In an ever-evolving, globalized society, the importance of receiving a comprehensive education can never be undervalued. For many people in Buenos Aires, competing in a global market means learning English. However, access to English classes is not universal in this city; many families have to pay for their children to attend English language classes. For some families this is a great financial burden, but also an investment for the future of their children.
This past month, CEA offered an opportunity to work with some of the children who attend English classes in the same building as CEA study abroad classes are held. This was a wonderful opportunity not only to engage with the culture and people of Buenos Aires more, but also to give back to the city that has welcomed me with open arms. In small groups, we took turns planning story time for the children to enjoy before their classes began. Each group chose a book to read aloud in English that included vocabulary that we would teach the kids, and each group planned an activity for after story time.
When story time rolled around, eight kids, dressed in their adorable school uniforms, nervously entered the library. As they sat in a semi-circle they watched our every move with such curiosity it was if we were about preform in a circus not just read them a story. Apparently, hearing English being spoken by actual “gringas” is somewhat of an odd commodity because the first few words out of our mouths were met with shock and awe, but as we began to read all of that changed. We chanted, laughed, danced, hissed and roared our way through a story about a snake traveling through a jungle. After the story we all practiced the noises of the animals that we saw in the book so that the children could pair the word in English with the universal sound of that same animal. We ended our story time with coloring and candy because we all know the true key to successfully working with kids is to at some point involve candy in the activity.
All in all is was such an endearing experience being able to interact with children, plus for some reason kids that are speaking Spanish are 10 times cuter than kids speaking English. I left volunteering that night with a rejuvenated sense of purpose. All of those kids were ecstatic to learn even just five new animals in English that day. I remember when I started taking Spanish classes seven years ago, every day I would come home enjoyed that I knew more and more vocab. In the hustle and bustle of college life it is easy to lose that giddiness. Every new chapter of vocab is just more memorizing that I have to get through in preparation for an exam. When in reality these kids showed me that learning a language is an investment in your future, it does involve sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be fun along the way.
Maggie Luehrs is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently a junior at Colorado State University.
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