We are four days into the new school year. This will be my last year working at my beloved school. In fact, I won’t even be able to finish the school year. Technically I will be done in November and the school year ends right before Christmas in December. With that said, I have thought about sticking around a little bit after my service and potentially seeing the school year to its end. However, the other part of me wants to give the new volunteer their space and let them get to work just like the first volunteer Stephany did with me.
Last year was a mixed bag of productive moments and not so productive ones. Looking back over the entire school year, I am satisfied with the work I was able to get done with my socios. We carried out some really awesome sessions with the students and with the parents. We talked about topics such as nutrition, preventing teenage pregnancy, STIs, style of communication, falling in love, future planning, working in groups, leadership skills, and many more. In addition we held some really important and larger events such as La Hora de Profesionales ( a panel event w/ guest speakers), the Paseo Profesional (a field trip event), and the Concurso de Limpieza ( a community clean-up event with the entire school).
In the new year, there has already been some changes. New teachers, new students and new schedules. With that said, I feel much more comfortable and directed than I did at the beginning of the last year. I’ve already been to work with one of the tutors and with the coordinator of tutoría. In April we should be getting a school psychologist also. I look forward to meeting that person and getting to work quickly to co-plan sessions. I formed a really nice working relationship and friendship with the previous two psychologists and would like to do that again this year.
For this year, I really want to work with the Seniors. I like this age a lot. They are intelligent and blooming young adults who need lots of guidance. I enjoy filling that space for them in a casual, trustworthy and eye-to-eye kind of way. Thing is, the tutor has changed for this class. The current tutor and I have a friendly relationship, but we have not worked much together in the past. He invited me to a couple sessions in his classroom last year but nothing more. Part of me thinks that might be because of the topic he invited me to talk about, that being sexuality & gender, and the perspective I shared with the students, that being one based in sociology and the social construction of both those things. Essentially a perspective that flies in the face of many of the religious interpretations of sexuality & gender that get toted in a country like Peru. Nonetheless I intend to bother this professor until we can work together.
Besides the Seniors, I will also work a lot with freshman/sophomore aged kids. Their tutor is one of my most valuable socios. He is always open to inviting me to class and coordinating with me. Sometimes majority of the workload falls on my shoulders but I still enjoy the access to the classroom that I get by working with him. Last year I worked with these kids a little bit in their first year of colegio (high school). They were great students. Young enough to look up to you and listen, but not too young to not be pushed a little bit in educative environments. Our first class was a big success. They are participative, don’t think they are ‘too kool 4 skool’, and want to learn. Not a single one took out their cellphones during the session. This is essentially unheard of with the older kids.
Besides the day to day tutoría sessions, I also plan to contribute to event planning that will go on. Throughout the school year there is always something going on. Events here and there. Apart from working in the classroom, I am just an extra idea and hand in the event planning process. Sometimes I am the referee, leader of the dinamíca, chair carrier or technology guy. I fill the spaces where I can. La Hora de Profesionales, the Paseo Profesional, and the Concurso de Limpieza will all definitely get done this year also. Depending on timing, these events may be the first few opportunities for the new volunteer to get their feet wet in their new work environment.
I really would like to improve from last year. I would like to have better sessions with the students and better organized events. I would like to have more productive moments than non-productive. I would like to continue fostering the relationships I have with my students and co-workers. The good thing is that all of this is possible! I am already off to a good start. It’s nice to feel like I got momentum and a direction to head in. I am trying to not take it for granted because I know it won’t last forever.