© 2013 Annie Rouse

Learning to Swing

When I was about 6 years old, I remember my siblings teaching me how to “pump” on our backyard swing set. I practiced all summer long at our local pool so that when September arrived I wouldn’t need someone to push me on the school swing set- no more monkeybars, no more teeter-totter. I could swing, all on my own, pumping my legs, creating my own energy, just like the big kids…

We arrived in El Llano and Aguacate in the morning and met with the community members at the two town’s shared school. The school was small with only two classrooms but was beautifully painted with different characters either from TV show cartoons or created images. The only two teachers were present at the meeting, one of which shared her classroom materials and experiences with us. One teacher taught kindergarten, first, second, and third grade all concurrently in the same classroom. The classroom was filled with bright colors, alphabet wall hangings and other learning materials, either purchased or hand-made.

Using materials creatively

The teacher used whatever materials she had on hand. She used plastic bottle caps to create a mathematical tool based on an abacus counter. She also used plastic bottles for arts and crafts to make flowers for room decorations. As she gave us a tour of the classroom she pointed out two old phones and a rustic PC. She explained that none of them actually worked but she felt it was important for the kids to be aware of what they were.

The meeting began with us (the ecotourism group) asking the community leaders and teachers their experiences with the previous Team El Salvador 5 (TES5) and if any strides had been made in respect to the goals mentioned in the TES5 report regarding tourism. They each expressed their frustrations regarding the lack of communication between communities and overall funding. They felt their villages had been forgotten and the more developed villages were receiving all the funds.

They then began to speak of what struck me through the heart. The other teacher explained, “We asked for a swing set for the kids. They have so much energy, they need somewhere or something to play with…soccer nets, a basketball goal. We have the space, we drew a design for the swing set and gave it to the mayor but we got nothing. No response. We need these things for the kids. It’s all for the kids.”

I sat back with shock and sadness. I spent the better part of my life playing soccer and basketball without thinking twice about not having it. Some of my favorite memories from elementary school were on the playground- making friends, playing games, and running around. I don’t know many people- kid or adult- that would say otherwise.

One of the teachers showed us a drawing of the playground equipment they wanted- simply three swings, two teeter-totters and a swing, just to keep the kids entertained and happy. But for now they just have to wait until the funding comes through, if ever.


Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Sites DOT MIISThe Middlebury Institute site network.