Irma and Anthony – Photo by (c) Dolly Garland
As most of you probably know, I’m in Ecuador at the moment, volunteering for three months working with children to promote literacy and arts. They are a great bunch of kids, and having been here now for month and a half, I’m getting to know many of them as individuals. You are not supposed to have favourites, but always do anyway. So I have my favourites too.
There is Irma, an 11-year old who was so shy in the beginning that she would just sit by herself and read; if she wanted to ask me something (because curiosity was there already), she would get her 7-year-old brother Anthony to ask it. Now, a month and a half letter, I get several hugs from her everyday. She demands that I sit and read with her, and when I have to go and read with other children too, she pretends to pout. I get made fun of, and then several minutes letter, I get a hug with “mia” (mine).
Anthony, her brother is another favourite. A 7-year-old whose reading skill is astonishing. He is cheeky, smart and sweet. You can see that if he keeps up this way, he’s going to be a very successful young man.
Then there is Maria-José, cute as a button. In fact, to call her a little doll would be just correct. As soon as she walks in, she sits down next to me, no matter where I am. If I am reading with someone else, she gets her books, and waits for her turn.
Isabel, who is a right little madam, does everything she’s not supposed to do, and when you stop her from doing it, she makes puppy-dog eyes at you.
Alany, who is super creative and conscientious.
These are just few of the kids that I’ve become particularly attached to, though there are many more whom I would miss. Yesterday, Irma asked me when I was leaving. When I told her it would be mid-May, she said no don’t go, and then, can I come with you?
Later, I was speaking about that to another volunteer and that I would really miss these kids. She mentioned that having worked with children for the last four years, and having to leave different places, she now does not get attached to kids because it’s too hard to leave. I have not worked with kids for four years, so I can’t make an exact comparison. But it still seems to me that it’s the wrong way to look at things.
Of course it’s hard. And that’s not just because it’s kids. We get attached to other adults too. We make friends, and then move to a different place or a different job. It’s hard. But I think it’s better to get attached, and leave stronger impressions and feelings and memories behind than to remain unattached, and be the person who would be promptly forgotten as soon as they left.
We mostly remember people who make significant enough impression – either positive or negative. These kids are used to seeing bunch of different volunteers, but don’t feel the same way about each of them. Some kids connect more with some volunteers than others. That’s perfectly normal. We are not here to just teach them to read more, or how to use their imagination. We are here to also be a part of their lives for a little while, as they become a part of ours. We are here to get to know them as people, so that we can help them individually. We are here to learn from them too. But most of all, we are here to be their friends and mentors, and you can’t do that if you stay unattached.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY
What is your view on getting attached to people when you are somewhere for a short period of time?
Journal about it, or leave your opinion in the comments below.