Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas from the Heart

I know I've written a lot about Yo'onik, the remedial education project where we volunteer, but I can't help but write about our Christmas experience with them. 

In many of the indigenous communities, Christmas isn't really celebrated. They don't decorate, or have a Christmas tree or Santa Claus. It is really just an ordinary day for them, unless they are practicing Catholics (which most aren't). So we thought it would be fun to share some of our Christmas traditions with the kids at Yo'onik. 

We taught them about snowflakes, and how every snowflake is unique - and we taught them how to cut snowflakes and we decorated them with glitter. They loved this, even though they kept saying they looked like flowers. But I guess that is what they are familiar with, since they have never seen snow.

The next week we had a Christmas party with the kids. We taught them We Wish You A Merry Christmas in Spanish, listened to Christmas music, decorated the classroom with our snowflakes, and made Christmas ornaments with them. 

They were so excited to make ornaments. They made trees, angels, hearts, snowmen, and a bunch of other shapes. They colored them, decorated with glitter, sequins, and other crafty things. They are so creative and had so much fun. 

After they decorated their ornaments we ate snicker-doodle cookies and practiced our song again. Then we invited their parents in and they sang the song for their parents and gave them the ornaments they had made. They were so excited that they got to keep the ornaments. Such a simple thing to bring joy to a handful of children. 

After we finished with our little program for the parents, Xunka and Yoli (the two in charge of the project) brought in gifts for all the kids. They had gotten donations for new jackets for all the kids and some candy to share with them. The kids were so excited to have new jackets and they all hurried to put them on. 
It is so humbling to see how other people live - when in the states we are so preoccupied with buying gifts, decorating, cooking an insane amount of food, etc. But here - they were so elated just to make some ornaments and getting used jackets. They definitely live with so much less, and are still so happy. We were so glad to be a part of this school during the holidays. We have come to love all of the kids there - and they are always excited to see us too. They always come up and give us hugs and ask us to help them. They are so sweet. This will be one of the things we miss most once we leave here. 

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