The night before the first English Language Class I was sifting through the printouts of animals with English labels, trying to memorize their names in Spanish. “What am I even doing?” I remember thinking. How could I, someone who doesn’t know any Spanish and had little interacted with the kids in Tijuana Progresso, possibly engage the children and teach them English. It felt like one of those crazy ideas where you keep questioning how you even got into the idea in the first place.
Once I was at clinic, standing in front of 15 little confused and hesitantly grinning faces, all fear and anticipatory anxiety disappeared. We laid out a table full of makeshift craft supplies and the kids were hooked. Everyone was eager to make a paper-plate animal mask, from 4 year olds to teenagers all the kids were engaged and excited. The ELC staff organized an interactive lesson to teach the kids animals in English. The children surprised us all with their enthusiasm and in how quickly they picked up the words! One little girl in particular stuck with me; she was among the youngest in the group and by far the most participative. She made 5 masks and carefully labeled each one in English, asking us for unfamiliar words beyond what we had taught. After making each mask she would parade it in front of her family for 10 minutes and return to making a new one. Overall, the class was a great success! I am already excited to teach the next class, and see how much of what we taught the kids remember!