New Life Christian School kicked off the 2021 school year on January 18th. For a short period of time at the end of 2020, Villa Nueva was "in the orange and out of the red," which meant we weren't in the worst risk-of-infection rating. This would have allowed us to offer classes in person.
Unfortunately, as the number of cases of COVID-19 climbed throughout Guatemala, our rating went back to red, and our plans shifted to providing online classes in the school and receiving them at the children's home.
Of course, online classes create unique challenges; for the students, for the IT folks, and for teachers. We asked Tara Goodloe Fuentes
, NLAI missionary and English teacher, to give us her perspective by answering a few questions.
Q: Let's talk vision before we talk challenges; how does New Life Christian School fit into the overall ministry goals of NLAI?
A: Our School is a practical way to introduce and reinforce the gospel with both words and actions. Apart from educating children, the classroom (or Google Meet call) provides an opportunity to pray for them, talk about Jesus with them as well as be agents of hope, grace, and love; three things that some students may not experience at home. We get the honor of being a formative part of Guatemala's future, both spiritually and intellectually!
Q: What lessons have you learned as a missionary going into your second year of teaching?
A: I have learned how to mute children on Google Meet calls at lightning speed and make sock puppets. All jokes aside, I've learned that not all kids are going to care about English (or school) as much as I want them to, and that makes teaching a real challenge because I can't control their will. But I can rely on God to help me show patience and love, even if I really really think they should care more about learning.
Q: What brings you the most joy as you teach the children of Villa Nueva?
A: I love using breakout rooms to let my students practice conversation! During class, kids are paired up in their own breakout room to practice what we've just learned in class. For example, asking and answering questions like, "Do you have a pet?" I get to jump around from pair to pair and eavesdrop. To see the students succeeding and having fun with English has been THE BEST!