This year at CBS is off to a great start! I’m Amanda and I am this year’s Kinder teacher (4-year olds) and Volunteer Coordinator. This is my second year at CBS and I am so excited for all that we will accomplish this year. We have an outstanding group of volunteer teachers this year (three of which are also second year teachers at CBS) and I am so proud of all of the preparation and dedication they have demonstrated so far.
Many volunteers who come to teach at CBS have never taught before, and it is always astounding to see the enthusiasm with which they jump in and start doing their best to educate their new students. This year’s team took it a step further by participating in multiple trainings, soliciting advice from teachers they know back home, and putting a ton of time and effort into lesson plans and visual/teaching aids for their class before school even started. Based on this group of volunteers and their dedication, and how much the kids have already learned in the first 7 weeks of school, I believe it will be a very productive year!
The first few days of school were spent getting acquainted with our students, reviewing, and guaging our class’s English level. It is hard to believe we are coming up on exam week for the first bimester. We have participated in a lot of school events so far, my favorite being the desfile de antorchas (“Torch Parade”). The desfile de antorchas is a beautiful event in which many schools in Cofradía march through the town of Cofradía with candlelit torches. It starts just before sunset, and each school arranges its students by age and height, with the smallest children in front. The parade includes a marching band that provides a charming soundtrack to our stroll through the streets. As night falls, the torch that each student holds provides a soft, peaceful light as the parade snakes through Cofradía. The parade is certainly beautiful, but it is also my favorite event because of the feeling of community it elicits. Parents keep pace with us and hand their children water or Gatorade to keep them hydrated. Onlookers line the streets with smiles, and a large crowd of families and an announcer await our arrival at the town park, where the parade ends. Afterwards, students and families want pictures with us, there are ice cream cones and snow cones for sale, and everyone just seems happy to be out in the open air together. While Cofradía is safer than many other small Honduran towns, the dangers that plague most of Honduras are still present, and one should proceed with caution when walking the streets at night. But not on the night of the desfile de antorchas . On this night Cofradía feels like the happiest, most peaceful place you could imagine.
Another celebration we took part in was Día del niño (Children’s Day). This holiday is not celebrated in the U.S. and I was a little puzzled by the concept during my first year here. It is like Mother’s or Father’s Day, but with a lot more sugar and piñatas. Día del niño is about honoring children, which is done by serving them large quantities of cake, soda, and candy. Once they are properly sugared, games and prizes ensue. The favorite event for the children, and the most frightening for us teachers, is the piñata. The kids whack the daylight out of the piñata and charge at the first sign of candy, while we desperately try to hold back the crowd to keep them from getting belted by the child currently swinging the big wooden stick. But the kids enjoy themselves and school gets dismissed early, so we soldier on through the chaos of the morning. Never has a school day felt so long or exhausting. Especially one that only lasts until 11:20 am. Last Friday our school soccer team had their first game of the year! They played against the top team in Cofradía and tied 3-3! Some of our dedicated volunteer teachers went to support our boys and said they played impressively. It is really great for these older boys to have a constructive afterschool activity that gets them more involved in our school by letting them do something they love: playing soccer! I can’t wait to do see the next game! This past Monday we began what will be a yearlong school event: House color competitions! We divide all of the students from first through ninth grade into “teams” or houses (like in Harry Potter). Each house has it’s own color and several teachers assigned as the house leaders (Volunteer and Honduran teachers). Throughout the year, students can earn points toward their house for various achievements. There are daily and weekly points awarded for good behavior, work ethic, etc. but we also do school-wide events like Olympics and Academic Olympics. The winning team gets a lot of points toward their overall total. The house with the most points at the end of the year gets to go on a school-funded trip. Last year it was a water park in San Pedro Sula. This year I am thinking the beach…we’ll see! We will be posting updates on life in Cofradía and at CBS each week, so stay tuned! Comments and Shares are welcomed. Thanks for reading!