- Steve Sider
- I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
A Day in the Life of a 16 Year Old Canadian Girl in a Haitian School
Today was a very busy day, at least for me! I woke up this morning at 6 o’clock this morning to get ready to go to the Regina Assumption College school. I was going to follow around two girls to see what an average school day would be like for a 16 or 17 year old girl in Haiti. I was very nervous about today, and felt that I was out of my comfort zone because it would be my first day on my own, in a school full of girls that did not speak any English. We had one of the Sisters from the Stella Maris drive us, and we got there exactly at 7, which is when school starts. The two girls, Ellen and Diane, met me at the office and walked me to their classroom. From there we went through the following subjects: Math, Haitian Literature, Algebra, English, Chemistry, and homework. Thankfully, Ellen spoke very good English and translated many of the teachers and students’ questions for me. In math, the teacher spoke some English, so we chatted for a while. The class asked me about school life in Canada, and I tried to speak slowly and in small words so that they could get an idea about what I was saying. It was a rough start, but by the end of the first period, Ellen and I had gotten the hang of talking together. They also sang me a song which I recognized, My Bonnie. Here are the lyrics if you’re not familiar with the song:
My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
My Bonnie is over the sea,
My Bonnie is over the ocean,
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me.
Bring back, bring back, oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me!
Bring back, bring back, oh bring back my Bonnie to me!
I thought this was very sweet (they even changed the name “Bonnie” to “Karley”) until they wanted me to sing the song all by myself. That was extremely out of my comfort zone because I don’t sing and am extremely self-conscious about my singing, but I did it anyways because I didn’t want them to feel like I was being rude. I don’t know if my singing has improved, or if they were just being polite but I got a standing ovation at the end. We had Haitian Literature next, which I didn’t understand at all since it was all being spoken in French, but Ellen told me that they were learning about Haitian artists.
I also had a conversation with some of the girls about Justin Bieber. They asked me if he was my favourite singer and I said yes, for conversation sake (let it be clear that I do not like Justin Bieber’s music, whatsoever). I told them the story about how he came to one of my soccer games once, and how my town is basically right beside his, and they were all pretty impressed. After Haitian literature, Ellen and Diane took me down to the cafeteria, where I was swarmed with many little girls who were excited to pet my hair and stroke my skin. The group of girls shared their food with me since I hadn’t brought a snack (it was only 9 o’clock in the morning). After snack time, we went back to the class to learn Algebra. They were learning about the formula for the sides of triangles, which I found easy to follow along (it’s ironic because math is one of my worst subjects back home).
At this point the girls had gotten very comfortable with me and started to send me notes in English. One girl asked if I loved her, so I responded with a ‘yes!’ because I was not sure what else to put. Other girls asked me some more basic questions, such as my favourite sports and what I liked about school. Some girls complimented me on my smile, and asked if they could comb my hair for me, which was an interesting combination but I agreed nonetheless. Some topics that came up quite frequently were if I was married or if I had a boyfriend. When I responded negatively, they cried out with outrage. When they asked me why I didn’t, I didn’t quite know how to respond. I ended up saying that I liked being single because it was fun. The group didn’t quite believe that; most of the girls had boyfriends or really wanted one (one girl stated that she had two, and I’m still not quite sure if she was joking or not). After Algebra, English came fourth which was the easiest out of all the subjects so far (obviously). The teacher had me to participate in some of the activities, which were pretty easy (thank goodness, how embarrassing would it be if I couldn’t complete proper grammar in my first language?). They were learning about the differences between using “will” and “going to” and when it was appropriate to use them. After English came Chemistry and then a homework period. Those went by quietly and when my Laurier group came to pick me up, I gave some gifts to Ellen and Diane to thank them for helping translate English to French.
I ended up giving Ellen my email, and I hope we stay in touch!
Pictures posted tomorrow!!