Hello from Haiti! Please enjoy this long overdue look at the start of our school year.
The best way to describe our first trimester of school is a "beautiful mess". We have very much been in the mode of figuring things out as we go, which despite my preference for order, is the nature of starting a school from scratch, and of doing almost anything in Haiti! We had students registering for school as they walked in on the first day, were borrowing kitchen equipment for a few weeks until we purchased our own, and one time had to end school early just so I could go to the bank. In between teaching, I am swept up in the random tasks of making sure we have toilet paper and enough money to go to the market that week. It has been a rollercoaster but I have loved every minute because...just look at these precious faces that I get to surround myself with! I am honored and humbled to be invited into their daily lives, their stories, their families, and their hearts.
Meet our little class! We are a Montessori primary classroom, which means we have students ranging from age 3 to 6, all learning side by side. In addition to that age span, we are also blending languages and cultures. My staff consists of two beautiful Haitian women who cook our daily breakfast and lunch, and two kind and big hearted classroom assistants who help me out for half of the day to manage our circus. Our students arrive at 8am, eat breakfast, and then begin their 3 hour work cycle. We end our morning by coming together to sing, read stories, or have a mini dance party (in both English and Creole) before going outside for recess and lunch. My younger students leave after lunch and the older children stay to keep working until 3pm.
My students call me Miss Meagan (and occasionally Mom, Matant, which means Aunt, or Marenn, which means Godmother). I am their teacher, but most days I play many additional roles ranging from nurse to janitor to counselor. I have never had my heart so full or so broken as it has been these past four months. As I learn their stories, I encounter way too much suffering than should exist in the life of a little 5 year old. Yet despite that, they are full of SO. MUCH. JOY! They walk into school with smiles and they delight in almost everything from running water, to capturing a spider (happens frequently), to a new science lesson. They are curious, rambunctious, thoughtful, spontaneous, hardworking, and silly. They are learning letters and sounds, how to count, about their faith and how much the Lord loves them, geography and culture of other places, how to be courteous, colors, shapes, how to take care of themselves and their environment, and so much more! Everyday is a learning adventure and I must admit that we are having way too much fun.
That being said, our daily life is far from glamourous. We did not have running water until a week ago so it has been a lot of toting buckets and attempting to keep our bathrooms hygienic. There are almost always distractions, such as after the hurricane when helicopters would fly overhead nearly every hour resulting in all of my students excitedly jumping out of their seats to go look up at the sky, or someone working on our roof to fix leak. There has been vomit, scraped knees, accidents, and more tears then I care to count. But mixed in with that there have been more smiles, giggles, and kisses then I could possibly count, and actual moments of learning! I have seen my students grow from never even being in a school setting before, to walking into school in the morning excited to dive into a lesson that they started the day before. I have seen a beautiful blend of the sharing of languages and culture between not only myself and my Haitian staff, but also between my Haitian students and the American missionary children.
Even though it has been almost four months now, sometimes when I walk to school in the morning and prepare for my students to arrive I look around the classroom in disbelief at all the Lord has done and how quickly He has moved to make this happen! I promise that none of this is my doing. I am very much unqualified and unexperienced so it is only through and because of the Lord that any of this has been able to happen. I love that! I would not want it any other way. Thanks for joining us on this beautiful messy heartbreaking and joy filled journey as we seek to awaken wonder, joy, and curiosity through education in our little town.
Stay tuned because big things are brewing for our little school and there is much in store for this year!