Sonya Montgomery – Okinawa

Sonya Montgomery
Okinawa, Bolivia

There are so many wonderful memories of Okinawa- Having a bonfire for all the volunteers at our little house, seeing the sloth with a baby on its back in the neighbor’s tree, wearing rubber boots during the rainy season with all the flooding, having tea and cookies with Ana and sometimes with Father Denis, sharing food ideas with Spencer, having cows, pigs, horses run through our yard. Something funny was how a gigantic toad the size of a football snuck into the house during the rainy season. We weren’t sure quite how to get it out of the house. Eventually, we had Spencer chase it out.

Hometown: Bloomfield, Indiana

Education/Work: Attended Marian College in Indianapolis, have a BA in Spanish

Other volunteer sites: I served as an SLM for Hogar Don Bosco in Santa Cruz, Bolivia four months prior to Okinawa.

Time in Okinawa: February 1996 to November 1996

Living Arrangements: I lived in the Japanese house that faced the open field with two other volunteers Spencer Rickwa and Ana Baez (now Provinsal). The house had a crooked door leaving enough gaps for lots of critters to come visit. Ana and I shared a room and Spencer had the other room for himself until another volunteer came (Patrick Mooney) and they became roommates the last two months of my term.

Teaching: I taught English to Primer Intermedio, Art to Primer Intermedio all through Cuarto Medio for San Francisco Xavier.

Other Activities/Responsibilities: Ana and I taught English on Tuesday evenings to the medical staff at the Japanese Hospital. Ana started a youth group for teens, "Jornada,” and I helped her and gave her lots of support whenever she needed it.

Something New: Father Mike Gould asked if I would paint "Senor De Los Milagros" in La Iglesia de San Francisco Xavier. It was an honor, and occupied a lot of my time when I wasn’t teaching.

Free Time: Things that I enjoyed doing to pass the time was to visit other volunteers, and friends on my off days. I also wrote quite a bit in a journal. There were so many activities that we participated with the students on a regular basis. Festivals, events, and youth group activities kept us pretty busy.

Memories: There are so many wonderful memories of Okinawa- Having a bonfire for all the volunteers at our little house, seeing the sloth with a baby on its back in the neighbor’s tree, wearing rubber boots during the rainy season with all the flooding, having tea and cookies with Ana and sometimes with Father Denis, sharing food ideas with Spencer, having cows, pigs, horses run through our yard. Something funny was how a gigantic toad the size of a football snuck into the house during the rainy season. We weren’t sure quite how to get it out of the house. Eventually, we had Spencer chase it out. It was always a riot how Ana and I would try to exterminate the surplus of spiders, ants, and other unidentifiable bugs in the house. It was fun to see the frogs hang out in the toilet, sinks, or in the corners of the walls. Something embarrassing that comes to mind is in one of my art classes I was trying to explain to the class about creating two designs for an art project, and some how two designs came out of my mouth as "two breasts." My pronunciation was a little off.

Classroom Adventures: A story that comes to mind for me in the classroom, is throughout the very first week of art class when I had asked that everybody draw something from their imagination on a piece of paper. All of the drawings I had received were copies or traced images from their notebook covers or from another picture. It took weeks to try to condition the children to use their imaginations, and to express it on paper. Their upbringing, from my perspective, did not allow the children to be creative, to use or exercise their imaginations. They are constantly trained to learn new skills that would be useful in getting a jobs in the future, and everything must look professional, and without flaws. Something original, something creative does not fit the standards by which they were trained. So by giving the students lots of drawing exercises, in which I would only accept something original, not traced, was my attempt to let these children use their imaginations freely, and to express whatever they wanted to.

Frustrations/Challenges: Frustrations….I came with no teaching background, and so disciplining, and keeping the class interested or occupied was very frustrating for me. This was especially when I was teaching something that was, in their minds, not considered an important skill for potential jobs.

Additional Comments: Volunteering in Bolivia and later other places was the best thing I have ever done, and encourage as many people as I can to go for it. Experience the experience of a lifetime.

Start the Adventure
Do you feel the call to become a Lay Missioner? Click here to learn more...
SLM Blogroll
Recent SLM News