It´s been a long time since I´ve written, the last couple months have been packed with stuff. There was a two-week period when I taught in the Sala de Nivelacion, all day Monday through Friday, (a levelling classroom where kids come to recieve extra help in math and language) for my friend Jose who got this great opportunity to go to England. When we found out that he was selected to go, I offered to teach his classes for him to give him the chance to go. Because the teacher in the Sala de Nivelacion is contracted by the government, I had to go to an interview in the capital and take a psychological test to get approval. Let me just say that this psychological test was the most ridiculous, meaningless ¨test¨I have ever seen. It was a series of 50 questions, each question listing 4 adjectives. I had to select the two adjectives that best described me. Here was a typical question:
I thought to myself: If I was a Salvadoran supervisor, what answer would I like to see from this gringo? I must have passed the test because they let me teach for those two weeks.
Most of the time, I loved the kids in the class. We played lots of math and language games, which were tons of fun. I found myself teaching Spanish grammar, like when to accent certain words, which was great for me, because I learned a lot along with the kids. One of the best things I did was read to them. There are a number of large children books in the classroom that never get used, so I decided to read them a story every day. They absolutely loved it. Whenever I read a story, all the kids gathered around sitting on the floor completely absorbed in the story, listening intently to ever word I said. After I finished one story, they all asked me to read another. Pretty cool stuff. This got me thinking that it´d be great to start a reading program in the school. We have this library that never gets used full of adolescent literature. So, that´s one of my project ideas, to get a reading program going.
The rainy season has offically started. It just so happened that the first day it rained really hard, I was walking home from the turnoff to my community. It´s about a 25 minute walk from the turnoff to my house, and I got completely soaked all the way down to my socks and underwear. I walked past the school, which was still in session, and all the kids laughed at me that I got caught in the rain. I´m not looking forward to the rainy season. I have to cross three rivers to get to my house, and apparently, all three of them rise so high when it rains that it makes it nearly impossible to cross. There are two bridges on the first two rivers, and apparently sometimes the rivers reach above the bridges, so if you want to cross, you have to wait until the river recedes. There´s no bridge over the first river, so most people have to wait until the rain dies down, then take off your shoes and socks, hike up your pants, and wade across the river to the other side, carrying your shoes in your hand. Fun. Although I´m not looking forward to the rainy season, I´m sure it´ll be just another aspect of life I´ll get used to eventually.
The rain has brought in tons of creatures into my room. I´ve seen at least 2 scorpions in the last 2 months, a few rats, tons of large flying bugs that sound like mini-helicopters they´re so loud. And for some reason, the chickens that live in my front yard love to fly through the space in between the wall and the roof and lay eggs in my bed. The egg-laying has become such a common event that my host dad regularly asks me if I´ve found any eggs in my room.
So I so the Star Trek movie in the capital a few weeks back. It was the second movie I´ve seen here in El Salvador (the first was the newest James Bond movie which I saw on my friend´s laptop) and the first movie I´ve seen in a theater. It was pretty cool, but somehow ¨engage¨ just didn´t sound the same in Spanish. I´ll have to see it again in English at some point.
In terms of projects, I´ve started a life-planning course for the students in 9th grade. I got 3 other people to do it with me: the local health promoter, a local government worker, and an NGO worker. So far we´ve had two sessions which have gone pretty well. In the course, we´re going to talk about setting goals, planning for the future, gender stereotypes, communication skills, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, and other stuff related to reproductive health. I was really paranoid about teaching the stuff about sexuality, but my 3 other counterparts thought that it would be a good idea and something that is really necessary. So we had a meeting with all the parents of the kids to get their approval, and to my surprise, they all agreed that the reproductive health stuff was a good idea. I´m really excited about the class, especially the sexuality stuff. Nearly all girls over the age of 21 have babies. I can probably count on one hand the girls that don´t. So, I feel that this is something that is really worthwhile and important. Chivo.
Another thing I´m working on is getting 20 young people to participate in a vocational workshop. I found out that a local organization sponsored by the government and a few private institutions, gives free vocational workshops to poor kids. One requirement is that the kids be between 16 and 20 years old and be able to attend the workshop for 2 months, all day Monday through Frida. So, I´m trying to motivate the youth and get this workshop going. It´s a lot of legwork: contacting the institution about my progress, making invitations and handing them out to all the interested youth, getting my counterparts in the community involved, etc. etc. But I hope it all works out, it´ll be such a great opportunity. The workshops include: carpentry, a residential electricity workshop, sewing, cosmetology, brick-laying, and others.
Other projects are going well, especially my English classes. I´ve been teaching a basic English class for the last 4 months every Saturday, so finally I´ve decided to give the final exam next month. The class wants to have a party afterwards at a local waterpark as a celebration for passing the final exam. So we´re trying to raise money in order to go. We should have about 40 kids total, which will require about $150, more or less. I figure that if my 40 students help fundraise we can get the money in a month or two, we´ll see.
Ok, that´s it for now. In the next month, I´m looking forward to giving a workshop to the new Peace Corps volunteers about teaching English, going to Santa Ana to visit one of my good friends - Emily, and a 3-day Peace Corps-sponsored workshop for PCV´s and their counterparts at the beach. Should be fun.
Oh, the title of the post refers to the fact that when it rains, I basically can´t leave my house, so all I can do is sit in my room and play guitar.