Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. My boss (Beth Neville Evans), her husband (John Evans), their friend (Dave), my friend from home (Jessica), another new volunteer from Ohio (Angela), and I all arrived safely in San Mateo after a three-hour flight to Guatemala City, an hour’s drive to Antigua, a five-hour drive/cab/bus ride to Huehuetenango (the capital of the state we’re in), and a five-hour ride to San Mateo. The trip from Guatemala City to Antigua was a tad nerve-wracking, since I was perched atop all of our luggage in the back of a pickup truck on lightly potholed roads…but it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as [actually] almost falling off a cliff on the way to San Mateo from Huehue, when an oncoming trucked failed to yield the right-of-way to our eighteen-thousand-ton bus, which was, naturally, traveling down an incline of approximately 76º. Not cool.
But, despite all odds, we did make it, and things have started out at full speed here in San Mateo. Some might say it’s because the new school hadn’t been wired yet. But others might say that it’s because we discovered that school was not to start on January 15, as originally planned…but rather, a week earlier! Luckily, the director decided to have a few iotas of mercy on us by giving us Monday off, having the inauguration on Tuesday, and then finally starting classes two days “late,” on Wednesday. This “late” term, however, is relative to the January 8 start date issued by the Ministry of Education in Guatemala City…oh…a month ago? This is an agency in the same government that placed the order for new money too late, so the entire country has been in an economic crisis for about a week due to lack of bills. I’ll be on the lookout for more government absurdities…
Regardless of the chaos, things have started out nicely–the directors and other teachers are great, and despite the usual technological roadblocks encountered by the folks down here who have limited access to computer repair and printer-cartridge refills, we’ve gotten quite a lot done. We finally finished the schedule today, which was one of the most odious processes I’ve ever been a part of. Six classes, 11 teachers, and about 12 courses per grade, all of which meet either 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 times weekly. It’s basically like sitting around trying to do an infinite-sided Rubik’s cube. Twice.
But now that’s squared (cubed?) away, and I’m content with my 21-periods-a-week schedule (24 in the spring), which is much, much lighter than the loads some of the teachers had last year. We barely have enough teachers–and a couple of the teachers on the schedule haven’t even arrived yet–but we’ll definitely get by nicely. On the docket is the following:
3º (tercero básico — 9th grade): Física Fundamental (2 periods), & Matemáticas (5p)
4º (cuarto básico — 10th grade): Física (4p), & Matemáticas (4p)
6º (sexto magisterio — 12th grade): Química (1p 1st sem., 4 p 2nd sem.), & Matemáticas (5p)
Should be good. Math and physics for tercero and cuarto are probably going to be about the same (more or less like Conceptual Physics and algebra at Woodberry, I expect). Chemistry with sexto is going to be ridiculous, since I haven’t studied it since my sophomore year…in high school. I sense a physics-oriented chemistry curriculum… The class I’m really excited about is the math class with sexto–they’re already known as the class that’s good with math, so what we’re going to do is work on the topics covered in a state math test, which they’ll take in May (before the end of the 1st semester). Then after that we’ll keep on doing various advanced topics. If I can control them better than my Woodberry freshmen, I’ll be set…!
Anyway, that’s the word for now. More meetings tomorrow, despite the fact that it’s the weekend. Once we get underway, I get my six annual plans turned in (eehhhh), and I start to get into the swing, you’ll surely hear some adventure stories about Mayan ruins, tales in Chuj, etc. But until then…take care, and onward we go!