Our trip to Barbados was such a humbling, eye-opening experience. I learned how fortunate I am to have so many educational opportunities and support. This trip truly immersed me in the Bajan culture and taught me so many life skills.
While teaching I learned how different the children are from children in the United States. They are extremely polite and have immaculate manners. They always raise their hand to talk, and always answer with “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am”. Although the children at the school were so different then the kids I was used to teaching, we still connected with them so much. During our lessons, there were always laughs, excitement, and occasional dance parties. The kids were just so excited to have the computers and learn about coding. As a teacher this week, it truly warmed my heart.
During this week, I routinely worked with a student who could not read. He was very shy and barely spoke. But, as the week progressed he warmed up to me. He was a very bright and intelligent student, and understood our lessons, he just couldn’t type the codes. Although I wish I could teach him how to read in a week, I know I could not do that. Instead, I was his scribe during the projects and lessons. I then learned that this student suffered a devastating loss in his family, and he’s been very quiet ever since. After learning this, it truly broke my heart. I know I can’t change anything in the past, but I really wanted to be there for him. I gave him a lot of academic support, and gave him many compliments and encouragement. By the end of the week, I really feel like his confidence boosted as a student, and I really got to see his personality come out by the end of the week. Teaching this student was one of the highlights of my trip because he really grew throughout the week.
Other than teaching, I made so many memories with so many of the girls on the trip. I really got to know people that I wouldn’t have at school. After dinner a big group of girls would just go on the porch and make friendship bracelets, listen to music, and just talk. This was just such a great bonding moment with everyone, and brought everyone close together. I also loved going to the beach to tube, jet ski, and swim with everyone. This trip truly formed a “bubble” with all of us and I’m so excited to carry on these friendships into the summer.
This trip truly immersed me into the Bajan culture. As a foodie, I really enjoyed the food, both from Selena and restaurants. I really loved flying fish, rotis, and curry anything throughout our trip. It really let me try many different and unique flavors and let me experience the culture. The people of Barbados also let me experience the culture. The people there are so nice and welcoming. Even driving, everyone you pass will wave and welcome you. They also love to start conversation, where I loved to listen to their stories and the real culture of Barbados.
Overall, I am so sad to leave the students, Barbados, and all of my friends from this trip. The teaching and the free time truly made this trip a blast and so eye-opening. It made me feel so fortunate for what I have, and for having CSG. The memories and experiences I have made over the past 10 days truly will stay with me forever.
How does one pass up a trip to the Caribbean with a group of friends and a cohort of wonderful young ladies? I couldn’t say no to this trip when news came out that an additional chaperone was needed. I didn’t realize then how much this trip would impact my view of CSG, its students, and myself.
Having taught at CSG for four years the amazement I felt during my teaching interview has slowly eroded. I’ll never forget that teaching interview where, in the span of 40 minutes, I was blow away by all the qualities that make CSG students unique. My interview was in a Biology class. Coming from teaching only Honors and Advanced placement Biology in former schools, I underestimated the girls that day. Then, like now, the CSG girls continue to impress and inspire me. Then, like now, they displayed courage, creativity, and flexibility. I find it hard to put into words how being in the midst of CSG girls can generate a small micro-climate of their own making filled with excitement, expectation, encouragement, and most important – acceptance.
That day five years ago when I student taught a class room full of student’s I’d never met, I was very nervous and anxious. Within moments of being surrounded by a classroom full of CSG students I felt so supported, accepted and encouraged it felt like coming home to a warm embrace. To this day it is a bit mystifying how our girls generate this atmosphere but I can still remember their bright eyed attention and could almost feel their encouragement when I awkwardly began teaching a lesson. This trip reminded me of why I fell in love with CSG. In truth it is why the Barbadian children lament and often cry when our girls leave on the last day. The micro-climate they created in those Barbadian classrooms is filled with excitement, expectation, encouragement, and acceptance.
Watching the CSG girls create this atmosphere and see the effect it has on the children reminds me why I fell in love with CSG. The children were drawn in by the positivity of our girls and it brought out the best in the students. Many of them loved the coding aspect but all of them loved the atmosphere of the classroom. Watching this play out in several classrooms, my heart swelled with pride. I’m proud to be a part of the lives of my students and proud to work at CSG. I realized too that over the past four years my own excitement, expectation, encouragement, and acceptance had lost some of its inspiration and shine. I realized I do not tell the girls often enough how amazing they truly are and how proud I am of all that they accomplish throughout the year.
My specific group of CSG girls were faced with a challenging classroom configuration to an ever changing and hectic schedule. They really stepped up and created a fun, meaningful experience for each of the children despite the stress and anxiety that comes with this type of teaching environment. They were quick to adapt, patient with the children and “on-the-fly” changes that popped up everyday. In every way they handled themselves with strength and grace. They were able to accomplish and respond to a situation that even as a veteran teacher would have been challenging. Their reliance, flexibility, fortitude and commitment to see that each child had a positive experience was evident and inspiring for me.
As an educator it is easy for me to get stuck inside my own CSG “bubble” where I continually set high expectations and see the girls rise to meet them year after year. This trip enabled me to set outside this bubble and hear the praises and amazement of other educators about the skills, both social and academic, of our students. They impress wherever they are seen and heard. What a privilege to see them with renewed eyes for their excitement, expectation, encouragement, accomplishment and acceptance. Traveling to Barbados this year brought home that CSG is quite possibly the best place I’ll ever have the privilege to teach in. I will hold this experience in my heart and mind as I begin the next school year. They have challenged me to be my best as well. My goal going into the school year is to not only to take part in the atmosphere of excitement, expectation, encouragement, and acceptance CSG girls generate but to support and encourage this atmosphere myself.
This trip to Barbados has been one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences. Outside of the actual teaching, it was so much fun to explore the different beaches, surf, windsurf, snorkel, ride the catamaran, jet ski, tube, and tour the island. I loved seeing the culture on the different parts of the island while socializing with CSG girls I had never really talked to. It is amazing how spending so much time with new people can create such strong friendships.
Going into the trip, I did not know quite what to expect, as I had no experience teaching Scratch and did not necessarily feel completely familiar with the program. However, I knew that if I reviewed some of the lessons, the material would become more familiar. Being the head student teacher at Gordon Greenidge, I jumped at the opportunity to lead teach the first day. Our group thought that we had overplanned the lesson for sure, but twenty minutes in, we had already completed the entire lesson for the day. We expected more time for questions from the students, but they were extremely reserved and did not want to speak up. Addie and I, at that point, looked at each other in slight panic and decided to open up one of the pre-made Scratch lessons and begin teaching. Though this was done completely on the fly, we managed to successfully engage the kids and introduce them to some basic coding. After the first day, we really recognized the importance for over planning, so we went into the next day with extra material and the time spent per activity completely fleshed out. The next four days of teaching were remarkable. As they got more comfortable with us, the kids opened up and we could easily see that some of them were loving coding. They were always attentive and so polite. They would respond “yes please” to the simplest yes or no question. When they became more familiar with Scratch, one of the best things I saw was kids teaching each other how to do the tasks, and seeing the kids figure things out that I wouldn’t even know how to do. The last day, we asked the students what their favorite part of Scratch was, many of them responded “everything”. This was wonderful to hear, and I hope that we changed their perception of coding and inspired some of them to delve further into it. This trip allowed me to realize how much I like working with kids and definitely showed me the importance of planning and patience. I truly feel so impacted by the amazing children I worked with, and hope that we made just as much as an impact on them.
On this trip, I fell in love with Barbados. The culture, the environment, the people, and most importantly the school and kids. The experience of teaching this kids cannot be compared to anything. Being able to teach the kids, not only the Scratch, but to be proud of themselves and their own intelligence was one of the greatest feelings. I was able to become close with all of the kids, and it is the most heartbreaking thing for this experience to come to an end. I am so truly grateful for this opportunity. When we first came to the school, I was so amazed by the student’s manners and smarts. They were so kind, respectful, and well behaved. They were willing to try new things, and enjoyed learning.
I remember we were playing a drawing game, and a little girl named Ashonté did not have a partner, so I paired up with her. After one round, I had her go into a group of three when she was supposed to explain the drawings, because I knew what they looked like. When it was time for her to draw again, I asked if she wanted to stay in the group of three of be partners again, and she wanted to be partners again. This touched my heart because it was my first connection with one of the kids.
One little boy, Azariah, truly made my heart melt. He had the biggest smile always on his face, no matter what. He was creative and always willing to learn new things.
Kyree was another kid with a lot of personality. He was always dancing and laughing. When we taught him the maze game, he made his maze unbeatable. He was having different people try his maze, and I have actually never seen someone laugh so hard. That same day, Kyree made sure to get pictures with each of us, trying to be a ladies man.
The next day, we taught the kids how to make personality quizzes. They loved this, and everyone went around the room testing each other’s projects. Even the teacher got involved and was trying everyone’s quizzes. On the last day, we had the kids chose a project to recreate; a maze, a personality quiz, or a choose your own story game. They tried to create these with little help, and each one did an amazing job. It was amazing to see what we were able to teach the kids. On the same day, we had to say goodbye to the kids. It was the hardest thing in the world, because I truly will always have a special place for them in my heart. We all took pictures, and they gave us gifts. It was so sad when they asked if I was coming back next week, or if we’d ever see each other again.
This trip has truly taught me so much. I learned to always go with the flow, and I learned that someone else’s happiness can completely cause your own happiness. I learned how to problem solve, and the true meaning and blessing of education. Besides teaching, Barbados is a wonderful place. The people are all so kind and welcoming. The beaches are beautiful, and the people live so simply, but in such happiness. I am so incredibly grateful to have gone on this trip. The kids will always be in my memory, as well as the things they taught me. I hope in the future I can come back to Barbados and see these kids again, as well as find an opportunity, like the one I had here in Barbados, back in Ohio.
I’d like to thank Mrs. Murakami and all of the other teachers, schools, kids, and my fellow students for this experience. It was unforgettable.
Being in Barbados has been a really big eye opener for me because there are so many things I was able to learn. Throughout our time there, we took multiple trips to the beach and I really enjoyed seeing that side of the country. Living in Ohio, we don’t get to experience that and it was really cool to see how different things are. We were also able to go snorkeling, jet skiing, tubing and go exploring in caves and tropical gardens. Every activity we did was so enjoyable and really made the trip that much better. The people in Barbados are all so nice and it amazed me how well-mannered the children were. Just walking the streets, I felt so welcome and invited because everyone had such a big smile on their face. I could tell how much pride these people had for their country. Traveling with the team was one of the best parts of the entire trip. Some of my close friends went but there were also some people in the group who I had never really talked to before and this trip opened up new friendships for me and I’m so thankful for that. The teachers that came with us were so much fun and seeing them outside of school was really cool because they are completely different people.
Being a part of One Laptop per Child has been one of the best experiences I have been a part of. Teaching in Barbados was an amazing opportunity and I’m so thankful I was able to be a part of it. It was such a rewarding feeling to know how much we were helping these kids and I was always excited to teach them and watch them all grow individually. I also learned a lot about myself and how rewarding it actually is to help these children and their community. I didn’t really realize how much patience I had and I didn’t realized how hard teaching actually is. After each 3 hour lesson, I was so tired and all I really wanted to do was take a nap. I felt so good after each teaching lesson though because I could tell how much of a difference I was making in their lives. Some of the kids were familiar with coding and other kids had never seen or heard about it before. Our school in particular, focused on literature and we were easily able to include that in our Scratch lessons. We made it a goal to have each of the kids create their own stories using different concepts from Scratch to make everything connect together. The kids we had in class got really into their project and I realized how smart and creative they all are. Being in this teaching environment allowed me to realize how lucky I am for the school and education I have been provided with. Some days I don’t even think about how lucky I am but this trip really made me realize how thankful I should be. Overall, going to Barbados was an experience of a lifetime and I’m so glad I was able to educate our future leaders in such an amazing place.
Teaching a second time in Barbados was even more awesome than the first. This year we taught kids who were 10 and 11 so it was better because they were older and caught on quicker. This year we also had 3 hours to teach so we got through a lot of material because we had so much extra time. Another difference that I noticed this year was how involved and excited some of the teachers were. Our main teacher, Tara, was so energetic and excited every day we came and even wanted us to teach her what we were teaching the kids. She was also passionate about continuing teaching Scratch to the kids after we left and even wanted to try and start teaching kids who were younger. This energy and positive attitude showed the kids that this was something really cool and made them excited to learn it.
This year it was also evident that the Barbados education system is different than ours in the US. For example on the first day we were supposed to teach they actually cancelled school because the night before they had an election so they made the next day a holiday. This was unfortunate because we didn’t have as much time to teach the kids but was cool to see how their culture worked. Another difference was how the kids missed school for sports. It was also different how for the last few weeks of school the teachers had no curriculum so they basically got to choose whatever they wanted to teach. Compared to last year, this school was a little less strict than the one we visited last year which made it a little easier to help the kids be more creative and open.
While this trip overall was definitely a positive experience there was a low point which was missing the first day of school. That was disappointing because when we did start it felt rushed and not as personal because we had less time however because we had 3 hours this didn’t really affect how much the kids learned. A high point of the trip was when we were teaching the kids how to make a quiz. We taught them how to write a quiz and had them choose questions that were about themselves like what was their favorite color. This turned out to be their favorite activity because they loved taking each other's quizzes and also turned out to be my favorite because I not only got to know the kids better but also saw them genuinely having fun while learning how to code. This year was another fulfilling year we got through 3 different projects and even had an extra day to let the kids see if they could do any of them on their own (which they could). All the kids were so excited to learn every day that we came and it made it so worth it coming here and teaching again. I learned that while you are there to teach the kids and help them see that coding is fun, you can also benefit from listening and learning from the kids so it's sometimes better to let them teach you. Overall this trip was another amazing opportunity and I can't wait to see what happens with OLPC in the future!
The week has gone by so fast. Today was our last day at Gordon Greenidge and we had a special guest speaker, Ari Green, come talk to the kids. As sad as the girls were to leave, they were really very happy and content with the progress they made in each of our two class sessions and many were very excited to hear a young Bajan woman talk about her work as a programmer/coder for video games. One of the biggest take aways I have from this week was simply how open the kids were to our girls and learning something completely out of their wheel house. The same can also be said about our girls- they were initially a little anxious going into the week but as they soon found out, teaching is a little bit knowing the content, a little bit planning the lesson plan for the day and a whole lot of patience and flexibility.
As we prepare to head home tomorrow, I hope each day’s experiences here won’t get lost in the midst of the everyday back to daily grind stuff in Columbus. I hope the compassion, empathy and patience the girls fostered while here in this country continues and travels with them through their years at CSG and beyond.
This trip to Barbados has been one I know I will never forget. My teaching group was at Welches Primary School and the kids were precious. From the first day they were so excited. We taught them the maze, quiz, and choose your own adventure game. It was amazing to see their faces light up when they did something correctly. They also loved to share their projects with each other, they would constantly be playing each other’s mazes or quizzes and they would almost always come up to one of us and ask us if we would look at and play their game. Once they got more comfortable with Scratch itself, they helped their table mates if they saw one struggling and this was something that I thought was really amazing. They wouldn't do it for their partner but they would truly help them understand how to do it for themselves next time. The atmosphere of the school is very different from what I am used to. The kids were extremely well behaved and obedient, when we were talking they were always attentive. The motto of the trip was “be prepared for anything”, and there were definitely moments when we had to be. We made teaching plans that had to be adjusted and on the first day we didn’t teach at all due to the fact that there had been an election and it was declared a holiday so there was no school. This trip was so rewarding and I have learned a lot about myself and about Barbados as a whole. I loved teaching the kids and it was something I would love to do again. I am sad that this trip has come to a close but am forever grateful to have had the experiences I have had here.
My trip to Barbados has been one that I will remember for the rest of my life. This once in a lifetime opportunity has been an incredible experience and a chance to open up, meet new people, and also to immerse myself in a culture other than my own. On our first planned teaching day we were surprised with a day off due to the recent election. To take advantage of the free time, we went to the beach for the first time. I will never forget my amazement as I saw the clear blue water. This was the beginning a trip filled with new experiences.
On Monday we returned to our school – West Terrace Primary – and were surprised once again: all of our class four students were out getting their shots. This meant that we really had to take advantage of the next four, rather than six, days we had with them. I never imagined that I could form such strong bonds with these wonderful children in just four days, but I did. The children here in Barbados are the most polite people I have ever met in my entire life. From the first day, they filled my heart with such joy and I know that I will never forget them. Their intelligence, respect for others, and willingness to learn made it easy for me to wake up every morning and see their adorable faces. Teaching Scratch to the students was not easy, but they were all so eager to listen and learn that it made it fun and easier than expected. During the past four days, the kids have taught me almost as much as I have taught them: some of this had to do with Scratch and some didn’t. They taught me that kindness, politeness, respect, and a love for learning are still prominent in our world and they also taught me about the importance of these things. I may have come to Barbados mostly excited about the beach, but I definitely left being more excited about the culture and the kids. I will never forget these wonderful kids and everything they have taught me. I am extremely thankful to have experienced this trip with the CSG OLPC crew.
Heading into this trip, I, as well as many others, didn’t really know what to expect and only had the pictures and stories of last year’s trip to prepare ourselves for the 10 amazing days that were in store. Lucky for us, we got a long, 4-day weekend and got to see tons of the island, which is truly a beautiful place.
One of the very first things that the group as a whole noticed is that everyone here is so nice. People always have a smile on their face and never fail to return a wave when you’re passing each other on the road or the beach. Jet skiing and tubing only added to the fun and it was cool to hang out with people from CSG who I normally wouldn’t get the chance to hang out with. Barbados is a beautiful country and the people in it are wonderful, and I am so fortunate to have had the chance to come here and experience life in a different way.
However, teaching at West Terrace Primary School and building relationships with all of the students is a whole other experience that I have never had before, I likely won’t get to again for a while. While our week started with school canceled on Friday, we were ready to start again on Monday, but Monday turned to Tuesday and it just meant another day that we had to wait to meet the kids that would soon mean so much to all of us. It was a learning experience for everyone, both the kids and the teachers, and each day meant a new challenge that Julia, Hattie, Zoe and I found our way around. The group meetings every night gave us all a chance to hear stories from all 3 schools, and opened ideas to teaching methods that we could take back to our own schools as well. Being told by supervisors and teachers that you’re a great teacher gives you the greatest sense of pride and showed me how much what we do matters.
As the week went on and the kids learned more and more, you could see their excitement to code grow. Instead of raising their hands to ask questions, they raised their hands to show you their projects. And sometimes, if you were lucky, your name showed up in their projects too. Seeing their faces light up when you tell them you loved what they were doing or when they finally understood something was the best thing in the world.
The last day meant goodbyes and we were warned that they would be hard, and I definitely should have taken those warnings more seriously. Building relationships and becoming so close with everyone was amazing and I wish we could stay longer and have more fun with all the kids. Having to leave just as soon as you get close is heartbreaking and the goodbyes on the last day were more than hard. At one point, when Haley, Zoe and others were getting attacked by hugs and signing papers for the kids who wanted our “autographs”, a little boy came up to me, hugged me, and said “I just don’t want you guys to leave.” That’s when I realized that what we did in Barbados is truly life changing. We opened the door to so many young children and I won’t ever forget their adorable smiles and determined minds. Some days, I thought to myself how I couldn’t wait to get in bed because it had been such a long day, but now, as the 10 days are done, our time wasn’t nearly enough.