It was a beautiful springtime morning in southeast Washington in 2013 when Heather and I met at one of the local libraries. I had been to Copey, Costa Rica in January and had returned home committed to help the Learning Center achieve its education mission. The Learning Center could use lots of children’s books and the local library had just announced a huge children’s book sale. My friend Heather had begun to share my enthusiasm and passion for the Learning Center and agreed to join me at the library to help select and purchase appropriate children’s books.
Unexpectedly, Heather’s daughter, Hailey, joined us at the library. Hailey had recently graduated from Washington State University and was working as a substitute teacher in local elementary schools. However, on this day she was not called in to teach and was available to help her mother gather books. As we loaded over 70 children’s books into the trunk of my car, Hailey asked me about my plans for these children’s books. I shared the story of my visit to the Learning Center and my original plan to volunteer as a teacher. She listened intently about my final decision to help gather resources from home to help the Learning Center instead of volunteering as a teacher. It was at that moment, standing there with my car trunk open full of children’s books heading to the Learning Center, when Hailey expressed her interest to be a volunteer teacher.
On her one year anniversary, I asked her to share some of her thoughts about this experience. Heather says,
“It was one year ago today that I left home for beautiful Copey, Costa Rica. There I would be teaching English for three months while living with a host family.
Teaching English in a foreign country has enriched my skills vastly. I live in an area with a huge population of ESL (English as a Second Language) and ELL (English Language Learner) students.
Being in a foreign country where I barely spoke the language has given me a new perspective. When I plan lessons with ESL and ELL students in mind, I think about ways to teach that would have helped me while learning Spanish in Costa Rica. Not only was teaching in Copey a unique experience, but living there also. While staying with my host family I got a feel for their culture. What a warm place to be! Everyone is so friendly, even when you are completely butchering their language! I highly recommend this experience for anyone who has the opportunity.
Hailey’s decision to volunteer was truly an extraordinary decision which brought on significant professional and personal challenges. She survived! The “Friends of Copey” feel very indebted to her for representing us and she was named the first “Key Friend” among the “Friends of Copey” for her significant contribution to the Learning Center. She has been hired full time and will have her own third grade class when school opens in a few weeks. Congratulations and thank you Hailey!
Read more about Hailey by clicking on Key Friends button on the Menu above.