Azalea Goes to Local School (for a month)
For the first year, San Juan del Sur Day School changed to be more like the traditional North American schedule with 6 weeks off between mid July and end of Aug. We decided to take advantage of this break and enrolled Azalea into a local primary school to give her a jump on learning Spanish and make some local Nica friends.
We decided that Newton Montgri would be the best option for preschool since the other local preschools in town lump all kids 2-5 years old into the same class. Not only does this sound like a logistic nightmare, it increases the number of kids per class, and I can’t image much time is spent on actual education. I took Juanita with me to ask the director of the school if enrolling Azalea for just one month would be okay. With much relief she said “sí”, introduced us to the teacher, and showed us the classroom. I think Juanita was proud that Azalea would be attending a local school and quickly went to work finding a uniform in Azalea’s size. She also obtained the required notebook, colored pencils, and regular pencil.
We went to California for a month, planning on Azalea attending the week after we returned. During our vacation I talked to Azalea a lot about her new “Summer Spanish School” and how everyone would only speak Spanish just like when she hung out with her neighbor friend & family. She seemed fine with the idea. She is a very social little girl, so I had high hopes for her integration.
The first day of school I was a little nervous for Azelea, but that quickly dissolved after seeing her in the traditional uniform. I pointed out all the kids in the same uniform on our way to school at 8:15am. Kharron & Juanita also went on the first day, apprehensive for her new adventure. I picked her up after school at 11:30am and she was excited that she had made friends and one girl had given her a little “present”. The teacher told me she had done well, to pack a plate in her backpack, and that her water had spilled, so she had put it in a bag….all of which, took me a second to translate.
The next day when I told Azalea that it was time to get ready for school, her nervousness was visual. She told me that she didn’t want to go to “Spanish school” and that she didn’t understand what anyone was saying. I felt bad, but I know my daughter and if I continued to force her to go, she would soon make friends and her nervousness would dissipate.
This week the teacher asked if I could make the lunch on Wednesday. I didn’t really understand what she meant until another woman put dried beans, oil, and very dry corn in a bag. Oh, I was supposed bring these items back cooked! I showed Juanita when I got home and she offered to cook it. Actually she suggested that I buy cooked beans, tortillas, and Nica cheese so that the meal would have some flavor. We delivered it Wednesday morning along with a gallon of orange juice. From what Azalea said it was a hit. She told me the “Spanish speaking kids stole her tortillas.” That’s okay, she doesn’t really like Nica tortillas anyway.
We’re now about 2 weeks into our 4 weeks and the pre-school tears have ceased. Azalea still tells me she is nervous on our drive to school, but she is always excited about her morning when I pick her up. She is quickly making friends. I feel very proud when I walk around town with her in uniform, it makes me feel like I am a part of the community rather than just another gringo family living in Nicaragua, but not integrating with Nicaraguans. I still plan on sending Azalea to the international school, but I hope that Azalea is able to go back to Newton during school breaks and continues the friendships she’s making.
The local schools are free for students, but we wanted to give something to the school as a thank you for letting Azalea drop-in for a month. I asked Juanita what she thought would be a good gift and she suggested “maletin de primeros auxilios” (a.k.a. first aid kit) or a buy a Filtron water purifier for the classroom. Both items are not very expensive, so we may just buy both.