Día del Niño and Independence Day

I am now into my fourth week as a teacher, which is crazy, because I feel like I have not even touched the actual curriculum yet. Instead, I have been singing endless rounds of children’s songs, reminding my students to “raise a quiet hand”, and teaching the exact same classroom procedures day after day (only to find they have been forgotten come the next morning). Along the way, I have had some laughs, some suppressed tears, some moments of extreme frustration, and a lot of the best hugs ever.

Regarding the lack of actual school related progress… I am trying not to feel too bad, since we have only had one full week of classes so far. The other two weeks were cut short due to Día del Niño, Día de la Independence, and Día del Maestro (Day of the Kid, Independence Day, and Day of the Teacher). Each day was fun in its own way and provided a welcome break from lesson planning!

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Día del Niño: In Honduras, there is a wonderful day called Día del Niño on September 10th, in which children are celebrated and their rights are remembered. I am not sure what this day looks like at other schools, but at Amigos de Jesus, we had a lot of fun. The day began with a coordinated teachers’ dance. It was as comical as you might imagine. Catrachos (what Hondurans refer to themselves as) and Gringos (what Hondurans refer to Americans as) alike, we all dressed up as animals and put our shame aside to entertain the children. What we lacked in skill, we made up for in spirit and the children certainly enjoyed the dance.

For the next few hours, the teachers organized carnival games for the children to play. They were able to use the tickets that they won to go to a little shop that had toys and an alarming amount of candy. I heard more than a few kids (and a teacher or two) complain about a stomach ache later that day. It was a tiring few hours, but again, it was worth it to see how much fun the kids were having. This was especially true of the hogar children, who do not always get the opportunity to just be kids.

Later on, the parents of the children from the community provided us with a delicious lunch of fried chicken, salad, tajadas (plantain chips), and cake. Oh, and of course, liter upon liter of Pepsi. In Honduran culture, turning down food or a drink is a grave offense, so I pretended my Pepsi was Diet Coke and drank every last sip. Just in case the children did not have enough sugar, we then proceeded to do a piñata. All I have to say is watching a few of my crazier students run around with a baseball bat was quite terrifying.

All in all, the day was very fun and I think the children really enjoyed it. For me, the one negative of the day was that the kids from the children’s home had to watch the other kids lovingly interact with their parents. This is nobody’s fault and the parents were very inclusive of all kids, but it was still sad to realize the children from the hogar do not have the same relationships in their lives. Just another reminder that I will need to have extra grace and patience with some of my students.

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Día de la Independencia: The second holiday that we celebrated was Honduran Independence Day. Today it is celebrated with municipal parades. Each city has a parade that celebrates Honduras, its culture, and of course, its Independence. Our school was one of many that got to march in the parade! It was very honoring to be able to participate in something that means so much to the Honduran people.

Many of my students were dressed in traditional Honduran clothing and looked adorable. The day was very eventful and comical in some manners. For one, keeping track of 22 first grade students kind of felt like herding sheep. All of the other grades had two or three people assigned to them… first grade had five. I am very proud to say I did not lose any children! Another funny aspect of the day was that unlike parades in the United States, where bystanders sit and watch participants pass by, here EVERYBODY walks together. This means that in addition to walking with all of our students and staff, we were being followed by a flock of parents who kept trying to give their children water, food, and umbrellas. Very hectic, but also very fun.

My favorite part of the day came after the parade though, when the children from the hogar had a “super recess” for the afternoon. I got to spend quality time some of my students that I haven’t gotten to know yet. As their teacher, I can get so focused on the task at hand that I forget that my students are just six-year olds who want to be loved. Watching one of my more reckless students play with blocks was a great reminder that these children are so vulnerable and impressionable. When they are acting up, it is not always out of spite or hatred, but simply because they are curious and trying to learn about the world around them. That experience was so simple, but I had a “Grinch” moment and truly felt like my heart was growing three sizes. Little by little, these munchkins are changing me for the better.