I had the amazing opportunity to teach English to a third-grade class at the Mahagandayon Monastery in Amarapura, Myanmar, not far from my dad's hometown. In Myanmar, tuition has to be paid if the children go to public school, so the families who cannot afford the full price send their children to orphan schools in order to receive an education. These children have only the bare necessities, but their smiles never fade. They happily helped me carry the teaching materials up to their classroom and helped clean up the classroom before leaving.
The students have one or two pencils each, and only a few carry around notebooks. The classroom has open windows and the weather outside can reach the high nineties, so the classroom is supplied with fans - fans that stay on during the class and do nothing but churn the hot air. Despite all of these distractors, The children stayed engaged with the topic while half of my mind was distracted by the fact that I was sweating through my long-sleeved shirt and longyi.
Their environment was limited, but they loved learning. They devoured every piece of information from my lessons and applied it even when class was over. After class was over on the third day of teaching, one of my students came up to me (Let's call him Steve). Steve looked up at me with HUGE DOE LIKE EYES I'M NOT KIDDING GUYS and he asked, "My name is?" I was a little confused until I realized he was trying to ask me what my name was. I told him, and Steve broke out into a huge smile, proud of his newly learned skill. My heart melted.
After teaching, my uncle took my dad, my brother and I to a restaurant near U Bein Bridge, just a couple minutes away from the monastery. We chatted, ate, and sipped Coke in the slight breeze. While we talked, I saw a student, not one of mine, walk around with necklaces of flowers wrapped around her arm. As we stayed, more and more children came around, selling little trinkets. None of them were my students, but I recognized the color of the longyi as the uniform from the monastery. These children sold items after a long school day to help with their family income - and they were elementary school aged!
This fundraiser will help the children improve their learning ability by getting rid of small distractions, like a lack of pencils or paper. No child should be robbed of a chance to satisfy their curiosity about the world, and the proceeds will go to them to make sure they never lose their love of learning. Every little bit helps! It is not necessary to donate a hundred dollars (even though that would be very commendable!!), and even just a couple dollars will help tremendously. Even if you feel like donating a few dollars will only create a ripple of change, the same few dollars will bring a tidal wave of new opportunities for the children of the orphan school.
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