Working in a local school is one of the unique experiences when it comes to the ISLP program. On my first trip to Croatia this was the aspect that we were expected to focus on and was the center of the curriculum. Being that the Trinidad trip was university focused I knew the experience was going to be totally different. When we began to discuss the possibility of working in a Trinidad primary school I had no idea what to expect. During our planning process this was not something that we seemed to focus on because the plans were still being put into motion. We walked up to the tiny two story school in the middle of one of the “Trini” neighborhoods with a vague plan and a few materials knowing we had no real clue what we had gotten in to.
Our presence was instantly discovered as the “Trini” students began to crowd around the doorways to study their new visitors. This is when I became excited. I do not want to make a career out of working with children but there is something about the experience that I find rewarding and enriching. The excitement in their eyes and their incredible curiosity gives me energy. When we walked into the classroom you could tell the students did not know what to expect. Awkward is probably the best way to describe how the presentation started. Nine college age students in the front of a small classroom attempting to get 17 middle school-aged students to participate in a large group discussion was just not going to work, a quick change of tactics was needed. This move was a testament to how versatile this particular group is, the transition was smooth. We all split up and took a small group of students to talk to, mine (all boys) seemed confused as to the purpose of the visit. After a slow start they began to open up, and once they did all of my excitement about the school was reaffirmed.
We discussed sports, food and just life at a basic level. I was with these kids for only a short amount of time but by the end of our conversation I had made four new friends. I saw a distinct switch in their comfort level when they began to accept me as someone they approved of; when this happened I did not want to leave. The timing of our departure was interesting because my boys wanted to spend more time with me. The bell for recess rang and the four of them remained in the room trying to convince me to come play soccer with them.
The four boys and how easily they accepted me is a memory I will keep with me because for a short period of time I got to learn and interact with individuals who, hopefully, were affected in some way by my presence there. This is what ISLP is about; it is about being able to have an impact, however small, on someone else.
My mom is an elementary school principal in Frankfort. It meant a lot to me to be able to take a small piece of her school to this school in Trinidad.
College Student Personnel, Master's Student, 1st Year
University of Louisville ISLP