Over the last few months I have pondered about what I can do to make a difference while we are here in Mexico! (Having all the kids in school for half the day makes me feel that I need to do more in my day now!)
English Classes: I was reading in "Preach My Gospel" and in the section regarding learning your language it stated that all people, if given the opportunity should learn English. I then realized that I could teach English while I was here... so, for the last month I have been pulling together the curriculum, making handouts for the public, scheduling the missionaries to attend as translators, working with our ward and preparing to teach these classes.
This last week was our first class and we had four Spanish speakers - we were communicating back and forth about everything from English verbs to how to speak about hydraulic systems and marketing! We had a great time and the two hours flew by! The students all took handouts and were excited to share this free service with friends and family. (So the next class promises to be larger!)
I had a warm, tingly experience after class...a young man approached me and asked why I would do this for the people. I shared my testimony of service and that we are all here to help one another; I could tell that he was grateful for the opportunity to learn; for him it will open doors otherwise closed in the business world. I hope for those who come to the classes that their lives will be better because they are able to communicate with more of our Father in Heaven's children.
As I was preparing these classes I expressed my surprise to a friend that of all the languages in the world the church would request that as many people as possible learn English; the sister to whom I expressed this thought stated, "Andrea, English is the language of the Restoration."
I had not considered English in that manner until she made the comment. I have not before realized HOW GRATEFUL I AM TO SPEAK ENGLISH! In all the world, no matter which country I have traveled into I have always been able to communicate and I have not realized what a blessing that has been in my life! In fact, I have never considered not being able to communicate - granted, I have worked HARD here to learn and communicate in the Spanish language but it was never a worry for me.
But of course, talking has never really been a problem...
Parent In-School Volunteer Program: The second endeavor that I have undertaken to begin here is a Parent Volunteer Program in my children's school during school hours. In the U.S.A. I would volunteer weekly in the children's schools - but here when we visited all the schools and I asked about the volunteer programs they looked at me as though they didn't understand English (which they all did). They do not have parent volunteers in school here although they do have groups similar to the PTA - and they weren't quite sure what to do with me. So, I began working with the principal of the Pre-School and Elementary levels and I have begun working in the classrooms (I have been working in our children's classrooms which is COMPLETELY UNHEARD of here because the administration believed that with a mother in the classroom that children will not listen to the teacher - so they have been assessing my children's reactions while I am in the classroom as well). I have also been providing the school with example handbooks of instructions for volunteers, badges, sign-in sheets, etc. This year the program will be by invitation only and will serve as a pilot program. We hope everything will succeed and that parents will be excited about being more involved in the lives of their children in the schoolroom!