A Place Like No Other by Julia Nord-Leth

9 05 2017

Dear Friends, Family, Alumni Champions and Supporters,

My name is Julia Nord-Leth and this is my first year being a part of this program here in Antigua. Last Tuesday was my first day teaching at Jennings Primary School with my teaching partners Dan Northgraves and Jennifer Gray. When we arrived we were welcomed with so much excitement and kindness from all of the students, as well as the teachers. The students greeted us with hugs, high fives, and plenty of new games that they couldn’t wait to teach to us. I had no idea what to expect or what was going to come from this experience. I have to admit, I was more than a little nervous, but within seconds of walking into my school I knew I was going to fall absolutely in love with this program, which I definitely have.

Each and everyday is entirely different from the last, filled with its own struggles as well as many more absolutely amazing moments. The spirit these students contain and love they show towards us are truly what makes this experience what it is. When I first arrived on the island I felt very uneasy and nervous about teaching students, because it was a completely new thing for me. As the week progressed, I felt significantly more excited to work with these students and improve my personal teaching skills as well as build deep connections with these students and the teachers at Jennings. I have never envisioned myself becoming a teacher or pursuing a teaching career in any way aside from a coaching perspective, but being here and being a part of these students lives has put teaching into an entirely new light for me. Some days can be very difficult, especially when nothing I have planned seems to be working.  At times I have felt very lost, but then suddenly when something does work, the feeling is almost indescribable.  I found it exciting and rewarding when we got to use the lesson plans that we had created at home and watch them in action in a real life classroom setting.  It’s a very satisfying experience watching them actually be successful and seeing the students enjoying it.

Each day on the island comes with new learning opportunities, whether it is from our teaching partners and their teaching styles, the Antiguan teachers, or even our students. The students themselves have given me so many new things to consider in regards to living my life outside of the classroom.  Each student is so incredibly grateful for each thing that we do for them. Something as simple as providing them with a soccer ball to play with at lunch time, and returning it as soon as the bell goes. One thing I noticed is that the children here are truly children and they want to play all the time. There is not the same rush to grow up that we often see at home.

Last Friday we held our first Unity games on the island. Our morning was spent teaching at Golden Grove Primary, and our afternoon took place at Jennings primary the school that I am teaching at. It was definitely a new experience and I had the opportunity to play a different role when we were at my school. It was very exciting for me to have my fellow champions have a taste of what my school days look like, and sharing a few special moments from my time here with them.

On Sunday, all of the champions walked down to the beach on our day off, and when we were down there, we ran into a couple of students who instantly recognized us and couldn’t wait to join our beach volleyball game. It was really fun to see our students outside of the school setting. It’s impossible not to get a good feeling inside when you are surrounded by such youthful exuberance. I might not want to go home …. Who needs washing machines anyway?

Julia Nord-Leth
Jennings Primary


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