Work…work.. work.. work… work

Written: October 14th, 2016

Well… we made it to the Galapagos island of Isabela where our volunteer organization is located. The town is tiny, everyone knows everyone. We work from 7 (for me)/8 (for Daniel) in the morning to 12 (for Daniel)/1 (for me) in the afternoon. We eat lunch and dinner at local spots that participate in the organizations program….so traditional rice, meat, and juice….for. every. meal.

The first day I went to the school lots of emotions were happening. Even though I’ve been a teacher for the last 5 years, it still was… Terrifying. I thought I knew some Spanish but for some reason when anyone talks to me I can’t seem to say anything in Spanish… or English. Super helpful.

After a 5 minute walk from home I arrive at the school, which is adorable. Every grade has a different white washed circular house with tile floors and open windows. The first class I stepped into was 3rd grade. I didn’t have much time with these kiddos so I said “Hi”, my name and that I was from California (which was a HUGE hit, thank god).

Little did I know that on my first day I would jump right in and lead a lesson but the next thing I know I’m in a 4th grade class teaching a lesson about science ….. in English to Spanish speakers… 2 out of the 3 topics I don’t know a lot about… but after a lot of hand gestures, pictures and a lot of “Profer, que es esto?” Not everyone seemed completely confused. That’s a win in my book.


After lunch I taught a level 3 class, which are 13-15 year olds. Finally, something that’s in my wheel house. Teens. Again, I just thought I would be observing the class since it was my first day and all. However, I should have caught on to how the next 2 weeks were going to go by then because I was wrong and ended up teaching a lesson about global warming to a group of 10 kids. Let’s hope they already knew how to recycle.

The first day was the hardest but the rest of the 2 weeks turned out pretty great. I got better at Spanish, had more confidence in the classroom and speaking and the kids all were extremely welcoming, curious and helpful.

A couple of takeaways from my first international volunteer classroom experience.

  1. It’s way easier to practice Spanish with kids.. mostly because they don’t judge and if they don’t get it … they just keep asking  until you eventually come up with some mix of Spanish and English explanation that they (and you) can understand.
  2. They are super curious about you, so they constantly are trying to speak with you, touch you and help you.
  3. The kids were adorable and hanging on me after a couple days.
  4. Being a teacher is definitely a universal skill and jumping into a classroom is like riding a bike.
  5. Teenagers are teenagers wherever you go.
    Overall, it was a wonderful first taste into teaching internationally and I can’t wait to head off to 6 whole weeks of more teaching and hang time with the kids in Panama!

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