service (take 4)

Today’s lesson: service.

After our team meeting this morning, we quickly drove over to the centre to find several of the parents already waiting for us inside with their children—a total of eight kids right off the bat. Some of the newer parents stayed at the side during the class. So many kids arriving early meant we had little time to prepare before the class; we may have to re-evaluate our preparation habits to compensate… we’d love to hear your experiences with preparing for children’s classes and any tips you may have to share.

We started with a few prayers; …. and I recited one, and one of the children did too. Since we had so many new faces present, we went around and introduced ourselves by giving our name, our age and what languages we spoke. Many of the children said they spoke mainly English and Tagalog, and I told them that we were counting on them to teach us how to speak Tagalog properly. Then we practiced the prayer we began learning last week, using the step method (adding a little at a time, and repeating). Next, we taught them the song “Look At Me” and sang it together; it’s an easy song that everyone seemed to pick up rapidly. After the song, we asked them if they remembered who ‘Abdu’l-Baha was, and used that to introduce the topic of service, which led into memorizing the quote and then into the story of ‘Abdu’l-Baha sending Lua Getsinger to visit the sick man. Everyone went quiet at the end, so I’m guessing it touched them.

After the story, we played the game noted in Book 3, “Help the Sick”, which involved locking wrists together and carrying each other across the floor to the “hospital”, which they all loved. I felt we were rushing through it a little, but at least we ended up with enough time to do the colouring at the end of class. We limited the number of colouring pens again, to test how well the children could share the colours, and they all seemed to do quite well. I took some time during the colouring to pass handouts to the parents, asking them to use them to study the material from the class (the song, quote, etc) with the children to help them remember.  We ended the class by getting back together and singing “Look At Me” one more time.

Overall, it was obvious that the home visits we’ve been doing with the parents have made a big difference; our interactions with them seem to be warm and loving (if still a little unfamiliar), and they already seem to be getting comfortable with us, and with taking their children to the class. It really seems to be a boon to us to be holding the class somewhere that’s already a hub of activity for them; they know exactly where it is and are comfortable with bringing their kids over. It truly does feel like a neighbourhood class.

Thanks to all of you for walking with us and serving with us. This truly is a captivating and exciting journey to be on.

justice (take 3)

Today’s lesson: justice.

Everyone was on time again. Today we had two children present. … joined us for part of the class, and spent some time talking to one of the Vietnamese friends who dropped by to do some photocopying.

Class began with prayers as usual; the children are calm and respectful during this time. We continued by memorizing the French version of “O God Guide Me” (even though I got the tune wrong this time); both children seem to know it very well now, and one said he had been practicing it at home. We continued on with memorization, again using the laptop for visual aids; we explained justice (the theme of the lesson) so that both children had a basic understanding of it, giving plenty of examples of both justice and injustice. The story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá taking the less expensive coach helped to cement this concept in their minds. We then took a short break for stretches and a game, and returned to the table to finish the drawings we began last time and begin new ones. I was able to print out handouts with the quote, the song and another picture for the parents to take home, so that they would have a way to practice their lessons during the week. We walked home with one of the parents after class; she invited us in, but we politely declined this time, assuring her that we would come another time. Personally, I felt we shouldn’t necessarily impose and that she might have felt obligated—but any thoughts from others on this? Should we have jumped at the chance anyway? [Note that other members of our teaching team have also been having home visits with the parents.]

My co-teacher and I went for tea afterwards and discussed how we wanted to divide the tasks in the class, and shared some teachers’ resources. We also discussed a few other things, including the idea (which I wrote about in last week’s report) of bringing some of our new contacts into an English Corner run by local Bahá’ís. … had also suggested that we may want to change the class time, perhaps to Friday afternoon or evening, to better accomodate the director’s availability, seeing as he’s had to bail us out all the way from … more than once. He assured us that it was no problem at all though, and, besides that, the parents indicated that the weekend timing was better for them as well, and that Friday afternoon would be problematic.

All in all, a good class; each week we find ourselves more prepared, more organized and more ready to deal with whatever comes. Thank you to everyone for being part of this amazing team.