By Ana de Villa – Singson

HS 1983 | Proud to be! 

AAA’s Outreach Club has been teaching English to San Juan Nepomuceno’s elementary students for a few months now. On Fridays, alumnae volunteers teach English Familiarization in the school’s newly-minted English Club. We go through short stories, making students read so they gain confidence in speaking English, teach new words (sometimes when all else fails, I resort to dramatization! When they could not understand “shudder”, I hugged myself and started shaking…and my students started doing the same thing! We had a big laugh after that and I am sure it is a word they will remember!), discuss the story, often with a moral so that they go home not just learning English but hopefully, a life lesson too. It’s been a few months already but each time still feels like the first time; because the expressions on their faces when they figure out a new word and use it correctly is priceless, because they have a child’s honesty and will tell you exactly what they think (whether it’s the correct lesson or sadly…not!). Their faces also light up when our end of session treat, merienda, is brought out! A Jollibee or Mc Donald’s Happy Meal, brownies, take home beverages. It’s not always just food! Treats also include books to take home and read, more material to enrich their minds with.

As in any class, we have “characters” in them. Meet Jacob, who said that the English Club is the best club ever. When asked if he liked the club because of the lessons, the food treats, the library books…he hastily cut it short with “All of the above!” Jacob loves the rubiks cube! It’s the best way to get him excited about anthing! Meet Ms. Nga, my Vietnamese postulate student, who memorized “Umay-Ka” the Igorot’s way of welcoming others and said that she has “gold in her heart!” (Learned from a lesson about Kabunian, the aboriginal Igorot deity and the quest for gold in the mountains). When learning about the food chain in a story, she also wanted to be a butterfly who could fly away from predators and land lightly and prettily. And there was a young boy who when taught about the word “ sanctuary” said that his sanctuary is his bed. You get to know them too in the discussions. While discussing a story about 3 boys, 2 of whom wanted to keep the money they found on the road and 1 who wanted to return it to the lost and found, one student said he would keep the money because that’s what he saw an elder do before. In times like these, you learn to tread lightly as a teacher. You have to make the point that honesty is a virtue without denigrating their life experiences. To make the point, we told them the real-life story of a NAIA janitor who returned as much as 4 million pesos worth of goods he found in the airport, with the single biggest return amounting to Php 2.5 million. Hopefully, that inspired. Hopefully, that showed a better way. Hopefully, it is a lesson that he will carry with him and share with  his family too.

When we teach in Malibay, we do not just teach English. Through the lessons, we teach them a language that will hopefully open up more opportunities for them (it’s the reason some of them gave for joining the English Club). Through our giving of food, we try to nourish their minds too because sanum corpus sanum mente after all! (Sound body in sound mind!). Through gifting of books, we try to teach them a passion for further learning and exploration. And through discussion of morals, we try to gift them with lessons of the soul that we hope they take to heart.

I can’t wait to see my students again in the next session. In this Outreach activity, I receive so much more than I give. To the see the wonder of that “Eureka” and “Aha!” moment in a young child’s face when he figures something out for the first time is precious! That is grace. That is a blessing. Join us next time in Malibay!

Wacky 📸✌️❤️