Yesterday was our last day in the Escuela, during the time I have been there I always thought I would find it easy to leave; with 700 children in the school it was difficult to get to know any of them to the extent that you could miss them… How wrong I was.
We arrived at the school and the children were all lined up waiting for us. We were handed microphones, and amongst all the thank you's there was talk of the emotion we felt when we first arrived… And how sad we really were to leave. We handed out prizes of maps and radios, supplied generously by Telefonica, and a few children took the microphone individually to thank us which was lovely.
Next we went round the classes and gave gifts of colouring pencils, felt tips, drawing pads and stickers for each class to share, and then we met with all the teachers and received gifts of tshirts and a bracelet engraved with our name. The teachers have all been so supportive, I intend to keep in touch by email. The headteacher told me he liked me and wants me to return. I haven't ruled it out… Once I have learned more Spanish!
At 11am we had to say goodbye. I had conducted a number of English classes with 4A and they all came to say bye to me, hugging me and climbing on me so much I fell over! Two girls said I could stay and live in their room and they'd sleep somewhere else, this made it even harder to say goodbye as then I really felt I had made some difference for them to feel that way.
An hour later, and with gentle coaxing from the teachers, the children returned to their classrooms and we left with tears in our eyes and headed to Esmeraldas to help other Telefonica volunteers hold a final day fiesta. The children danced, participted in sports day races and we received keyrings as a memento of our time here. They also cooked a huge meal for us and as I sat enjoying my meal, trying to understand the many Spanish conversations, I reflected on my time here and how much I have learned and gained from this experience. Incredible.
Erika is one of our Pronino volunteers and is blogging from Latin America. To find out more about Proniño, head to http://dnc.o2.co.uk/home/Pronino.