It’s not often that our students get the opportunity to leave the barrio where they live. For most of our students, the reality of a neighborhood seeping with trash and drenched in poverty, violence, and addiction is the only reality they ever get to see. When an opportunity did arrive for our 4-7 year olds to leave, even just for half a day to the Guatemala City Zoo, it was a dream come true.
The energy level was high as 100 or so of us teachers, volunteers and students piled off the bus, I could hardly believe the patience the students showed as they waited to get in, and then stayed with their teachers as we passed from the meerkats to the hippos, then exotic birds and onwards. We were accompanied by our friends from Maine's Rotary District 7780 who helped make this a special day for the kids. Each and every stop created jaw-dropping stares and lots of pointing, “look, teacher! A zebra!”
The elephants and tigers were favorites for most. The boys loved the reptile house, but as I lifted one girl up to come face to face with a twenty-foot boa constrictor, she recoiled in fear and subsequently wouldn’t let go of my hand until we were far clear from the big snake. All of the students were too smart to believe me when we approached an empty cage “this is where the invisible alligators are!” but we did laugh about it.
Too often I can get caught up with the day-to-day of my job here and get distracted away from the end goal, and that our focus is and always should be giving the very best support and education we can to these children. I think I had just as much fun as our young ones did seeing the animals and remembering what it is like to be a kid again. It was a personal breath of fresh air and an encouragement to do all we can to keep being able to offer special moments like these for our students year after year.
See more photos in our Facebook album here.