Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ovejas lentas y Patos rapidos

When I arrive to the school, the kids are in recreo, playing outside. A few of them greet me at the front gate, yelling my name and diving in for cheek kisses. Their classroom is all the way at the back of the school, so they get a jolt of pride, walking all the way through all of the less-fortunates with their own pet gringa. When I get to the classroom, I sit at the desk in front and gather my things and my thoughts while the kids wind themselves down a little. While I sit there, they come in the room in alone or in pairs or in threes, clinging to each others arms and giggling while they deposit on my desk an array of classic teacher gifts. I walk out of my classes at the end with an armload of apples and oranges and crackers and cookies and sour gum balls. When I walk around in the streets the children scream “Profesora Corni!” and run in for more affection. They all think I am crazy to work for free but really, it's absolutely fantastic and I am getting paid mountains for these easy little English classes with the little ones.

I am planning out some classes with the Director of the Colegio (high school), but these will be more of epic programs than these little English classes are. We are talking about term long courses on Youth Entrepreneurship, starting an internship program with businesses in the community, and having half-day work shops on Self-Esteem for Girls, and Anti-Machismo for Boys. Whew. Kids. I dunno.

The teaching style they use with children in this country is far less than optimal and the results are evident when working with the adults, too. How a class works here, any class, is the teacher writing information on the board and the children copying it down. There is very little discussion and almost zero room for creative thought. Their penmanship, however, is excellent. This is a national epidemic – not the penmanship, but the teaching style. If I remember my Little House on the Prairie books correctly, the educational system in the United States was very similar in the past. Now how was that changed and can I do it here?

Because it is very frustrating. When working with the adults, getting them to come up with ideas is like pulling teeth and when one person gets an idea, the rest simply copy it, with great sighs of relief. When working with the children, I occasionally have to give in and let them copy a little something down, after the fourth of fifth time they ask each day, or else they start getting pretty antsy and stressed out. And it is absolutely astonishing the ripple effects that can be seen in absolutely everything, stemming from a lack of creative thought process. There is a lot we take for granted...

My business classes with the adults are getting better and I seemed to have gained a bit more confianza – I think I have even fooled them into believing that I have any idea what I am talking about. Then again, with the strange and not particularly useful education many have previously received, it is sometimes easy to blow minds (Let's figure out your production costs... Oh, look, they are HIGHER than you are selling your products for... Let's fix that...)

Other small life things:

  • I am a runner now, though I still hate running and do not understand runners and this euphoria they speak of. It makes me throw up. I only do it to feed my masochism.
  • More to my liking, I am now involved in an exchange with the town priest – English classes for piano lessons. I'm gonna be a regular goddamn Mozart. I don't put it like that when I am with the priest though.
  • I am thinking of starting a reading circle soon and just dropping it straight in the center of the town plaza – I am sure I can draw a rather large group of gawkers for that, and maybe they will listen to the books too, and maybe want to read one someday. I can't remain in an entire country of non-readers. It makes me feel pale and ill somehow.
  • I am writing letters to scientific supply companies in the States, to get lenses and mirrors donated to see about building a telescope for my town with my sister and some other teens.
  • I am trying to learn a little more knitting and have started weaving my first shawl with my artisans. I still like knitting all right. I hate weaving. Hate.
  • My dad has now officially announced at an assembly of adults that I was presenting to that I am very marriageable. He had a whole sales pitch for me and everything. Nice one there, Peru-pops.
  • My family hates mac and cheese, but not nearly as much as they hate nutritional yeast. I am a complete jerk though and love watching them force it down and smile and thank me for the interesting American food. The jerks gimme rice three meals a day. Rice and potatoes. Not bad foods, until you have them three meals day. They can become the most hated things... Small acts of vengeful cooking, this is what I have been reduced to.
  • With everything else, I feel that I am still getting absurd amounts of books read and have watched a lot of TED talks and movies.

Seems I am traveling practically every weekend. It would have been something like eight in a row but my Saucepampa/Tostén trip was canceled last weekend. This weekend, meeting in Chota, next weekend a horseback trip to Pulán and Chilal, the next one an artisan fair in Lima, the next one Valor Boys Camp in Cajamarca. After that it should be about time for another monthly meeting. Then maybe I can relax for a minute before a week of Early In-Service Training in early December in Trujillo. I really would like to have a little bit more static time, though I know that as soon as I get this wish I will want nothing more than to get a breaks from site.

Two month mark at site this weekend. Not sure how I feel about this. I feel that some of my compañeros already have a hundred times as many things going on as I, but then again, everyone's situation varies so wildly. I think I am mostly comfortable with where I am. I have about finished all the possible interviews I can think of to learn about the community – every school, NGO, church, and a million other things like the cops and power company and radio stations – and I have moved onto interviewing families to gather hard data about people's lives here. I feel I am conducting my own personal census. Epic task.

Miss you all. Also, I yoinked one line in this blog from a book – prolly not verbatim. Should we play a game where you get a prize from Perú if you spot it? This is really just me trying to confirm that there is consciousness out there in the void.

I forgot to take pictures this week, so here's a few from last week. I will try and remember to take some more in the coming week.
I am learning to weave:

Adventures in Chiclayo:

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