Connecting the Dots

Aimann Lou Balatayo, GCELE Jamaica 2016

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“Children close their ears to advice but open their eyes to example.” – Author Unknown

Being one of the volunteers at the Power to Be International camp has challenged me in multiple ways – from how I express and compose myself in front of my peers and in front of the children, to how I view myself, an engineering technology student, in the grand scheme of global events. However, one of the greatest challenges I faced was getting a child to write their own name.

Out of the many wonderful and lovable children that surrounded me over the course of five days, there was one who stuck out – due to him being present on the first and last days only. He was particularly quiet, and trying to get him to do the morning exercises was a task all in itself. This was not due to any animosity or disinterest on his behalf – rather, he did not grasp writing with the same strength or aptitude as his peers.

During an exercise in having the students write their name in Braille, every attempt for him to write his own name resulted in large scribbles. No advice I would have given would have helped him any better. Not to be set back, I found myself idly poking at the paper with a marker, leaving large dots in the page. Taking a moment to pause, an idea ground to life in my head.

Asking to borrow his sheet for a moment, I took a pencil, and began to draw large dots on the page, all in the shape of the letters composing his name. Giving him the pencil, I asked him to connect the dots. Surely enough, he connected the dots together, before staring at the paper in bewilderment and amazement. Although it was messy, he still managed to write his own name. Rewards in the form of hi-fives and cookies followed, and the smile on my own face was eclipsed by his own wide-toothed grin.

I entered Negril, thinking I would be teaching children – in the end, I found that while I guided and taught them, they also molded me and taught me aspects of myself that I would have never unearthed.

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