Jennifer Bacevich – Okinawa

Jennifer Bacevich
Okinawa, Bolivia

I just loved the students. Not all the students at all moments, but there were many moments when you saw a connection made or saw an effort made, and it warmed your heart. There are so many nice kids there too. I didn’t appreciate that until I went to work at a Catholic boys’ school here (in the USA).

Hometown: Norwood, Massachusetts

Education/Work: Studied Political Science at Bryn Mawr College.

Time in Okinawa: Served 1998-99 Bolivian academic years.

Fellow Volunteers/Sisters (“Sors”):

Volunteers: 1998 – Angela Hix and Chris D’Agostino

1999 – Shannon Shea, Brian Cull and Chris D’Agostino

Sors: Sor Antonieta, Sor Nancy, Sor Nico, Sor Gera, Sor Carmen, and Sor Marina

Living Arrangements: I lived in the house provided by the Japanese school. At first we had to find someone to cut the grass because there was a problem with animals, so we hired a guy with a machete to do it. Then the second year the Japanese school took care of it. Even with the grass cut we still had enormous spiders and snakes to deal with at certain points.

Teaching: I taught English to 6-10 grades and Computers in the afternoon to 9th grade.

Other Activities/Responsibilities: I taught English at the Japanese hospital.

Free Time: I never read so many books in my life, just out of sheer boredom. I liked to pick fruit as well. With the students I liked to hang out with them at games or at their school events. They like to show the things they know: food they know how to prepare, crafts they know how to make, stories they’ve heard, etc.

Memories: I just loved the students. Not all the students at all moments, but there were many moments when you saw a connection made or saw an effort made, and it warmed your heart. There are so many nice kids there too. I didn’t appreciate that until I went to work at a Catholic boys’ school here (in the USA).

Classroom Adventures: The most embarrassing thing that happened to me was barfing in class one day. Then again, there is no shortage of embarrassing stomach problem stories in Bolivia.

Frustrations/Challenges: There is no privacy in Okinawa. Rumors run rampant. It’s a struggle because it’s such a small town but there’s no time to be alone or anonymous. With my type of personality, I really found this hard. Even in our house, I would sometimes have people (mostly kids) peeping in the window, watching me. I suspect this is not as much of a problem now though.

Cheating by students and grade changing by the administration were among the most frustrating things with the school.