(A serious post that I really would like input/thoughts on:)
Today I brought pencils to give out at Deporte y Vida. Useful, fun and school-related, right?
This caused more problems than I anticipated.
My plan was to give them to kids as they finished their work.
And that worked, for a bit, until word started getting around that somebody was giving out pencils.
And then suddenly the whole neighborhood showed up.
I required them to show me finished homework, but then there were some who "didn't have any" or "already took it home" or "had to wait to do the other part" and "no they didn't have any other subjects." Kid a was telling me that kid b was lying and that kid c already had gotten a pencil. Kid d was shoving kid e and claiming he didn't even attend the program. They were crawling on the table, standing on the bench and generally causing a ruckus. What was supposed to be a reward for doing good work was disrupting others from working. :(
Suddenly I found myself doubting everyone, looking into young kids' eyes and trying to tell if they were lying to me. And I found myself wondering how this could be. Am I really accusing this 8 year old of trying to con me? Is this 8 year old actually trying to cheat for a pencil? Have I seen this kid before? Does he really need a pencil that bad that he would try to fake homework to get one? Who am I to decide who gets one of these pencils?
I don't want to be just another gringa handing out stuff, perpetuating a stereotype. I don't ask that they remember me forever but I would rather that they remember the time spent with them than just pencils.
On the plus side, I found that my teacher voice works in Spanish too.
What do you think people? Could I have done this better? Should I have not done it at all?
How can you reconcile rewarding hard workers with giving to kids who clearly need it?
Hasta la proxima