October 24, 2016 | What started as a tutoring gig has turned into a lovely friendship with the Santiago family.
Elena is a 6th-grade teacher at my primary school, José Calvo Sotelo. She’s pictured above, surrounded by birthday cake and an entourage of neighborhood friends.
Throughout the school week, I spend 7 out of 16 class hours with her, and after the first week of school, she asked if I’d be available for a tutoring opportunity. I would be teaching her 10-year-old son and his friend on Mondays and Wednesdays. I’ve been so happy that I accepted the offer, as these tutoring sessions have been a highlight of each week! Elena’s son and his friend (both named Ignacio) are eager learners who love tongue twisters, funny songs, Kid President, and anything to do with technology. Elena is intent upon improving her English, as well, so we’ve created a Google Doc where I jot down corrections to any mistakes she makes.
Over the past month, Elena and I have enjoyed getting creative with our 6th graders in the classroom, and I’ve been joining her and some fellow teachers at off-campus lunch on Fridays. Her birthday fell on a Monday this year, and she invited me to come over and have some cake before starting the tutoring session that night. Little did I know that I would be part of her actual bday fiesta! When the time came, Elena’s family, friends, and I all packed ourselves into the kitchen and sang Feliz Cumpleaños to her as loudly as possible. When the song ended, she blew out her candles with the help of several enthusiastic children.
Needless to say, I felt so touched to be included in the festivities. As I helped light the candles, corral the kids, and serenade the birthday girl, I felt like a member of the family. And to top it all off, the cake was AMAZING. Elena had warned me that it would be over-the-top delicious, but I was underprepared. Best dulce de leche cake in the world. See for yourself in the photo below!