During my summer of ’09, I had the great opportunity to go to Hawaii and work with a preschool. I hopped on the plane very early on August 10th, and in the matter of 12 hours, excluding the two layovers, I was in the Aloha state. If being served a minimum amount of dry roasted peanuts and being next to a baby for 8 hours could not bring my body down, nothing could. My mind, however, was deeply affected. The jet lag was not bad; I just was really confused with the time change. But the only thing I had in my mind was that I was to start working early the next day. To clarify, I went to Hawaii, from RI, to work. It’s a bit extreme as I think about it but it was well worth the trip. So I stayed in Honolulu (Hawaii Ki) from August 10th, to the 27th. The reason why I flew 6,000 miles away was to volunteer at my aunt’s preschool. Although it is located off a highway, it’s a very established place. Most of the students’ parents are lawyers, doctors, teachers, and businessman.The preschool is actually a very elite and expensive education facility. In the class that I helped with, there were 20 four-year olds. Being in a whole new environment was very interesting to me. When I went outside at the playground area, all of the children were Hawaiian or part. There was only two other Caucasian girls, but they ran away from me when I said Hi. So here, I am, one of the four Caucasian people, knowing nothing, and I cannot even speak Hawaiian. The language of Hawaiian is a very difficult one to master. My cousin, brought up in Hawaii, had a difficult time learning the language in school. It only consisted of 12 letters; A, E,I,O,U,H,L,M,N,O,P,W. Little children normally are hard to understand, but all of the ones I helped out with had Hawaiian accents. The teachers where all very pleasant and welcoming, which was a nice feel. Apparently, mainland residents, especially New England, are very cold and not very friendly. So, with the fact that I am the minority, cannot speak their language or lingo, and I am a cold individual, I am at a very strange position.
I very much enjoyed my stay there because the little students where very refreshing and although sometimes four-year olds do not bring out the best in a 17-year-old girl who traveled over 6,000 miles for summer vacation, they challenged me with being responsible and patient. Being in Hawaii was somewhat of a culture shock, with the lauah, the food and everyone being so friendly. Most of the children in Hawaii were typical four-year olds; not listening, refusing orders, and not being fair to others. My job was to help the teachers out and see what the children could make of the situation, if not too intense for me to handle. Most of the things I dealt with were when a girl was crying because her best friend told her she was not her friend anymore. For a 17 year old, I thought, Wow, I never knew there was so much drama with four-year olds. But after that happened, I counseled her, and we ended up playing Lego’s together, making it all better. This very experience helped me understand that although they are young, preschoolers need interaction with older people. And to be able to work with such a young age group, there needs to be understanding, patience, compassion, and most importantly, assertiveness. Assertiveness is the key while working with this age group. If they do not listen now to simple and clear directions, what will happen down the road?