This blog entry is an excerpt of one student’s responses during an interview conducted in August of 2012 with twelve female students in Natik’s Secondary School Scholarship Program. The interview took place in the Puerta Abierta library, a shared space for a community library, preschool and teen meeting room, and was conducted by Anita Smart, Roisin Duffy-Gideon, and Brooke Pike.
Q: Why do you like to go to school?
Mileivy: [Going to school,] we get to spend time with our classmates, we learn a lot from our teachers, and they help us to grow.
Q: Do you enjoy your schoolwork?
Mileivy: Yes. I am studying to be a teacher. [I have a favorite teacher] and his class is not so formal, but instead more human. We like how he treats us.
Q: Where do you do the service that is required for your scholarship?
Mileivy: [I often do] an hour of service at school or at the mobile library that goes to other classes. Sometimes I come here [to help younger children with homework after school]. I help the children when they need help and help the teachers with what they do.
Q: If you did not have the opportunity to be in high school, what would you be doing instead?
Mileivy: We girls would be working in our homes because we are women and that’s what women do here. That is more or less what our custom is; what a woman does is look after the house.
Q: What does your family think of your studying?
Mileivy: The person who has supported me the most is my mother. Her mother did not want her to continue studying because she was a woman. My mother has always supported me. My father does not support me much because he says that there is not enough money [to pay for school]. My grandparents do not support my education either. I’ve always had motivation to study. Initially, I wanted to choose another track, but I like studying this teaching because working with children is wonderful. They are so caring.
Q: Have any of your family members finished high school?
Mileivy: My aunt did finish. I think two of my cousins have. On my father’s side, though, no one has.
Q: What do you do if you cannot figure out your homework? Who can you ask for help?
Mileivy: When we come here, the teachers help us.
Q: What do you do outside of school?
Mileivy: We work in the house. Embroidery is a lot of work, though, and it’s not well paid.
Q: How do you feel when you come here to the library to help the younger students?
Mileivy: Wonderful, because a child needs motivation and support to understand. It’s good to help them so that they begin to feel like they can do things on their own.
Q: Do you remember your first day of school?
Mileivy: I always wanted to study in the school, ever since I was little. [When I first went to primary school,] I wanted to go, but I didn’t know anyone so I got scared and started to cry. I liked school, but I remember my first good friend was a little rebellious and I was much more calm. She was very shy, and we were very similar, but we told a lot of jokes.
Q: What would you say to someone funding the scholarship program?
Mileivy: I would tell someone that studying is very important for me. In my personal life it has served as motivation because there are a lot of problems in my home and studying has given me a distraction. I can have fun with my friends at school. It is motivation for me. I worry a lot about my younger siblings; I want someone to support them. I don’t want them to lack education and become negative people. Learning is not just academic; it also takes place in your heart. Our teacher Mario tells us, if you are very worried because of your problems, but your problems have solutions, stop worrying!
Some parents don’t let their children study because they think it is a waste of time when they could be working instead. Parents also need to be convinced that studying is good. They have to look at their own situation and see that they are not doing very well, their jobs do not pay well, they have to travel a long way to work and only get paid a little. They have to look at how the situation really is. [Studying] costs a little at first, but later someone who studies can get a better job.