Edith Duggan is a Practical English for Success (PES) volunteer serving in a pueblo in Sucre, Colombia.
In a world where everything is big, some of the best things come little. One of the greatest things that has inspired me and made me happy in Colombia is actually something small. Most of the laughs, Spanish lessons, dance classes, playtime, and love have come from local children. I have some of my favorite moments with little kids in my neighborhood. The funny things that little kids say to me and the times they play in my room have brought me so much joy in low moments. This has been a significant mood-lifter for me. When I get back home after traveling with fellow volunteers and I am feeling slightly down, one of these little kids will run up to me shouting, “Ediiiiiit, donde estaba!?” and I remember how thankful I am for their presence. Most of the time they just use me to play with my toys, which is why every time I go home or have someone visit, I buy more American toys for them to play with. This way, they stay interested in playing in my room and keeping me company.
Last week, I went to participate in a Zumba class led by my friend Alex in our neighborhood, and no one showed up. Alex and I decided to dance on our own to blasting music, and a bunch of the neighborhood children joined in (our most dedicated audience). They didn’t care what type of exercises we led or what they looked like dancing. They had a blast just being present in that moment and having fun. Children aren’t picky and they don’t judge. They don’t need much to be satisfied. They jump and dance with a huge smile on their face with no worries in the world.
At home I was never around kids often. There are no little kids in my family, nor did I have neighbors that are children. I have babysat once or twice in the past, but have never had the opportunity to get really close to children as I have here. Here it seems like it is a part of the culture to include children in everything. I’m impressed when I see sixteen-year-olds spend free time playing with kids in the neighborhood and taking care of babies. The way that community members include children in everything is a beautiful thing.
I never realized how much fun I’d have and how much I could learn playing with little kids. I’m grateful for all the things they’ve taught me. They make me smile and laugh and feel light again, especially when I’m having a hard time. They’re so genuine and honest. They don’t know how to worry about what other people think, and they don’t know how to worry about tomorrow. They don’t know how to overthink things. They just live in the moment, and as adults we have a lot to learn from that. Colombia’s smallest gifts have given me my biggest gratitude.