hash-tags. #AnnaQuotes #AnnahatesKids #OkAnnaLiedaboutHatingKids #AnnalovesElSalvador #AnnaisgonnabeatBJ #BJisdundo #losgorditos #Findyourpassion #Youdon’tneedschool #Meh #LoadupGringos

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