Aug 2, 2012

Day III: Mucha Drama

Waiting for the school to be unlocked
Day III started out rather auspiciously. It had been raining on and off all day with varying degrees of intensity. As we were walking to the school, a light drizzle was falling. (There. I have set the appropriate mood. All further literary pretexts will henceforth be abandonded.)  When we arrived, the school was locked. So we waited and waited and waited some more. Around 2:30, the principal showed up to let us in. We found out later from
Tanya´s uncle Julito, who is the school´s guard, that he is only paid to work in the mornings, which goes a long way to explaining why there are so many more kids hanging around the camp this year. There are little kids, who peek in the windows and hang out in the doorway and then there are older kids who are much more distracting. More on that later. I suppose I should be excited that there is so much interest in our little project here. And we would love to be able to accomodate more children, but the problem is that we´re trying to establish a camp environment conducive to learning and it´s rather difficult with so many distractions. I think though that once again I am bringing my gringo sensibilities to this situation and should just welcome the increased attention that we´re getting.

Watercolor painting
In any event, once we got going, we did lots of great activities. At one point we split the class into an older group and a younger group. Tanya read the book, A City Garden to the little ones, and I led a group read aloud with the older ones. It´s still shocking to me how many of the eleven and twelve year old campers have such weak literacy skills. But the stronger readers helped out when the weaker ones struggled  and they were all very supportive, which was nice to see.  Because of the rain, we had to have indoor sports and luckily (though really there was no luck involved whatsover as my lovely bride is always prepared) Tanya had brought down some games to play. So, the kids played chess, checkers, Battleship, Blink, and Sorry for a while.  You ever try to explain rules to a game like Battleship in a foreign language? I mean I took years of Spanish and never once did the phrase, ¨You sunk my battleship!¨come up.

In any event, we finished up with a nice watercolor art activity in which the kids painted their ideal gardens. What was striking to me was the lack of imagination that many of the campers showed in painting their gardens. Most of them just drew a tree and a few flowers, and some clouds and a sun. Back home, we have done a lot of thinking about how creativity plays such an important part in learning. These kids just haven´t had the opportunity to be creative in school and, as a result, aren´t very good at it. Of note, is that they are amazingly creative when it comes to play; inventing games to play with little or no props at all. I would write more here as I don´t feel that I have completely expressed what I wanted to, but Tanya´s bugging me to finish so that we can head off to the market in town. So, I need to get on to ¨the incident.¨

It was during the aforementioned indoor recess when ¨the incident¨ occurred. Two of the girls innocently enough asked to go to the bathroom. When they didn´t return after ten minutes or so, Tanya went searching for them. She found them in back of the school hanging out with their boyfriends (now do you see why I set the ominous setting at the beginning of this post?)  Tanya  gave them a severe verbal lashing and sent them packing for the day. She warned them that if their boyfriends were hanging out again, she would kick the girls out of the program. Maybe we should be filming this whole thing and turn it into a reality show: ¨The Real Children of Madre Vieja¨.  This would go really well with my product placement idea, don´t you think?