Thursday, February 22, 2007

back to school 2007

well, we´re about a month into school again. actually, the kids in san jorge really didn´t all get there until february 1st or so, but now they´re pretty much all there and so the year begins. so what have i been doing? working my ass off is what!! well, at least more than i had done last year at this time. first off, i made an environmental information board at the school. it took a lot of time to prepare, but when it all got up on the wall and i see the kids reading the stuff i have up there, it was definitely all worth it. basically we´ll have a different theme every month - about biodiversity and environmental problems and all that. a lot of it is just straight up science which the kids are definitely lacking in their learning. so i´ve made it fun and interesting and hopefully they´ll get something out of it.

i´m planning a hike for the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th graders to celebrate earth day in april. this is a huge organizational process, but if the teachers are serious about it and help me, then i´m sure it also will be well worth it. we are going to take up garbage bags and get rid of the litter that´s currently up around laguna las ninfas. nobody cleans up the trash up there and it´s a shame because it´s such a beautiful place. so it´ll be a day of working, but the kids will also get a chance to goof around and we´ll eat lunch up there and all.

next week we are painting a huge map of el salvador on one of the walls outside the school. unfortunately, only the older kids can really participate in that (3, 4, 5, 6 grades) because it´s complicated and the younger kids are just so crazy. but i´ve got some other activities i´m trying to work on for them so they´ll feel like they get to do stuff too.

and then in-between all that we are, of course, starting the huertos again. i had to give a charla to the kids about responsibility and i think they thought i was being mean, but i had to point out that these huertos aren´t for me....i´m there to teach THEM how to plant them and take care of them and all that. and i told them that i´m not going to be the person that takes care of them. so we went about organizing into teams and each day a different team is gonna be in charge of taking care of them. because that´s the point of our work here. it´s not to do stuff for them. i didn´t join peace corps to have my own personal vegetable garden in el salvador. i can do that in the states. so i think the kids were a little taken aback, because i know the previous volunteer did almost all the work. and i´m not gonna do that, because it doesn´t help them any. so we´ll see how that goes! if we have dead plants and the like, and i told them this, it´s because they didn´t carry out their responsibilities. then i also had to lecture to them about working together. there is such a divide between the girls and the boys here. they do EVERYTHING separately. and especially in 5th and 6th grade, the girls are so friggin´ self-conscious. so i had to tell them that i understand if they don´t play soccer together. but in the classrooms and the huertos and during activities, everyone can work together. it´s so annoying when you have an activity and the girls are all timid and shy and don´t want to participate because then it ruins the whole activity. so i had to kind of lecture them on that.

so that´s it for now in the school. next weekend is the full moon hike at my site and hopefully it won´t rain or anything. it´s still the dry season, so it shouldn´t. but here in apaneca, you never know!

i don´t think i wrote about my translating job i did at the end of january. i went over to santa ana to participate in an eye campaign. a bunch of eye doctors from the states came down for a week and performed eye surgeries and eye exams for salvadorans who are too poor to pay for this sort of thing here. some of them had never seen an eye doctor in their whole lives. the team brought down hundreds of used eyeglasses as well, so for those salvadorans that needed glasses, they were fitted with new-old ones. of course, they sometimes weren´t the prettiest glasses, but it was just so cool to witness the salvadorans being able to see better when they put a pair of glasses on. (FYI - so when you see those boxes at the store that ask for used eyeglasses, campaigns like this are probably where they´ll end up!) i LOVED this job translating for the doctors. it was so cool to be the one that could understand both the doctors and the patients. most of the doctors couldn´t speak spanish at all. also, one day i got to assist the only physician who had come down....they are experimenting with doing a campaign where they focus on diabetes or high blood pressure patients. so the patients that were supposed to come in were supposed to have either diabetes or high blood pressure. well, like all things salvadoran, rules were not followed, and we got about 6 hours worth of salvadorans who had everything from ¨my back hurts sooo bad¨ to ¨i think i´m having early menopause.¨ it was so hilarious. the patients would all respond so typically....the doctor would have me ask them what problem they were having and they´d launch into this litany of problems (my back hurts, so do my feet, and i have an upset stomach, and i have terrible headaches...and on and on). so we finally learned that we had to ask them straight away ¨what problem are you having that is the WORST problem?¨ they were so cute though...most of them old ladies or old men and it was soooo cool being able to communicate with them and seeing the smiles on their faces when i used salvadoran slang. i felt like that translating experience was so much more fulfilling than the normal work we do here because i was serving a purpose that i could see the results instantaneously. i know the work i´m doing in my site is important and there are results, but you very rarely see them...development takes a long time and the person who started the development never gets to see the end result first hand. so it was nice just to be able to see it for once.

let´s see....what else is there to report? three government officials from el salvador got shot and burned in their car outside guatemala city the other day. here´s a story about it in english if you want to read what happened and who was involved. everyone´s talking about it here, rightfully so. but it still seems like if this happened in the united states (like officials from our government were killed and burned in some other country), the interrogation and sentiments that would be much, much more in-depth and strong than they have been here.

right now i´m reading a book about the pilgrims and it is so good. everyone who thinks the pilgrims were these nice people who simply wanted to live their separatists lives in peace should read more about them. i´m not finished with the book, but my eyes were definitely opened to the people (the native americans too) we equate with thanksgiving (which happens to be my favorite holiday). thanks aunt marilyn for sending me that book! hey, while i´m at it, why don´t i take a moment here to thank everyone who has sent me stuff:

first of all, thank you so much to everyone who has written and continues to write me letters. i love them all and i have a whole box full of them and it makes me all happy to know that i have such a great group of friends and family that cares about me.

muchas gracias standish and cameron for sending me what is probably the most hysterical book i have read in a long time - america, by jon stewart. also, kudos to you for the inconvenient truth book (which i can use to show the kids actual pictures of global warming) and a book that warms my heart.....out of nowhere, the story of the 2006 detroit tigers! and to round out the gifts from cleveland heights, spaghettios and hockey magazines!

thanks to my aunt marilyn for the above-mentioned pilgrim book, as well as many others that i´ve either requested or been surprised with. thank you also for the lotion/shampoo/soap kit. finally, if any of you like trail mix or dried fruit, my aunt has been supplying me with the best trail mix ever.....benjamin twigg´s dried cherries and nuts. damn.

muchisimas gracias to my best friend jenny and sabrina and rudy for all the candy. i´ve tried to introduce pop rocks to antonio and he doesn´t get it. thanks for the home movies - i have to say i was a little teary eyed at the videos of you all up in michigan with becky and her fam. i wish i could of been there! also, thank you for all the other little items in your awesome gift packages.....lotion, earrings, microwave popcorn, chocolate, steamy romance novels, and the best of all....sabrina´s collages.

gracias to eric for supplying me with a bunch of my favorite movies! seriously, i´ve been able to watch the life aquatic, before sunrise and before sunset from the comfort of my own home down here in el salvador. thanks also for my first pair of earplugs, the will leitch book, the rolling stone issue with friggin´ eddie vedder on the front, as well as a couple kick-ass bluegrass cd´s.

a big 80´s thank you to one of my best friends in the world - amy - for....wait for it........the everything´s duckie edition of pretty in pink!!!! so totally cool!!!! and if that weren´t enough, also included was pearl jam´s new cd!

muchas gracias to nancy for your awesome cards. (for those of you who don´t know, nancy decided one day to buy a digital camera and after she started taking pictures, she realized that some of them were really good so she started printing them out, mounting them on cardstock and wallah! she has taken some of the most beautiful pictures i have ever seen. and she sells them around cleveland. cool, huh?)

danke schön to my friends kai and sonja for the books (one of them is even signed to me by the author!). another one of them i have lent to some of my friends in the peace corps community, so your gift is going a long way.

last but not least, thanks to my parents, for EVERYTHING that you have sent (i´d be here all day listing everything). i know it has cost a lot of money to ship everything down here, but i (and the school as well) have really appreciated everything.

well, that´s about it for now. i´ll have more pictures when the kids and i start working at the school and when we draw and paint the map. until then,

salú pués!