Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Special Day

Yesterday I attended a "convivio" with some of the fifth and sixth grade boys and girls from our school . This is an annual conference for students from some of the Catholic schools in the Comayagua and La Paz area. The students from our school were selected by their teachers to attend the special day. I was there as a chaperon, along with one of the teachers from the school and one of the house moms from Guadalupe.

The students were so excited to get to leave El Conejo and venture to La Paz, which is only about a 10 minute drive. Before the conference started, we explained to them that they were representing our school and needed to be on their best behavior and participate in all the activities. Since none of them had ever been to anything like this, they were extremely quiet and nervous at first. Believe me, this is not how they normally act.

I was so impressed by the behavior or our students throughout the day. They were extremely respectful of the presenter and I never had to tell them to be quiet. The same cannot be said for the other schools. I was appalled at the behavior of some of the students. Even at the break times, we were having fun, but our students were not running around the school causing problems like the other students.

The day consisted of a bunch of icebreaker-type activities- silly songs with actions that we had to sing or games that involved a lot of running around. There was also a song which involved standing in a line and moving together. It was a competition among the schools to see who could perform it the best. While the leader declared a tie, I definitely think that our kids did the best:) After the kids performed, the leader made all the teachers do the same thing. We were much worse than the kids. They couldn't stop laughing at us.

The day also included some reflections on the Resurrection. We broke into groups and the kids were challenged to think of ways that we could live the Resurrection daily. The groups consisted of a few students from each school. I was put in charge of one of the groups. After explaining the activity to them, they all just stared at me. The students from our school were the basically the only ones offering suggestions. Most of the other kids didn't seem to care. I was so surprised by this. I tried to ask them questions to pull them in to the conversation, but they didn't respond. Instead they just walked away. Eventually a few more helped out, but it was not the kind of participation I was expecting.

At lunch, I was discussing with the other teachers what happened in the small group and they said that they had similar experiences in their groups. One of the teachers then explained to me why there was such a difference between our kids and the other kids. She said that these other schools are very expensive to attend and most of the students are children of doctors and lawyers. She said that because they are from the upper class, they have a sense of entitlement and don't respect authority. Our kids are from the complete opposite end of the spectrum. They don't take anything for granted. While what they get in our schools may not compare to what these other kids have, they know they are extremely blessed to have APUFRAM's help. To them, this was such a special day because they hardly ever get to leave the boarding facilities. They really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy every minute of it.

After she said this, my observations of the way the kids were acting changed. During a game involving forming groups of a certain number with kids from every school in it, our kids were almost always the ones left out. Watching their faces, it seemed like they knew they were not on the same level as the other kids. It broke my heart to see these kids who are usually so outgoing and not the least bit shy, just stand back and watch everyone else. Once I realized this, I tried even harder to get them involved. By the end of the day, they were themselves again. It didn't matter that we had to bring our lunches while the other kids got to buy hamburgers and chips or that we had to cram on a tiny buy while the other schools rode nice big buses. What mattered is that we were having fun with each other and enjoying a special experience. I guarantee that our kids got a lot more out of the day than any of the other students.

Attending this conference is something that neither the kids nor I will forget. We still sing the songs and laugh about things that happened that day. It is also a motivation for the younger students to study hard and behave. Only the students that the teacher thought best represented our school were chosen, so it was an honor. Hearing about the fun the other kids had will hopefully inspire them to work hard so they can attend next year. The overall message from the day- Christ has risen! Alleluia! May He resurrect every part of our lives so we may be better able to serve Him and others!