One of the things that you miss when you aren’t in a classroom setting anymore is seeing your students on a regular basis. Although we get to visit many schools here in Rwanda, I have been missing the relationships that are formed when you are consistently with the same group of kids. Recognizing this, I decided to volunteer as a tutor at a school close to our home. Kigali Harvest School is a low-cost private school, but they struck me as special upon our first meeting.
Thanks to Raphaelle’s translation, I was able to understand their wide-open arms. They called us an answer to their prayers, and let us know that we were home. I was so excited to be welcomed into such a loving community of educators.
Our plans to work with a small group after school turned into a classroom full of eager and excited 4th graders. As I sat down to plan the lesson for our afternoon with the students, I was quickly reminded of the challenges faced by teachers around the world. I was left with a lack of resources, many students in a small space, a limited curriculum to follow, and no assessment data to indicate what level the students might be at. I really had trouble figuring out where to start.
But nonetheless, Raphaelle and I showed up with blankets, games, beans, pictures and enthusiasm, eager to have students work in small groups, and get comfortable with our “new” style of teaching. They remembered each of our names, and even figured out how to say Ms Brittany – something they struggled with upon our first meeting. One hour of instruction turned into two as we got into it and got a better understanding of their level of English and Math. They were passionate and eager, more than willing to try our games. We walked away sweaty and covered in dirt, discussing excitedly what we should do the following week.
Raphaelle let a student borrow a pen during her writing center – sure not to see it again. At the end of our time, as we high-fived all of the students and waited to talk with the classroom teacher, someone came up and tugged on Raphaelle’s shirt. The little girl who had borrowed her pen was giving it back. It was a clear reminder to me why I need to spend my time interacting with children. As Jesus put it, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 18:3)