Friday, March 17, 2017

My new students...Teaching at the Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende!

Through my work with Casita Linda, I met John and Max with the Escuela de Educación Especial de San Miguel de Allende. The school primarily focuses on Deaf Children, and provides an essential service in an area where there are few resources available to children with special needs. They were delivering furniture to an
Housewarming Party at one of the Casita Linda homes, and I started up a chat with John. In his charming Scottish lilt, John explained that one of the skills the school teaches is woodworking and the students had built the furniture they were delivering. As I have a fair bit of experience in that area, he invited me to drop by the school, check out the program, and see if I would be interested in volunteering as a teacher.

We arrived just as lunch was being served, and were invited to join the students and faculty for lunch in their small but well equipped cafeteria. The students, all of whom are deaf to one degree or another, welcomed us with big smiles and a variety of hand signs, none of which I understood. I do not know sign language, and found out later that while the sign language used in Mexico is similar in many respects to that used in the US, it is indeed its own dialect with its own unique signs. In spite of that, it was easy to understand they were joking, laughing, and flirting with each other throughout the meal and I quickly began to feel more comfortable being with these delightful students.

It is hard for us to understand how difficult it is to be deaf, let alone deaf in a country that is not as well equipped to deal with it. The school system here is largely unprepared to teach deaf children, and for the families it can be just another burden to an already difficult life. The school was established to give students a far greater chance at becoming productive and happy adults, and offers training in not only a variety of skills such as jewelry, sewing, and woodworking, but sign language, general education, and computers as well. John tells me that when many of the students first arrive at the school they are often shy, withdrawn, unhappy, and socially inept. The school has had a great deal of success at bringing them out of their shell, improving their interaction with other people, and teaching them a variety of skills to help them in the outside world. In addition, the school offers parents and family members training in Mexican Sign Language to help them interact with their deaf children and siblings.

After lunch, we were given a tour of the school, and I was impressed with the quality of the equipment, the cleanliness of the classrooms, and the high level of activity going on. The wood shop itself was extremely well-equipped, and the small group of boys gathered there welcomed me with the “San Miguel Bump”, a common style of greeting here in the city. I also got to meet a few of the teachers who were on staff that day, and felt instantly welcome to join their ranks. It was easy to make a decision to help the school and to hopefully improve the lives of the students. I told John I would let him know my schedule and be back to teach next week!

Click on any picture to view the gallery! 

Next- Teaching students to run dangerous power equipment is challenging. Teaching DEAF students is a whole new ball game!

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