Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Know How I Hate Children ...

After two lovely weeks of vacation, I've started a new project: teaching English in a secondary school in Qoya, about ten minutes from Pisac. The school's "English teacher" only speaks about ten words of English, so I'm running the show (which, of course, is how I like it). The facility is very basic -- no computers or science labs here -- but it's functional and clean.

The real challenge is that I have to teach in Spanish. I make lots of mistakes, such as telling the students to work with birds (pajaros) instead of partners (parejas). Mostly, however, we do manage to communicate.

Working in a Peruvian school has really helped me to understand this country. Even in a good, relatively urban school like mine, the level of education is far below what we'd expect in the United States. Everything is piecemeal and disorganized -- classes begin and end whenever the director remembers to ring the bell, and the teachers don't know which classes they're teaching until that morning. The students have uniforms, but many don't bother to wear them; overall, the level of discipline seems pretty low. Yesterday, I had to break up a headlock contest at the back of the room, but the "real" teacher didn't even seem to notice.

I have to admit, I'm counting down my remaining days of teaching. I would happily stay in Peru forever, but you couldn't pay me to continue doing this job.

As usual, though, even when things are miserable, I'm still having a wonderful time. I've introduced Henry, Christine and Sara to the wonders of canasta, and they're all hooked. I now have to carry my double deck of cards with me wherever I go (which is mostly to Ulrike's anyway).

This coming weekend is my last full weekend in Peru, and I'm spending it in the jungle -- a side trip to Puerto Maldonado and the Tambopata preserve. Hopefully I'll soon be posting pictures of monkeys and parrots. Today I started taking anti-malaria pills, the major side effect of which is strange, vivid dreams. I'm looking forward to seeing what my brain invents.

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