“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Jane Goodall
A couple of months ago I remember seeing pictures of HOOP students, the school, the community and Peru. I had absolutely no clue what it would be like to volunteer and live in Arequipa, but for some reason I felt like it was the right thing to do. Today I find myself looking at the same pictures and now some of them are pictures of kids which I refer to as “my students”. The kids I got to know over the last months, the kids I am very proud of and the kids I got attached to more than I should probably have. We have been told in the beginning that we should try not to, since saying goodbye would be too hard. Honestly, at first I thought that it couldn’t be that hard. I mean it is only a couple of months, right?
Well, I was wrong. Every single kid was part of my daily life in Peru and I was part of theirs. I have to say it was not always easy. I was taking my work very seriously and I had high expectations not only of the students but mainly of myself. I was focusing on how “little” time I had and how much I wanted to teach them. But I soon found out that there is so much more to teaching than just to go through with your lesson plan. Every single student is different and has different needs. I can’t even tell you how much my mindset has changed in only two months. For me education now is not about forcing whatever you set your mind to, for me teaching the Koala Class meant finding a way to provide a safe environment where the kids have room to learn, develop and most importantly have fun! There are many times where the kids brought so much joy to my heart. One day after class one of my students waited for me to show me something. I don’t know what I had expected but definitely not her pulling out a baby cat which she had with her for the duration of a whole class, just to show it to “teacher Selina”. I still remember how happy that made me.
There were days when I didn’t know how to connect to some of my kids, how to contain twenty students loaded with energy who are always ready to make some noise, help students who were struggling and challenge students who were far ahead of everyone, constantly wanting to learn more – all at the same time.
There are definitely challenges I encountered during my teaching experience both academically and personally. Looking for a chance to grow and step out of your comfort zone? How about moving to a different country (preferably where you don’t speak the official language like me), by yourself, teaching a language which is not your mother tongue and immersing yourself in a totally different culture. There you have it, lots of chances to grow and learn how life is like on the other side of the globe. Exciting, foreign, adventures, super different and super cool!
After all I want to say how thankful I am that HOOP made it possible for me to make an impact on the lives of twenty kids. It might not seem like a big deal, but for me it means a lot. There are so many people behind HOOP putting in work every day giving their best in situations which definitely aren’t always easy, working towards a change and giving without expecting anything in return. Something which I have learned to be a very fulfilling and powerful thing.