Good Ol’ Horas Públicas

For three seconds, heading out of the community center to go home felt like it had the dozens of times I had done it during my first months here. That fleeting moment to feel like an entire period of time and it wasn’t the first time that’s happened lately. Nostalgia is in the air these days. At least for me.

Perhaps I’ve been feeling rather sentimental because we’ve begun a new program cycle – one that brings us back to programming with a greater educational focus. It is a similar beginning to the one that spring boarded my experiences with Building Dignity. Now that the kids are in school, Horas Públicas, an oldie but goodie, is back and tonight it came with full force. For many volunteers, it’s probably the least enjoyable and most stressful program, but for some reason (one that I am still trying to figure out) I’m somewhat fond of it.

Exactly 36 kids passed through the community center this afternoon to receive help with their school assignments and or, to have a space to work. With only four people, including myself as tutors for the afternoon, it was undoubtedly a big challenge.

I feel fortunate to be able to reflect on how I’ve grown since my first Horas Públicas seven months ago. Can we just take a moment to think about how that was seven months ago?  At that point, I was three days in and I still felt like I had just stepped off of the airplane, eyes red from little sleep and a mind that tired from racing to catch up to everything that was happening around me. Sure, engaging with the kids and putting in the elbow grease on balancing mathematical equations (as told by one of my first blog posts) turned out to be more transformative than originally thought, but in the moment it was pretty stressful.

Nonetheless, this afternoon didn’t feel overwhelming. Several months ago, I would have emphasized how challenging it was to have to work with such a myriad of homework levels that was scattered upon several different people. But tonight, the hardest part was trying to help three elementary school kids with their homework assignment that told them to draw human behavior. Horas Públicas can be somewhat hard to navigate (figuratively and sometimes literally – making ones way through a room of studying young people can be surprisingly difficult) but I’m proud to say that it isn’t as overwhelming for me as it once was. I think that’s something that can be said for many aspects of my life here.


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