Maria-Cristina Villamrin served in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico.

Alumni story
Maria-Cristina Villamrin Aguas Buenas

I served long time ago. I had just graduated from college when I enrolled. I wanted to serve in the Peace Corps but was referred to VISTA because I was not a citizen at that time. I was assigned to public education to teach ESL but it was not the best choice giving my skills. I had just finished my Master degree in Industrial Arts/Special Ed and was eager to use my training and experience on more needed roles, in town. After much ado, I was finally given authorization to choose a project, or more.

I became a self-appointed itinerant teacher who brought Art, Music, and PE into the local elementary schools. On the days when I had a pickup truck I brought our scant PE equipment and the kids enjoyed some games and outdoor exercise, which they rarely had the opportunity to do. On the days that I didn't have the truck, either someone gave me a ride, or I had to walk about four miles, in the sun, in the meandering hilly road. This meant that the classes offered were Art or music class with very little materials and equipment. No matter! Just seeing the happy little faces and a chorus of voices yelling ‘La tichel, la tichel’ made it worth the effort. There were not enough schools in town for all the children, they had split sessions AM and PM, which meant half of the kids were roaming around for half of the day. Something needed to be done to keep them occupied, out of mischief, and also they needed help and supervision with their homework. 

My two roommates and I started tutoring them and providing recreational activities. It was the birth of 4H Club, run by Judy, Sports group. Den and I started a Rec Center which provided multiple activities for the children, during the day, and for adults during the evening. During the summer we ran an overnight camp, with the help of other volunteers from other towns. There were many more activities to choose from, and so I did.

So little time, so little money, but I not only had the satisfaction of serving with love and pride, but also the memories and learning from this experience. In conclusion, this experience gave me ‘the best job of my life.’ As I approach retirement I have realized that for me to do a better job, and feel fulfilled and happy, money and perks were not the drive. It has been the satisfaction of doing it with love, independently, and being the receiver of the immense appreciation from those whomever I have touched their lives.

 

Decade: Unknown Decade