Fully Immersed

Adelina’s* mom took in the area around her. The palapa where she learns alongside other parents, the playground where her children play freely, and she felt peace. She felt a safety she’d not experienced before, because she knew her children also felt safe.

When Back2Back staff first met Adelina, she was extremely backward. When she started public school, her teachers believed she didn’t know how to read, write, or speak. She often looked sad, and this made social interactions with those outside her family difficult and minimal. 

When she started programming at a Back2Back community center, teachers, social workers, and her family alike saw Adelina go from reserved to engaged. However, she immediately reverted back to the silent girl when she went to school each day; it was too much for her. She felt significant pressure to assume roles for her classmates and teachers.

Recently, a site-ran school was opened, implementing a teaching style called Reggio Emilia. This educational philosophy and approach focuses on primary education, is student-centered, and self-guided. The curriculum uses self-directed experiential learning in relationship-driven environments and is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration, discovery, and play. The aim of Reggio Emilia is to teach children how to use the “hundreds of languages” through which they can express their ideas such as painting, sculpting, and drama in everyday life. When staff shared with Adalina’s mom about the school and unique teaching approach, she knew it would be a perfect opportunity for her daughter. 

“When I first saw the classroom spaces and the materials the children would have access to each day, I immediately imagined Adelina enjoying herself, being fully immersed in this opportunity,” her mom shared. And that is exactly what happened for the young girl. Adelina is growing more comfortable and confident to express herself, she enjoys going to school every day, and overall she is a happier little girl.

Adelina’s teachers and family observe her playing and learning alongside peers, recalling the little girl whose teachers claimed was illiterate and too quiet and now, all they see is blossoming. Her mother knows she still has much to learn, but they feel mutual excitement that she is in a space she feels safe, free, and loved. Adelina is present; she is happy; she is growing. At the end of every day, it is the best we can hope for.