|La Shita: pretty much all there is in town, the high school (green) |
and the elementary school (blue) and then the TAMBOS building that you can't see.
The people live in surrounding areas.
|The full combi; this is after it cleared out a bit actually.|
I catch the combi where it turns off the main road to Jesús and takes the dirt road to La Shita. Yes, it's a dirt road. It's one full hour on a dirt road, a terrible dirt road, packed in a combi with more people than actually fit in said combi. I leave Jesús at 6:40am on Mondays and Fridays to catch this terrible combi that drives up a terrible road so that I can teach terrible children. Well, the children could be worse, I guess, but the ride is pretty awful. The worst part may be that the teachers have to pay for this transportation Monday through Friday and if they have to stay longer to teach remedial classes, they have to stay the night in the freezing school or walk back to the road between Cajamarca and Jesús, which would take about 2-3 hours.
I'm teaching cuarto y quinto grados (kind of like juniors and seniors in high school), and let me tell you if you think our kids in the US are unprepared for life after high school just come to Jesús and you'll be thanking your lucky stars for the educational system in the States. These kids can barely pay attention for 5 minutes much less understand concepts like a business plan, mission, or cost analysis. After watching how this school functions I realize it's not the kids' fault--they're trained to take celebrations more seriously than school, there's very little discipline in most classrooms, many of the parents set a less-than-desirable example, and the commitment level of even the teachers is low. How can I expect the kids to be good students when they have no standard for what that is?
|My students looking like they're being studious, |
but they're just copying what I have on the board
as fast as they can so they can go to recess.
They're also really cold because of the wind
coming through the broken windows.
Either way I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated with the broken system, with the disorganized school, the loud-mouthed kids, the long dusty ride, my class schedule changing every day I'm there, the broken windows in the classrooms that let the freezing wind in, the obsession with fútbol (soccer), the teachers wearing track suits or sweatpants that aren't PE teachers, the lack of actual teaching, the amount of bullying and hitting that goes on between the kids, and the list goes on.
I was just fine, but I guess after a month of experiencing all this I'm having a hard time just swallowing it. I'm a doer--I want to DO something to help. I'm an extremely practical human being. But there's only so much I CAN do here and that hurts. I feel powerless to help and just keep sinking deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole.
|Some of the kids "playing volleyball." They|
don't know how to play proper volleyball
(says the former volleyball player).
Every Monday and Friday is a brain-exhausting, claustrophobia-inducing, heatstroke-causing, patience-trying experience, but without sacrifice there's no service. And the director, doctor, and teachers have shown me pieces of the kind of person I want to be: generous, sacrificial, and patient. So at least I'm learning, even if no one else is.