Volunteering (at a language school, and elsewhere)

IMG_0985 blackboard

Volunteering is good for the soul, and for one’s mental health. It also helps build community, which is a longstanding project for me. Some of my motivation stems from a book I read many years ago: The Ugly American, which showed me how to be a better traveler. I have a definition of community as church. The original concept is Greek, and comes from polity rather than worship. Love of neighbor is not merely conceptual, but requires participation; and I don’t sit in pews anymore, but it still needs an arena: community. 

I volunteer three days each week while in Merida, and one day per week up north. For several winters (although they are more summery here than the summers in western NY state) I have spent a day each Tuesday working the desk at Merida English Library, attending to needs of the expat community here. Monday evenings and Wednesday evenings I spend with Meridano students at a local language school, mostly helping them with pronunciation, but gleaning some small improvements in my own ability to speak Spanish. (I speak like a three- or four-year old child, with a large vocabulary.) While up north, I conduct a stealth ethics course at a local prison disguised as a nondenominational Bible study. In all cases above I attempt to rock the house by stimulating thought.

Last night was my last class meeting of the season at Academia Municipal de Ingles. So I attended two parties, as I teach two classes. (Several of Monday’s students came to school on Wednesday for the second party.) To illustrate the challenge of subtlety with language, a staff person came into the classroom to tell me in Spanish that there would be some conviviality after class. But what I heard instead of convivio was con video. And I was dumbfounded by this confusing mention of what sounded like video production. But a good time was had by all, as perhaps may be noticed in the fotos below.


Maestra Silvia (standing) with students

Maestra Silvia (standing) with students



                                                                                              Easter egg by Gabby





5 thoughts on “Volunteering (at a language school, and elsewhere)

  1. In case you haven’t seen this post (or seen it on TV), I’d like to share this with you and your readers: There is now recent hard-research evidence to support your thesis that volunteering, “giving” etc., is beneficial to our health. (I hope the link below is “clickable”.)


    As well, I really like your entry of the mask combined with the fallen Easter Egg. I have thought about it several times, and the presume that you made a collage of some sort. Very beautiful indeed. I myself have a similar mask, but not treated as creatively as yours is. (Mine is also slowly suffering from heat-stroke.)

  2. Actually, Alinde, the egg is nestled in one of those Chiapas mushroom hats, and the masks (the wooden one, also from Chiapas) are hanging on the wall, so if anyone peeks in thru our mail slot, that is what the see. ~eric.

  3. Thanks for that clarification, Eric. I’d not seen the Chiapas mushroom hats before.
    Mail slot take very nice as well. I wish I could return to Chiapas, but ….

  4. Hi, Erick, I`m Martín from english classes. Good blog and photographies. Greetings from the white Mérida.

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