Thursday, April 10, 2008

Trabajando (working)

Well, I have survived my first week of work. I can’t say it was a normal week or that it represents at all what my work will be like in the future, but it was interesting to say the least. On Monday, I went to Chorjale, my biggest school. I got a ride with Profe Pedro because I don’t know how to get there and it is a 5K uphill walk. My goal this week was to meet with the school directors and give them a calendar of my work schedule I made up and hang around the school a bit so people could get to know me. It turned out that Monday at Chorjale was a civil day, which meant an assembly where all the kids sang the national anthem, said the pledge of allegiance, and Profe Eli, the Director, discussed a topic about the country of Guatemala. It turns out this was the perfect time to introduce me to all of the students and invite me to give a speech. In Guatemala, everywhere you go, especially if you are from out of town, you are invited to give a speech. So I gave a speech in front of the school. I am pretty sure I mostly said thank you twelve different ways and them ran off stage. After the activities, I was asked to help hand out school supplies that the government gave to all of the parents in the school. So, all the parents came and lined up for their supplies and I handed them out while Profe Eli and another teacher checked them off the list. It was a whole 3 hours of me running around, trying to understand what grade the kids were in, and trying to remember to grab the supplies to all the grades of the parents who told me (sometimes 4 or 5 kids). I am pretty sure, like usual, I looked like a crazy person. It turns out, all of this left no time for me to talk to Profe Eli about my calendar. I guess it will have to wait until next week.

Tuesday I stayed in town because I had a meeting with the Education Supervisor to give him my calendar. On Wednesday, it was my day to go to Xacana Chiquito, my smallest school. I rode there with Seño Patti because I don´t know the way and it is a 4.5K uphill walk (seeing the pattern here?). When I got there, I found out the Profe Gilberto, the director, wasn’t going to be at the school that day. So, I couldn’t present my calendar. I guess it will wait until next week. I told the other two teachers that I just wanted to sit in their classes and observe which translated into my giving a lesson. So I was left first with Profe Gilberto’s class because they didn’t have a teacher. I pulled a lesson about hygiene habits off the top of my head and took up an hour of time. I then went to the other classrooms, where the teachers gave me the floor even though I insisted I didn’t have anything prepared. I asked all the kids their names (none of which I remember) and a silly question like if they had animals or siblings or if they lived close to the school. The good news is, I made it through the day and I got atol (hot rice drink) during recreo (recess).

Today I went to my last school, Loma Grande. When I got there, it turned out that two of my four teachers (including the director, Seño Sara) weren’t there today. So, I couldn’t give her my calendar (got the pattern?) and it will have to wait until next week. I told these teachers that I just wanted to observe their classes and it translated correctly this time so I just sat in on the classes for a half hour and then excused myself. Someone from the health center had come to give vaccines and all the kids were crying anyways. I walked home because this school is only 1.5K and was accompanied the whole way by a really sweet grandmother from the community who was going to Cabrican as well.

So that sums up my first week of work. I figure it counts to get to know some of the teachers, let the students see me, and hopefully the real work will start next week. Next week I am preparing a presentation for the kids about my life and my family and friends (you guys!) so they can get to know me. I am hoping it will be fun. The most common questions I get asked are if I am married, why not, if I have kids, and if I am sad. I am hoping to answer the all at once and get it over with.

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