Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Pre Teen Group

Conversations That Inspire

NEVER did I think I would teach a SEX talk to a group of pre-teen girls!! Let alone in Guatemala, in another language. All I have to say is wow. Just wow. What a meaningful and rewarding discussion. We all shared personal stories, stories about friends and loved ones. And we talked about the importance and opportunity to say no. We talked about the consequences, and how one decision can flip your life upside down. In this culture, it is so unbelievably common for young girls to get pregnant, and the man walks away. I was so impressed with how shy they were at first, and then they opened up and started sharing real life stories about their families. We all described what "real love" means to us. It was really powerful and interesting. Even though these girls are only about 11 years old. It is so much better to talk about these hard subjects NOW before they are living in the situation and they are feeling unprepared. 

Then, I also received a card from one of my preteen girls, "I will never forget the new things you have taught me over the past three months. You have been like a sister. Thank you for being honest and sharing your stories with us. Thank you for playing with us. I will never forget you. I don't want you to leave. God bless you." My heart melted. Saying goodbye to this group of girls is going to be the hardest. Today they all asked me to take a picture with them. They all wanted a group picture to remember me, and then they said, "can we all take one with you individually". I felt like a celebrity/model. But how special is that...these girls didn't ask for a gift, they asked for a picture. To them they didn't need a materialistic gift, they wanted a sentimental picture. Little do they know that next week I am going to be giving each of them a very special bracelet as well. 

My passion has always been with the little ones, teaching children ages 2-6 years old is my absolute favorite. My real teaching gifts shine, and my passion ignites. Its not that I don't like children that are older, it is just that my heart and my talent is really seen when I am around the little ones. They are able to show so much love, and they want love in return. The hugs, the constant reminders and compliments...are always appreciated! Yes, it can take a lot of patience at times, but in the end it is worth it! I really believe I was put on this earth to be a teacher and impact the lives of others. Whether I am in Guatemala or the United States, I am going to impact the lives of children for many more years to come. I am confident of that. 

At the beginning of my journey, I dreaded every Friday class. The girls were very immature, and I just felt uncomfortable. It was a different environment and age group that I was not used to. Now, I am not going to tell you that I want to teach 6th grade now...but I will tell you that I am actually starting to really enjoy our Friday class. I am actually part of the planning and carrying out of the lessons. In the beginning I would just attend, and observe Jackeline and the girls. Now, I am another mentor for these girls, and I am building relationships with them.  It really is a powerful feeling to be a mentor and role model for someone, especially when you understand how much they need that in their life. These girls treat me like I am a doll some times. They are constantly touching my hair, looking at my nails, playing with my earrings, asking me about my clothes, etc. Most of the time I don't mind at all, but some times I want to just say "OK ENOUGH!" I have already seen big changes in the class and in these girls since I have been here. This Friday after class, I felt so happy and so warm inside. 

Every week I try to think of something to help these girls feel more comfortable talking and participating in class. This week we incorporated an activity that I have done many times in my life. Jackeline and I put a bunch of random questions into a bowl. 

For example:

- Do you have a boyfriend? Why or why not?

- What do you like to do at home?

- Do you like to dance? Why?

- Do you like to sing?

- What makes a role model?

- What are your top three values?

- Why is it important to study?

- What does complete beauty mean?

- What is integrity mean to you?

This pushed the girls to think on the spot, and answer in front of the whole group. We all took turns passing the bowl and answering questions. I had my doubts, normally I hate games like this! I even participated and answered my questions in Spanish obviously...and it was a challenge! But, we all loved it! We were all a little nervous, and we laughed at some of the answers, and it was such a great activity for them!

Turns out, only one of the girls has a boyfriend. I started to ask her all sorts of questions about her boyfriend in front of the other girls, and she answered every single one. Then, they asked me if I had a boyfriend. I told them all about my relationship. The good and the bad, the hard times, and the amazing times. I want them to know that it isn't always butterflies and rainbows...relationships take a lot of work, trust, and faith. They were all listening to me so intently, and looking at me like my words were gold. I know I am making a difference in their life, and I love it!

For the first time in my life...I am actually inspired to do something like this in the United States. I do not want to teach upper level grades, I still want the little ones! But...I would love to have a similar group like this back home. A group to support teens, be a role model, answer those hard questions, be like a big sister to girls that need it in their life. It's something I will think about...but for the first time in my life...I am actually thinking about it! Something so different than I have ever enjoyed or done before! 

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