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The Most Wonderful Year of My LIfe

As a youth volunteer I had to do all kinds of activities, some of them kind of difficult, at least for me.

By: Carolina Ruocco

When I look back I can really say that the past year and a half has been the most wonderful year of my life. I started my journey traveling to the awesome and far away Down Under, Australia. I served as a Youth volunteer in a loving church and I had great kids. We got to love each other very quickly. We really enjoyed the time we spent together, it was so nice to see them talk about Jesus when we went to hand out literature in the community and I was so proud of them when they worked very hard collecting donations for ADRA.

SULADS Comprehensive High School for the LUMADS! Who would ever think that a LIGHT would brighten this once dark spot of the forest?

As a youth volunteer I had to do all kinds of activities, some of them kind of difficult, at least for me. I remember my first time snow skiing. It seemed very easy for the kids but I still thank God for preserving my life after rolling down a hill several meters. I also remember when we went water rafting and the boat flipped over, the water was so cold that I thought I wouldn’t get warm ever again.

But all those experiences created a strong bond between my kids and me and at the end of my term I was so sad because I had to leave, but God was calling me to do another job.

I continued my journey to the Land of Smiles, Thailand and God gave me another group of kids, and What kids!!!

I found myself in bustling Bangkok, teaching english in an Adventist School for a summer program. I was appointed to teach 8 to 9 years old kids but I asked to be changed to the High School program; I didn’t know why I did it but after my first day of classes I thought it was because I was out of my mind.

After having very well-behaved kids in Australia I got a well, let’s say a very different kind of kids. They were all boys, between 14 and 16 years old and very energetic, they came from wealthy families and were considered difficult kids, all of them failed English during the school year because according to their words they hated it and hated the teacher. After my first day of teaching I had such a hard time that I just wanted to cry and go home. One of the kids even said to me, "We will make your life as miserable as we can."
I didn’t have any training in classroom teaching and English is not my mother tongue so I worked so hard and spent almost all my free time preparing a class that lasted 4 hours a day to make it interesting to my kids. Even though it was an Adventist school, none of them were Adventist. They were Buddhist and Sik so I prayed God to help me to teach not just English but about Jesus, morals and principles.

I found out they really enjoyed drama and were very talented so I asked to make a modern version of the prodigal son and the samaritan stories. They did a great job and performed in front of all the other students at school.

But what really touched my heart was when we went to a poor and remote village to do a one-week community service project. They behaved very well and I was so proud of them because when other students were getting into trouble, missing work and worship, they were working very hard to build a classroom and teaching English christian songs to the village kids. They never complained about the mosquitoes, the heat and the poor living conditions. The last night they represented the last moments of Jesus´ life and his death in front of all the villagers and it was very impressive.

We really bonded and even though it was still not easy to keep them quiet in class I really started to enjoy teaching them and I guess they enjoyed my class too because none of them missed even a single one. The last day of classes I wanted to cry, just like the first day, but this time from happiness. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the letters of appreciation and love I got from my students. They were very thankful because I was always kind to them and because they learned English in an interesting way and because they learned about Jesus and also how harmful are tobacco, alcohol and drugs (some of them were involved with these substances). Then I fully understood why God led me to ask to be changed to the High School program.

I still pray for my kids in Australia and Thailand. I love them very much and I´m so grateful to God for the privilege of being part of their lives and to use me in spite of my flaws to make a difference to them. Those kids are one of the greatest blessing I have ever received in my life.

By: Carolina Ruocco

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Carolina pictured here with some of her kids in Australia.