Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 3

Another early morning and chilly weather had our energy level low as we boarded the bus to head back to Allapattah Middle School. While we were all excited to be continuing our work, we needed a serious enthusiasm infusion. Upon our arrival at the school, the CityYear staff greeted us with the spark of energy we needed. Our morning warmup, though we were reluctant to get moving, was fast-paced and got us active. In an odd twist, the “Peel the Banana” exercise got us laughing and smiling. They had us go through motions of peeling, chopping, smashing and eating bananas, and had us ending off dancing around “going bananas.” It gave us the drive to get out and work, as silly as it sounds.

We got engaged in a large variety of jobs, helping to beautify all areas of the school. While some groups painted the walls of the school, started to reorganize a storage room, the Montreal and Delaware group got busy repainting the basketball court. The old and faded court lines were making for a rather somber athletic environment. We used some bright colors, blue and banana yellow to be specific, to give the court some new character. As the morning went on, we had the good fortune of watching our hard work culminate into a visible change in the school. The colors kept our spirits high, and kept us motivated to work harder and harder to make the school increasingly beautiful.

After lunch, half of the group went to Dunbar Elementary School to have a field day with the students. We organized three stations; math bingo, educational jeopardy, and some outdoor games to keep them active. The outdoor games got not only the kids, but also the Hillel students, running around the field, and ended with us being out of breath. Getting engaged with the elementary students on that competitive and entertaining level created a personal connection between the groups. The educational games allowed the Hillel students to watch the elementary students engage with their studies, and allowed us to get an inside look at the educational system.

Our students left the day’s activities with a new connection with the community they are volunteering in. We got the chance to see a real change at Allapattah and forge concrete links with students. This real change created powerful discussion over dinner and among the student campuses, who also managed to create meaningful relationships between each other. We ended the days feeling empowered and prepared for another day of work, though exhausted from the work we have already done.

Daniel Etcovitch, Hillel Montreal

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