Friday, September 27, 2013

First Blog Post YAY!!

We've been here for exactly one month and 11 days today and we've loved every single second of it. As of right now we feel like we've finally gotten into the swing of things at the Hogar del Nino, our new home, La Romana, and the Dominican Republic. It has been pretty interesting to say the least. Days of coming into the school and having the children scream at us "VISITA, VISITA!" (visitors) are long gone as now they realize we're here to stay and either call us by our names, or the younger children call us "Tio" o "Tia" which means Uncle or Aunt. The Hogar is an incredibly special place with many different parts, however we're not involved in all of them. There is the 'Sala Cuna' or 'Crib Room' which is essentially a day care for babies from as young as 2 months old to almost 2 years old and Nina and I spend some time there, but more just whenever we have a free few minutes and need some adorable baby time.
Next there is the 'Nivel Inicial' which translates into 'Initial Level'. This houses the children from ages 2-6. Here there are four different sections: Nidos (ages 2-3), Maternal (ages 3-4), Kinder (ages 4-5) and Pre-Premario (ages 5-6). Within each of these sections there are three different classes, all having anywhere between 25-45 children. Monday-Thursdays mornings from around 8am-10:30, the three of us teach English to the 'Nivel Inicial'. Nina teaches the children in Maternal, I teach the children in Kinder and Ramses the children in Pre-Premario. Our class times can range anywhere from 15 to 45 mins and are on a sort of rotating schedule. So far we've all been teaching the kids lots of songs, as well as some of the numbers, some shapes and a few vowels. I think the best part is when parents approach us to tell us that their children come home saying my English teacher Carola or Nina or Ramses, teaches me a lot in English and they proceed to sing a song or count the numbers to show their parents how much they know.
Next there is the Upper School which has grades 1-12. However, the Upper School isn't run how we think when we think traditional 8am-3pm.. Instead, there are two sections of each elementary school grade, one runs in the morning and one in the afternoon, and high school runs in the morning while middle school in the afternoon. Currently there is major construction happening with this school in order to make a larger building so that the school hours could be more like a traditional schools which would then allow for more after school activities.Nina and I both teach elementary school English, but only in the afternoons. I teach 1st and 3rd grade and Nina 2nd and 4th grade. It definitely wasn't easy at first. Neither Nina or I studied education, therefore all of this was very new to us. In addition to these obstacles, others come when working with children who come off the streets, or come from lower income families or come from a poorer city  like La Romana. However, what we've found is that these children just need some love, attention, a little discipline and just to be reminded that they are important, because at the end of the day we love every single one of them and they are really wonderful children.
Currently the equivalent to an after school program is called the "Zona Verde", the Green Zone and it has it's own very special building. The main idea of the Zona Verde is to keep the kids off the streets when they're not in school and focuses a lot on art and music as well has what would be equivalent to an U.S. study hall. Ramses spends a lot of time here, teaching two art classes a week in the afternoons. Nina and I are also spending some time here working with some of the kids on a special project we'll explain in a few months.
All in all as much as our days our long, and we wake up early, I can confidently say we wouldn't want it any other way. These children our inspiring and never ever cease to amaze us. We're the lucky ones for getting the opportunity to work with them.
Although this blog post makes it seem like our lives are completely encompassed by our work at the Hogar, I promise we're having fun too! More on our lives and our new home in posts to come.