Monday, May 28, 2007

life through the eyes of rural salvadoran kids

well, despite my life crisis (well, it's really not a crisis...just a need to make some decisions), things here continue as if it doesn't matter what decision i make or not. and that's a good thing, you know? it puts things in their proper place. you realize that you're not the center of the universe.....if i stay of if i go won't really effect the daily lives of the people who live here, or back in the states. my friends and family both here and there will go on with their lives no matter how important i think this decision is.

last wednesday really put things in perspective as well. our school was chosen by the ministerio de educación to be one of the schools this year that got to go to the children's museum in san salvador for a field trip. this isn't a yearly's maybe a once every ten years thing. so we were lucky to be chosen this year. and believe me, the kids at my school were so super lucky because lots of kids in rural areas such as san jorge never, ever get to do anything like this their whole lives. it's not like back in the states where every year the kids are rewarded with field trips to the zoo and other museums like that. so anyway, our school was given a field trip, all expenses paid, to tin marín, the children's museum in san salvador.

i can't really explain to you how this trip affected my sense of our place in this world. seriously. you just have to imagine the lives that some of these kids have....some kids don´t even have electricity. their lives consist of day in/day out the same routine of taking ice-cold bucket baths and helping their parents cut coffee or leña or whatever. they never get to go anywhere, unless it´s to the pueblo to get whatever it is they might need, and more often than not, they walk there. same with school...they walk through the woods to get there. seeing some of these kids faces when the bus traveled down the highway and finally into santa tecla and san salvador was just something that'd make you just about cry. a couple of kids said they'd never gone anywhere but ataco or ahuachapán....that this was the first time they'd been anywhere outside of their backyard. we pulled into the museum parking lot and their faces just lit up, like they'd just arrived at some magical place that only existed in their dreams. imagine what it was like once we got inside.....

i was completely blown away by the museum. obviously, it was geared towards kids, but i was so impressed by the activities and education that the kids were able to take part in while there. we split into three groups and had a guide for each group. they had a miniature airport where the kids were able to climb into the front section of a boeing 757, sit in the cockpit and check everything out. they had a life-size train and boat as well. there was a gravity house that sent me and mirna into hysterics as we tried to walk around. they had a butterfly house that was soooo had the morfo azul, which is this beautiful blue butterfly that we have around laguna verde that never stops flying around and is impossible to take pictures of, but is THE most beautiful butterfly i've ever seen. they had craft areas where the kids could make stuff like recycled paper, teaching the kids about re-using materials. there were stations that taught them about different parts of the world. there was an area where they learned about colors and light and they got to paint part of a volkswagen beetle. there were areas that taught the kids about different areas of el salvador like el imposible and the parque nacional de los volcanes. it was like a mixture of a children's museum and a science museum. so totally cool. obviously, the kids couldn't do everything in the museum. there were areas soley geared towards kids of the pre-school/kindergarten age, and other areas for older kids. we got lunch and breakfast and the kids got to watch a movie.

i just can't imagine the sensory-overload that the kids were experiencing, you know? i mean, all this stuff right at their fingertips, when their normal everyday lives are filled with practically nothing to do for fun except play pelota. i don't know. the museum was really cool and i wish we could have stayed longer, but since we had about a three hour trip back to apaneca/san jorge, we had to leave around 3:00. before we left, we were in the cafeteria area of the museum and there were three vending machines in there and the kids, and teachers as well, were like "how do we use these?" can you imagine? it's stuff like this that makes me realize how different my life is compared with the people down least people in the rural areas. they had never seen a vending machine before. why? because they don´t exist outside of san salvador or the metrocentro areas in sonsonate or santa ana (where most of these kids never have set foot before). soon i was like the queen of the vending machines because i knew how to operate them. the kids were so amazed that i knew how to operate them, putting their money in the machines, pressing some buttons, and voila – here comes the bag of chips. anyway, i must of spent at least 15 minutes just operating the vending machines for the kids. isn't that hilarious?

anyway, we made it back to apaneca with nothing crazy that happened the whole day. the kids were amazingly good on the bus, despite having to be on the bus for 3 hours there and 3 hours back. it was a good time and it's days like that that makes me realize that no matter how frustrating things can be at the school or whatever, the kids love to learn and anything i'm doing is like an ice cream sundae to their normal, boring, lecture-filled day. so now i'm even more dedicated to using my creative ability to educate the kids and if i decide to stay another year, it should be a lot of fun, right?

on the bus

waiting for the museum to open

third graders gloria marisol and alba eating our breakfast of a pupusa and empanada

miguel reading some butterfly information

mirna with a butterfly that landed on her

inside the gravity house

our guide giving a demo on gravity

more from inside the casa de gravedad

inside the airplane

brenda at the helm

mirna wishing she was flying to the u.s.

third grade girls wilma, cecilia, alba, brenda and gloria marisol...waiting for lunch

making a craft (which i never figured out what it was.....i made one too, but i wasn´t paying attention when we started and then felt like too much of a dumbass to ask what it was we were making. everyone else seemed to know!!!)

javier (the computer teacher) with the craft we any of you know what it is?? what am i missing??

the bed of nails....the kids got a kick out of that

painting the car

the huge volcano...something we know a little about here in el sal