|“I came down to an island with close to no plan, no place to stay, no things to do, and just one person to meet. I went to a local Spanish School [Habla Ya Spanish Schools] here in Bocas and asked the staff about volunteering. They then told me about the Give & Surf Organization, and how they were looking for English teachers. I had never taught English before in my life, but it sounded interesting and it would help me to find a place to stay for my three months living in Bocas.
I met with the organizer of my course, Drew Berger; he explained to me what teaching was like and gave me a few tips and games to play to get started. They also paired me up with a co teacher, Charly. At first I was scared I was going to forget the lesson, they wouldn’t understand me, I wouldn’t succeed in teaching them anything. I had spent the day before fretting over how I was going to fill the whole time, and how long we would spend on each activity. When class time rolled around, my students shyly shuffled in and we began the lesson. By the time the class was over we had covered everything in the lesson and more!
I focused mainly on conversational teaching. I got close with my students by learning about their jobs, families, favorite foods, cultural and lingual differences. One of my students came a little later in the course but he showed up every class after that. His name was Christian. Christian wore a plaid dress shirt and jeans to every class until one day he came wearing a shirt with the logo of Playa Tortuga Hotel. I asked Christian where he was before class. He said he had just come from work. Up to this point in the class christian had been unemployed. I asked him where he worked and what he did there. He told me that he worked at the hotel in reception but needed help with what he was supposed to say when his customers came in.
I modeled the next lesson on hotel reception. I always asked my students what they wanted to learn from me. To try and teach them exactly what they needed to know. It made me feel good to have a student of mine get a job within my course. Then come and ask for help as to what they wanted to learn. Christian and many other students of mine and Charly’s were very studious and made quick progress. I think that is because we made connections with them and taught them the language that they needed to know.
Teaching this course was a very meaningful, useful, and productive experience. I can teach anywhere in the world now because Give & Surf and Habla Ya gave me this opportunity. I feel good going away knowing I made a difference in somebody’s life for the better. Very grateful for the opportunity.”
– Keenan Hansen, Give & Surf Volunteer, 2016