Volunteering at a kindergarten
It's September now. I have found a volunteering opportunity at a bilingual Montessori kindergarten with a private studio, ensuite bathroom, and kitchenette provided in return for daily 5 hours of work. Food is also provided on weekdays. The place is clean and well looked after. The owner is respectful and thoughtful. It's overall quite an improvement compared to my previous experience at the animal shelter!
As I am interested in the Montessori method it's a good opportunity for me to pick up some experience and work with the local children who are encouraged to use the English language in their day-to-day activities.
I am not much involved in classroom management and planning activities which somehow forced me to slow down, observe, and learn instead. In the beginning, it was difficult for me to accept being in the background and not being trusted with responsibilities - after 10 years of work along with small children in the UK. My enthusiasm lessened along with the senior dominating teachers who rarely let me handle tasks, such simple things as comforting a child who has fallen, walking kids across the road to the other building, or gathering the children's stuff when the parents arrived to pick them up, etc. They needed to turn up and be louder to take over from me, at times leaving me with the feeling of being less important and useless. I don't know if it was because they didn't speak English and thought that the child or the parents wouldn't understand me, however, they did! Even if they didn't understand all the words, body language: hugs, smiles, glances are universal signs to communicate with. Or they just used to having control.
As soon as the clashing energies settle within me I start to shift my focus from my feelings to the service I can provide to the children:
on an educational level to help them learn and use a universal language
on a personal level to encourage them to be themselves
With the trust of one of the younger staff members, I receive the green light to prepare activities for the children that they can try out during their time of free play. I have collected many creative and educational ideas that I can test on the kids with the focus on aiding their language development and build their confidence. And now, I start to feel I am part of the team!
I love to be surrounded by children's energy: pure, raw, innocent, vibrant, colourful, curious, fun-loving. I enjoy leading by the heart and supporting their growth by inviting them to learn through creative ideas and through engaging activities. I let them have a choice, hear them out, and cater to their interests that nurture them toward the journey of becoming confident and worthy individuals.
Teaching with a fear-based mentality?
I noticed that the senior staff (4 teachers out of the 8) is more controlling/ oppressive, less sensitive and they don't smile. Two of these teachers are already retired and more sensitive to the noise, more tired by the end of the afternoon, and less patient with the kids. In order for them to feel better, they limited the children's access to certain games/ toys/ facilities during playtime and told them off for laughing out "too" loud, screaming from joy, or run "too fast" outdoor at the play areas just to mention a few. In almost every 5 minutes these two teachers had to yell at some kids because they did something the two teachers disapproved of. If there were no issues to call, they had to find something so that they could use their voice again.
This experience helped me to realize why Hungarian children grow up to feel less deserving of success/ happiness, and why many of them lack confidence/ worth as adults. It had been my issue too until I learned to be more assertive as soon as I blended into the British culture when I moved to London in my early twenties. British kids grow up to be highly confident regardless of their skills and talents. I experienced that the children are generally raised with a more positive and cheerful attitude and they are simply let to be in the UK. Their individual interests are supported, the possibilities are presented for them whereas children in Hungary are encouraged to go with the mass and limited possibilities are presented by their seniors and the culture. (I won't go into details of the advantages and disadvantages of the two ends..) So I compared my two cultural experiences and understood where the lack of self-confidence stems from in Hungarian people. The older generation, who live fear-based and/or project their unresolved issues/ unhealed emotions on the younger generation, limits their freedom of choice, freedom of happiness & joy. These adults literally feel that they don't deserve to be happy therefore go with the choices that please the mass. And the mass of the Hungarian mentality is about suffering and not feeling worthy of the good feelings/ the good things because it had started in the kindergarten (and/ or at home), that the kids' feelings were oppressed by not being allowed to express true joy because it had hurt the ears of the teachers.
“A leader must lead. Where others see obstacles, he must see opportunities. When others see problems, he must see possibilities ... Civilization is not built on a negation but on an affirmation- an affirmation of the bright and promising possibilities that the future holds for those who are enterprising enough to pursue them.” David J. Vaughan
Children are vibrational beings and are like sponges who absorb information from their environment. It is important for them to be surrounded by positive, nurturing "leaders" (parents, teachers) who practice conscious living.
"Conscious living is about acting with intention rather than simply acting just to act."
Read this beautiful post on conscious living (hope you don't mind me sharing your post, Dena Joan!)
I know it is a bigger issue to ramble on but I just wanted to share my observation in a nutshell.
What did I like about this volunteership?
Apart from working with children again and smiling a lot, I was also excited to discover another part of Hungary and not just slalom between the capital and my parents' town. It wasn't my plan to stay in the country for so long but now that it happened I took advantage of it. I quite enjoy being in places where I haven't been to before. Due to the coronavirus situation, I continue to choose to stay away from busy cities and look for opportunities in the less crowded, nature-close countryside.
Have you heard of Grounding or Earthing?
"Grounding means connecting to the Earth to support the specific functions of the organs of your body. It supports the body as a whole but it specifically supports organ systems down to the tissues and the cellular function of the entire body." Laura Koniver M. D. physician/ general practitioner
"When we make direct contact with the surface of the Earth, with our bare feet or hands, our bodies receive a charge of energy that makes us feel better, fast." www.earthing .com
To watch The Earthing Movie click here
I have noticed how much better, balanced & energized I feel in nature. Especially during my long trip on the Canaries, where I was mostly barefoot and in everyday contact with the ground (and other natural elements like sand, water, sun, rocks, trees) my body was overall cleaner & lighter and my skin looked healthier. There is definitely something positive going on at a cellular level when the human body is in contact with nature. I never would have thought that the feet could play such a big part in healing and in general well being. The more I read about Earthing and tested my body the more I understood its "magic".
"I think this is why it is so difficult to keep shoes on kids. They innately know they shouldn't be wearing them." Lara Jones
There were a small forest and a thick meadow behind the kindergarten where I escaped almost every day until the rainy season began in October. I went out there for a walk or jogging in the morning before I started to work and practiced Earthing on the weekends when I chose to be outdoor at midday when the temperature was the highest. We still got 23-30 degrees in September. There was so much peace and harmony (and good smell!) in the forest when the sun shined through the green leaves of the trees. I felt at home in it.
Sadly the forest was not well respected by people and many took advantage by leaving their trash behind. It really bothered my eyes. First, I went to pick up the smaller pieces of trash: soda/ beer cans, plastic wraps, packages of chocolate and candies, glass bottles, and then I returned with bigger bags when I saw pieces of damaged electronics and plastic containers. During my trash picking trips, I found many bigger sized glass and plastic pieces, and other unidentified heavy objects that I was not able to dig out or carry with bare hands. I wish I had a car! Or better yet, a truck! I could have easily filled up a truck or two from the waste I saw in the area. I wanted to give back to the forest for making me feel so good but ended up feeling bad that I couldn't remove everything. How come the people, who live here, don't do anything about it?
Green is the colour of balance, harmony and growth.
Green is calming and healing.
My volunteership started with the agreement of staying for a month and with the opportunity to be paid a small amount if I stayed longer. However, after the 6 weeks, I spent here, I only got offered that I could stay for the rest of the year working for free, which was not an ideal deal for me. I also have to focus on making some money because my bank account is near to dry up. I am very happy that I have found this kindergarten but I also feel it is time to move on. I believe that there is a world of opportunities out there where I can continue to grow without having to negotiate my needs.
Thank you for reading.
Until next time ♡