Improv

We all slept like logs last night and got up and ready just in time to visit some homeroom classes. The teachers were very welcoming and the kids were intrigued by the new “blancs” in town.

After homeroom we had watched the kids sing the national anthem and sat down for a typical breakfast-spaghetti. Yep, spaghetti. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise of the morning: as we were polishing off our plates, Noe came in to let us know what we would be doing that morning: teaching the 3rd grade. No, not observing-teaching. The four of us slowly walked into the classroom full of thirty 12 year olds, collectively trying to pull an English lesson together with the three minutes of prep time and the pieces of chalk we had. Slowly but surely, our teacher juices started flowing and we had the kids talking, singing, and drawing pictures in their notebooks. I am not sure how much English they learned, but I am sure they had a great time.

Little did we know, out improvisation for the day was just beginning. Next up, the head English teacher, Evans, asked us to co-teach his 10th and 11th grade lessons with him. This time we didn’t skip a beat-we came up with some conversations to practice and dove straight in.

After a long morning in intense heat we all needed a rest. We did some relaxing and reading and once the heat broke Evans came back to give us a walking tour of Hinche. Everyone was out in the street enjoying the cool air. Hinche is most definitely a tight knit community-we met a handful of Evans’s cousins and about a dozen of his friends on the first lap around the block. The problems in Hinche are visible: dirty streets, dilapidated houses, and starving dogs, but the strength of community spirit and togetherness was also plain to see.

I was struck particularly by Evans intense appreciation for what he has been able to achieve through English. He is one of twelve siblings who decided to move out of his home and rent a small room to relieve some burden on his family. When speaking about his potential opportunity to go to the United States and live there, he told us ever so earnestly that for him that just didn’t make any sense. He told us that despite the poverty in his country he is grateful for the work and projects he has in motion. He made us understand that trading in the freedom and opportunity English has given him in Haiti, albeit small in some people’s eyes,  for a life of less freedom and more commodity was a sacrifice he was not willing to make.

Tonight’s background music was a bit more upbeat than last nights: the high school kids are having a dance party in the patio of the school to relax and decompress before final exams start next week. The heat is oppressive and the wind is more scarce, but we are more settled in tonight, more used to our mosquito net canopies and cold showers. We are all sure this won’t be an easy two weeks, but its seeming we are up to the challenge.

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