Dear Family, Friends and Followers of the Champions Program,
My name is Tsandlia Van Ry, and this is my first year as a Champion on the island of Antigua. Our first few days on the island have been fast paced and a learning curve. The preparation for our trip has been extensive, and we have been working together as a team to get to this point. Lesson plans, meetings, team bonding, experiential learning, daydreaming and everything else in between. But it never felt like it was really happening, until we were in the plane and the crystal blue water came into sight and we began our descent. The feelings of happiness, excitement, anticipation and the unknowing was overwhelming. Tears welled in my eyes as I thought about this incredible journey that I was about to embark on and all the amazing students I was about to meet.
Myself and my teaching partners began our first day of teaching yesterday at Adele and Victory center. As a first year I did not know what to expect, but I knew I was excited to begin learning from the teachers at each school. We were greeted immediately by all of the students, who remembered Teacher Karen from last year and recognized our program outfit. I could see the happiness in their eyes as they remembered all the experiences that they had last year with previous student teachers. Along the wall, painted by the basketball court, it read “We are all Champions.” As I read the sign, I imagined all of the past Champions that have come before me, and I imagined how they were feeling on their first few day as Champions. We all feel this mixture of excitement and nervousness that pushes us to be better and put our hearts and soul into teaching. It was amazing to see that footprint from past Champions. The students were eager to meet me, and began asking us when we were going to have PE and start learning. I was immediately ready to start teaching and learning about each and every student. We met with the principal Mrs. Charles who told us that we would actually spend the day celebrating her retirement. The entire school was set up to have a gathering in her honour, and each student was wearing a shirt specifically for Mrs. Charles. The love that was in the air was unmistakeable and each student was spending the morning dancing, and singing. I could not have imagined a better way to start this experience.
Today was day 2, and we jumped right into a full day of teaching. We were able to teach 3 blocks of PE and one block of Health at Adele, and another 2 blocks at Victory. It was an amazing feeling to finally be able to bring our skills to the classes and teach. We started to observe our students making improvements, laughing, and most importantly having fun. The teachings we bring to our classes are reflected in the experiences of the students, and we got to see that today for the first time. This is what we have been practicing for.
Before coming to the island, I imagined the feelings that would be circulating but could only imagine the love that I would be giving. Once here on the island, you truly learn what it means to make change and receive love. Every one of our days on the island is filled with experiences that change not only our lives, but the lives of our students. Every choice we make throughout the day impacts the people around us, and it’s up to us to make that impact positive by rooting our teachings with the intent to make positive change.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they must be felt with the heart
– Helen Keller
Tsandlia Van Ry