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  • On the third day of teaching kids in the DR to count from 1-20 in English we decided to use hopscotch as a fun, interactive way to learn. After going through the daily introductions to practice “my name is _________”, we began counting as a group from our hand crafted board. With a group of seven boys ranging from ages six to ten eagerly sitting on the floor in front of me, I ask if anyone thought they could count on their own and each boy successfully completed the task. I brought the group over to our self-created taped hopscotch and struggled to explain the objective. I showed them by jumping through the course while counting. When I finished and the first few boys went, I realized it was not the counting they were struggling with; these boys did not know how to play hopscotch. A simple childhood game I thought everyone grew up playing. That is when I had the realization how different life was in the DR. For me growing up at their age, all I worried about was school and maybe sports practices but other than that I had no responsibilities. I filled my time with “childhood games” like outdoor activities, dancing and singing, or hand games. My parents took care of the rest. These young kids are working around the house, doing family chores, or taking care of their siblings. There is a poor education system in the DR so school is only a half-day so school may not always be a priority for them. Most students do not make it to high school. Teaching this simple game of hopscotch helped me realize so much more than their struggle with the English language. The organization we worked with believes in giving kids the power of choice through their education; many kids in the DR don’t have the choice of what they want to do when you grow up, they don’t have that dream because they never known the power of choice. The kids attending (the parents allowing them) were acknowledging that they understand the power of knowledge. It is not easy for some of these kids to disrupt their family duties to come to the learning camp but it was a tremendous step in the right direction.
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