March 5, 2015
MOSQUITO BITE COUNT:
Of course a few more were added today. I even have one on the bottom of my left foot. I think I even have one on my bum (I was quite itchy all day and it made for awkward public appearances). I’m convinced that the insect repellant isn’t really working. This stuff is greasy and it stinks. I wonder if people here will remember me by the smell of bug spray? Can you imagine! Maybe I should try a day without it and see if it makes a difference.
Today we had classes with girls only. It was very interesting to see how they just stared and smiled at me without even listening to the teacher. Surprisingly, the girls’ class is hard to manage as well. Unlike the boys who hit each other, the girls pick on one another and call each other names. My Spanish isn’t the best but I’m pretty sure at one point one girl shouted across the room to the other, “your hair is like a dirty dog.” My heart was broken. I would have thought that in such a macho country like this, the girls would have stuck together and encouraged one another.
Break time came around and I felt 20 little hands combing and caressing my hair. A few asked me in Spanish if my hair was real and others whispered to each other, “wow, it’s so soft!” By the time break was over I had 3 braids on one side and 1 on the other side … oh, and an untouched curly piece in the front. It looked very fancy, the latest style, I’m sure ☺ I understand the wonder of these girls though who all have short, thick, and nappy hair. That really is the only thing that unites these girls.
I’m hoping that by the end of this month, I can get these girls to listen to me, respect me, and hopefully learn something. If I can get them to learn a skill, even if small, then they’ll hopefully have a chance towards a better future.
• Getting the girls to understand me and learn respect. I should send my mom over here to set them straight. She was good enough to just give me the look and I knew that when we got home it’d be serious trouble
• Staying hydrated. Seriously, I’m so thirsty!!! I’ve been drinking so much water that I should probably wear some pampers to bed
• Patience. I really need to work on this. I was really strict with the girls today. I need to figure out how I can achieve some sort of order without being overbearing and not allowing the kids to just be kids
• At some point Teresa, the teacher, told me that I had spelled a Spanish word incorrectly on the board. I hadn’t even considered what she was trying to tell me before I quickly replied that I thought she was wrong. The poor teacher then went to get a book and show me the word in print. She was so right and I was very wrong. I don’t think any offence was taken (most likely because she’s such a sweet and understanding lady) but I’m going to tell Teresa tomorrow that I’m sorry.
• We usually have a two hour lunch break. I came home for lunch today and was told that the driver would pick me up at 1:30 to drive me back to the club. I started feeling a little lazy and even considered taking a nap. The clock on my phone and laptop said 12:40 and I figured I would have enough time. I decided to walk out to the front to see if it was raining and I saw the driver there. Wait, what? I didn’t understand how this could be happening. Was the driver there early? I ran to look at the clock in the kitchen and saw that it was already 1:43. Panic mode set in and I apologized to Pincho/Mr Pollo a million times. We’re good now though. I explained that I was on island time and gave him a piece of Lindt chocolate
• Needless to say, I walked in the classroom with chocolate stains all over my skirt and later when I was attempting to help a kid with a bottle of glue, I got it all over my top and it dried almost instantly. I wanted to freak out at first but I had to remind myself to chill out. If I’m going to be working with kids and I come home completely clean then it means that I wasn’t doing my job and making a real connection
THINGS I LEARNED TODAY:
• Pincho means shishkabob. And now we call Juan aka Pincho, Mr Pollo. It sounds funny if you say it with a Spanish accent. Yeah that’s right, practice it in your head. Something like “meeesterrrr poyyo”. Make sure to roll your tongue!
• Girls can be so malicious towards one another … everywhere in the world
• Kids here wear fake braces for style. Can you believe it! They’ll pool money together and have braces applied with crazy glue. Then the next week, another friend will have a go with them.
• In the girls’ classes the darker kids will sit on one side and the lighter skinned kids on the other. Apparently, Haitians are ill regarded here in the Dominican. It’s such a sad state of affairs. A Haitian girl wrote a letter to Martina today explaining that she wouldn’t be coming back to the center anymore. She painfully described how over the past few days, Dominican girls were beating her up and even guys pushing her. They make fun of her all the time. This really breaks my heart. It’s bad enough that Haitian families are extremely poor, but that the people are treated so badly is terrible. This has to stop. I hope that girl comes back. I’d like to spend some one-on-one time with her
WHAT I’M GRATEFUL FOR:
• Billy the bee. This kid makes me laugh.
• Speed walking along the seaside while the sun was out and the wind blowing through my hair
• Fresh coconut water after my walking “workout”. Seriously, that stuff is heaven
• Getting to wash my hair in all of the glory of hot water. You know it’s a good day when I get to wash my hair!
• A private bathroom. It’s like my little sanctuary that I visit often … for praying … not!
Lord, please help me to understand the meaning of patience and to apply it. Help me to be more understanding, more compassionate. Open my eyes to the stuff that’s really going on with these kids. Teach me how I can make strong connections with them in spite of the language barrier.
• Any suggestions on activities I can do with kids around citizenship?