Wednesday, December 23, 2009

working in the preschool

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I Have It Easy
I got up early, washed my hair in the shower that got cold by the time I got to rinsing myself off, and contemplated the day. I definitely have the easiest assignments of the team. Laura gets mauled by the babies every morning while Weston does hard labor like trimming trees with machetes and I play with a couple of kids in the infirmary. In the afternoon, Lulu and Laura do physical therapy with Emily and Maria Christina, toddlers. Weston plays with the two worst behaved kids in the school for two hours while I cut and glue. Sometimes he gets a respite from Arno and Oscar and gets to help Maria Flores with me. I don’t feel guilty about the situation. We chose before we really knew what was involved. It’s very nice not to be in charge. Perhaps I would teach the Kinder crafts differently but I don’t have to worry about it. I just have to do what I’m asked to do. I love it! I’ve been having a gas problem, burping and farting a lot, probably due to the mounds of garlic toast I eat every day for lunch at Qubba.
Lulu, Laura, and I cut and buttered the rolls for the morning snack with caramel goo and butter. We then counted them out (200 in one container, 151 in another, and 75 in another.)
I went to office for my supply of things to do and headed over to el hospitalito and there was no one to play with. Isabel was sick in bed and so was another boy, Benjamin. I went back to the Global Volunteers office and found Edith. She took me to the leader of the kindergarten who asked me to make popcorn containers for the students. I was led to a classroom where the students were barely under control. They ran to tell me and Edith about their teacher who had been hurt in an accident the day before. I did not realize this meant they had a substitute. I thought it was a regular teacher’s aide. I made the last popcorn container but it was rejected by the substitute because there wasn’t enough overlap above the upside down party hat. I did it again. I told a few stories and the students were attentive. They finished their craft type activity and got out puzzles to play. I sat at a table and helped them. I let out a silent deadly fart and one girl held her nose, but nothing was said. I did not own up to it. The substitute disappeared for while, and then came back with the morning snack: the rolls I had cut and warm milk. For 30 minutes the students ate and generally fooled around. The substitute asked me wipe off the tables when the students were done, and a few students refused to let me near their space at the table. They were getting rowdier by the minute. The substitute had them put away all the puzzles, and then left me alone with the kids! I figured recess was imminent. Some kids darted out of the room, others tried to swing on the classroom door; it was chaos! I’m not good with chaos, but I had no authority. Twenty-five minutes later the substitute returned. The students took off their smock uniforms and went outside for a very brief recess. Then it was time for the Fiesta. The teachers had taken large mats out of a storeroom and set them around the edge of part of the playground. The students sat down with their classes. First the youngest, maybe 3 years old (?) tried to play musical chairs. That was pretty entertaining except I was in charge of my class, as the substitute was nowhere to be seen, and they were punching and generally cutting up. A few children from each class got to do an event like walking with a hard-boiled egg on a spoon, etc. It was a lot to ask three, four, and five year-olds to be attentive while others played. In the U.S. we would have had stations and done the events simultaneously so everyone participated. After the Fiesta, we put away the mats and the children played. Some kids and I danced to the music, forming a rumba chain. Quite fun.
Laura had a heart breaking “aha” this morning. She felt, rather than thought, about the kids having no one constant in their lives from whom to get comfort. Sad and sobering.
In the afternoon I went to help Maria Flores. She was tracing circles on tag board for the five year-old girls to cut out. She needed a form for the smallest circle and I used a five sol piece, smaller than a quarter. I doubted that the students could do it, but they proved me wrong. These circles will make snowmen. It’s a cooperative project in that one class cuts the circles, another will put the texture on, a third will put on the hats and faces, etc. We cut strips of orange and yellow paper and the girls made hair for the boys’ angels. I questioned why the hair was these colors when the kids all had brown hair. The answer was very practical: that’s the color paper they had. But why wasn’t brown paper bought?
Laura and Lulu had to deal with ants in the playroom they were using.
After work we went shopping for gifts for PPA: copy paper, pencil sharpeners, and shoes for toddlers.
For dinner we took a taxi, but the traffic was horrendous due to the APEC meeting. World leaders are converging on Miraflores and many streets are closed. The taxi had to drop us off about ten blocks from the Acantilado (Cliff) of Barranco restaurant in the Bohemian part of town. Outside the restaurant is an area where lovers congregate and kiss. It’s on the water with a beautiful view. We had vegetable lasagna with Greek olives and beef with onions. Laura remarked that she could see a reflection of a Madonna in window and wondered if she was having a religious experience. Lulu looked around and po9inted out the stained glass around the corner from our table. Weston said it didn’t look like Madonna and we all cracked up.
Dessert was the national pride: picarones. It is like doughnut but made from sweet potatoes and squash and served with a cinnamon sauce. We ate two servings and said we were glad that we didn’t find out about them until nearly the end of our trip or we would have insisted on them every day.
Thought for the day:
“With women (and men) like these, failure is impossible.”
---Susan B. Anthony

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