…is not nearly as satisfying as Monday Morning Bodo’s.
Here I sit, deafened by the music blasting from across the street (approximately 10 meters from my window), after having been deafened previously–and successfully rousted from my slumber–at 5 a.m. by the blasts of the ever-present M80 firecrackers, one of which was ignited right below my streetcorner window. I thought the guerrillas had returned, until I realized, upon further inspection, that the perpetrator was a 40-or-so-year-old guy hanging out outside his house. What’s with that? Ahh, culture. So shocking!
I must apologize for the delay in writing–surely I won’t have good excuses the next time it happens, but at least this time I can blame it on a failing Internet connection and… … …the BLACK PLAGUE! Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, the 24/48-hr plague has hit the Foundation. Yours truly was the first victim, and thus will probably be a servant of the rest by the end of the week. Grim days…
The days since the search of Pittsburgh have, however, not been nearly so grim. [Ahh…out-of-tune saxes were just added to one of the marimba songs. Excellent.] Among the activities were a couple of teacher meetings here in the Foundation, which included a free lunch as an incentive. The method of holding meetings and the semi-tense politics that sometimes creep in are still a mystery to me, but on the whole I think the meetings have been (and will be) relatively successful. However, I do think that all of us uptight Americans here at the Foundation wish that meetings of all types would be publicized more than 1 hour in advance by 1 person–perhaps, say, the day before? We were all caught off guard the other day when two of our tercero problem children waltzed into our kitched into what turned out to be a disciplinary meeting, which none of us knew was going to occur until we saw the two of them. Being put on the spot about X, Y, or Z’s specific disciplinary problems in class, without having more than three minutes to think about it, isn’t very pleasant.
On a much more festive note, all of the teachers went to Santa Eulalia (1.5 hrs away) last Monday to attend the graduation of Eulalia, one of our fellow teachers, from her university teaching program. [It turns out that aside from all of the college-grad expats, she’s the only staff member with a college degree in teaching, which I thought was interesting. I do, however, think most of the school staff and faculty members are working toward their degrees as well, although where and for how much longer I’m not sure.] The graduation was quite enjoyable: the marimba band was energetic and in-tune, and the ceremonies were ceremonial. The speeches were a tad dry and long, but the MC’s made up for that by playing as background music virtually the entire repertoire of a Casio keyboard. You know–“I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad,” “Cielito Lindo,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Ants Go Marching,” and the crowning jewel of the ceremony, “Everything I Do, I Do it for You.” Great stuff.
Last Sunday Jessica and I took a cabin-fever-reducing walk and ended up down at María and Henry’s house for the first time since we’ve been here, and were graciously invited in for a lunch of excellent chicken soup–I strive to make soup that good, but fail repeatedly…alas! It was nice to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon with such friendly folks who were, very genuinely, relaxing. And really, the folks are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met: on our way back up the hill we went to visit Brian, one of María’s nephews with whom I had some hilarious interactions when I was here in March, and after our all-too-brief visit, as we were trudging back up the hill toward the center of town, he came barrelling after us carrying two ripe oranges as tokens of…niceness? It was great. Things like that really make a day great.
Also, as you surely saw in the pictures, great amounts of basketball goodness was also engaged in. I think the inter-school “campeonato” is a regular thing here in San Mateo–I’ll be sure to take some different and interesting pictures of the totally intense students the next time we have one. Man, they’re so into it! It’s great. If only they would be as into studying for their math tests…
Classes continue to go fairly well. Discipline is still a problem sometimes, but there are great days thrown into the mix as well. I’m off in a few minutes to to hand back the tercero, cuarto, and sexto math tests (adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing regular numbers and fractions, number lines, etc.). Unfortunately, the only class who had an above-65% average was sexto; the other two classes had an average of about 45%. I’m still trying to figure out if I really do have to go even further back in the material, or if they really already know how to do it and simply aren’t applying themselves in the right way. The lack of thought when they do problems is still an issue…for example, one answer I got to the question “2/3 + 3/4” was “6/7,” which would have involved multiplying the top two numbers and adding the bottom two! That doesn’t suggest to me that they can’t figure out how to do it–it just suggests that regurgitation has been such a huge part of their education up until now that it’s going to be a very, very hard habit to break.
But before reforming methods of thought, off to breakfast.