sábado, 10 de septiembre de 2016

Settling in to My New Normal

As of yesterday, I have been in this country for three months. And for anyone who might have doubted me, I'm still going strong! I have now been truly teaching for two weeks, and it is just now hitting me that I'm actually a teacher. Me. A teacher. An actual teacher of my own classes. Who saw that coming? Certainly not me!
Each day's lesson requires a lot of preparation and work (for starters, I have a six page word document of science signs that I have had to learn just for these first two weeks), but the students seem to be truly interested in the subject. They have very little knowledge of natural sciences at this point, but due to the education standards, I'm having to teach them the information appropriate for their grade levels even though they don't have the necessary foundation to build off of. The school has no running water, and when there hasn't been electricity to run the water purifying system, no water to drink at all. There is rarely electricity at the school, so the students and teachers alike endure the blazing temperatures without even fans most of the time. Also, when there is no electricity and it is a dark and rainy afternoon (this happens often), it's very difficult for the students to see their work or even the teacher signing. The school is located between two other buildings with some of the classrooms to the back and a huge door and wall in the front, so there is very little breeze inside the school. All of this makes for extremely difficult, hot, and sweaty conditions for both students and teachers. However, those kids show up to school every day so excited to be there. They love to come to school and they have an unparalleled eagerness to learn. The teachers have such a heart for the students and arrive joyful everyday. Watching the dedication and resilience of the teachers and students at this school has been so inspiring to me. Such joy, strength, and love can only come from the Lord. I am so thankful that I get to be a part of this amazing team of teachers and students who work so hard everyday, despite the difficult conditions, to educate and improve the lives of these students and to enhance the opportunities for future generations of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in this country.
Teaching 7th grade the structure of neurons.
And not only are these students eager to learn, but they're intelligent. I have been teaching 7th grade about plant hormones and tropisms, the human nervous system (each part and function of the central, peripheral, and autonomic systems), and the endocrine system (the different glands and the hormones they produce). Fifth grade has been learning about the solar system and structure of the Earth, and 6th has been learning about cells and cell organelles. It is a lot of difficult information, as they have never been exposed to this stuff before and they can only read and write on a very basic level. But these kids  are surprising me and exceeding my expectations every day. They can achieve so much, and now that their education and opportunities are improving, this group could have a future and quality of life unheard of for the deaf population here as of yet.
Also, I got a paying part time job! Remember how I told you all that I taught an English class for English teachers? The teacher of that class offered to hire me to take over that class. However, I had to turn that down since part of the class is learning about the education system here in the Dominican Republic, which I know nothing about. The teacher then offered me a job as his teaching assistant. He will teach about the system, and I will teach the English. It is just four hours a week, and it will be very nice to have a little money. I am feeling a little intimidated by this undertaking, but after some prayer, I felt that this was the right choice. So here I go on another new adventure!
Please continue to pray for the students and teachers at this school, and also for the Deaf population here as a whole. Also, please join us in praying for the completion of the new school. For the past couple of years, the government has been constructing a new building for this school which will be much nicer, much larger, and have many more resources. It was supposed to be finished last fall, but there is still so much work that needs to be done. Personally, I could use prayers in figuring out how to use my time as wisely as possible. Between working all day, preparing my lessons, learning all the necessary vocabulary in Spanish and ASL, and keeping up with my grad school work, I am struggling to find enough hours in the day. Once again, I am thankful beyond words for all of the love, prayer, and support I have received. God has provided for me in ways I could not even have imagined. Not only have I been blessed financially by many of you, but I have also been so blessed by the family that has taken me in and accepted me as one of their own. Even when I feel overwhelmed by the work load, frustrated by the language barrier, or exhausted from the heat, when I think about how the Lord has rained blessings over my life in these past three months, I really can't feel anything but gratefulness.