What are days of volunteers like at their workplaces? Mexican Jorge Lara tells about one of his days in a primary school in Kirkonseudun koulu in Nakkila, Finland.
Surreal, that’s how my day starts.
7:45 AM; the Game of Thrones alarm from my phone and the energetic yells of my host sister are telling me that it’s time to wake up. As we all do, I stay in bed for five more minutes but then it’s time to begin the day. I go to the kitchen, where I meet my host family and we have breakfast together. I have a quick shower before departing to my work place. I normally cycle with my host sisters to their school and then continue to mine.
I feel like in a dream or in a movie every morning cycling to school, saying “hi” to people and arriving to the school with a positive attitude. The kids are playing outside when the bell rings and I go inside to the building to leave my backpack and jacket in the teachers’ room.
““Huomenta!” That’s the first word I say every day. The teachers answer me with a smile. It’s always good to be here, it’s a very comfortable place, cozy.”
“Huomenta!” That’s the first word I say every day. The teachers answer me with a smile. It’s always good to be here, it’s a very comfortable place, cozy. At least that’s how I always feel here. A small chat is like a warming up before each one of us goes to the classrooms.
It’s Tuesday, the third graders and Pia, their teacher, are waiting for me to arrive. My main task here is to help the whole group during the lessons, but especially focus on the ones who have problems. So keeping that in mind, I go directly to sit next to these kids, and help them.
The first class is over, 10 minutes of recess and then I go to my next lesson: maths. For this lesson I move to another building, where I have maths with the 7th graders and Seppo, my amazing mentor. I always enjoy being with those guys because we have a good relationship. Some of them have some difficulties with speaking English, but this is not a barrier for our communication. We always try to find a way to understand each other.
P.E is the next subject For these two weeks, Seppo and Jarkko, who is my great support person, gave me the chance to hold football lessons during this hour. The girls don’t like it so much, but I can feel the excitement of the boys.
After one hour of football, tired and hungry we go straight to the canteen where we get our lunch. The longer recess is now. Sometimes I go out and play with the kids or then I just stay talking with the teachers in the teachers’ room.
“Now it’s time again for P.E, but this time with the girls. 3rd graders and their teacher Ellu are now playing the traditional Finnish baseball called pesäpallo. I join them, help and have fun with them.”
Now it’s time again for P.E, but this time with the girls. 3rd graders and their teacher Ellu are now playing the traditional Finnish baseball called pesäpallo. I join them, help and have fun with them. For me, one of the main achievements you can have as a volunteer is this intercultural exchange. to see that the kids enjoy me staying here. One smile is more valuable than a lot of other things.
English is my last lesson of the day. The kids are tired and desperate to go home, but this doesn’t take away all of their energy.
“Nähdään huomenna!” are the last words from the students to me today. The day is over.
During these five months I have learned and enjoyed so much every day. I have a special connection with the kids and the teachers. For the first time in my life I feel different. I have only one feeling: happiness. It’s hard to explain, but I feel free, happy and loved.
I know that tomorrow will be a totally different day, but this doesn’t mean it won’t be great.
Text has been published in the magazine MaailmanVaihtoa – Volunteers’ Voices 3/2015.
Jorge participated in Finland in the International Cultural Youth Exchange program in which the participants volunteer for 6 or 12 months. Would you be interested in participating? Read more about the program and apply!