I woke up feeling cold. The heavy rains had started days before and everything was much cooler now. Listening to the rhythm of the raindrops on our rooftop, I realized it was Saturday and my thoughts went to the classes I would teach later that day. I wondered if the children would come despite the strong rain. I had taught in a formal school for a year and had noticed the decline in attendance on rainy days. I wondered if the same would be true at Pulang Lupa as I got myself ready for the day.
On the drive to the site, the weather worsened. Naturally, I assumed that our students would most likely not attend the classes. We arrived at the site and were surprised to see the chairs already arranged and a number of children waiting for us inside the church. I had never witnessed such a situation! I smiled to the children, inwardly admiring their commitment. I felt as though the strength of the rain was pouring into me. My co-teachers, Gabby and Evetha looked just as excited to get started with the lesson.
Because it was raining we had to share the building with two groups of younger students. I started my group off with a spelling exercise, and at times it was a difficult for me to hear them because of the rain and the chorus of other children competing with their little voices. The students, however, were unfazed. They continued as if we were the only ones in the room. They were also spellbound by the story, “The Loyal Dog.” It was wonderful to see students able to understand the problem and solution of the story.
Because the morning session went well, we decided to stay even though it was still raining a little. No doubt students for the afternoon session would not trade the class just for a little rain I thought to myself. This time, I was correct! The students all came.
At home, what I had seen at Pulang Lupa lingered in my mind. How I wish all students in the Philippines had the same interest in education as the children we teach. In many schools, teachers struggle to retain the attention of their students. Not so at Pulang Lupa. There it is the students who are challenging themselves to get the most from each lesson. And with each lesson their confidence grows and their enjoyment of learning grows with it.
It is so rewarding to teach in a community such as Pulang Lupa, where I have learned to love and understand my students in a deeper way than if I were in a conventional school. To this point, these children haven’t had much formal education or much attention from teachers. But now they are thriving and tomorrow, who knows? These children might become the leaders of the community!