by H Mac Wooten
Hola yall, my name is Gladys.
I’m the director, custodian, librarian, guidance counselor, dietitian, secretary, school nurse, receptionist, bookkeeper, oh and I also teach! I guess if we had school buses, I’d have to drive that also. Well, my day started out with disappointment. My 14 pupils (ranging from 6 years old to 14 years old) didn’t collect enough sticks sufficient enough for even a halfway decent fire for me to cook their lunch. So instead of TEACHING, it was FIEEEELD TRIIIIIP! We walked down the valley for about 2 kilometers until I thought we had enough twigs to heat some soup over an open fire in the corner of our cafeteria. Our cafeteria is presently located in the adobe outbuilding about 2 meters from our two room school. We have no present or future hopes of that location ever changing. It didn’t occur to me to teach as we walked and collected the twigs. That would have been a perfect opportunity to talk about the book report due next week or talk about trash and how to properly dispose of it . In this culture we just throw it on the ground or in the river. Everywhere you look there is plastic and wrappers and trash blowing across our beautiful landscape high in the Peruvian Andes.
One of the most beautiful places on God’s green earth. How did you dispose of trash 50 or 60 or 70 years ago…. before you had “Don’t Litter” signs everywhere and taught that “littering” was a bad thing … way back in grade school ? In our culture we just don’t teach that. Matter of fact, the trash is really unsightly and a serious health problem. The government doesn’t want to deal with the trash either. Even IF we had a trash can here at the school, there’s no one coming to collect it. In the town nearby there are maybe 4 trash cans in the town plaza but none to be found anywhere else in town. That really isn’t an issue because no one knows to put trash in the trash cans. Is just blows down the street and becomes someone else problem. I was wondering the other day about the Camal. The Camal is the local slaughterhouse for the area. They kill and process the cows, pigs and sheep for the campesinos. The waste products and raw blood is dumped directly into the river beside the Camal. It sure is convenient to have the Camal located next to the river. Someone was doing some critical thinking! I’m glad I don’t live downstream. Well, on second thought, I ….. am downstream from the Camal in the next town up the valley! On Mondays and Wednesdays the river runs red and the dogs are waiting beside the outlet to fight over a fresh chunk falling into the river! UUUUGH! The local town governments manage the Camals. I guess they know what they’re doing. I think they must be educated …. somewhere! The TeachaTeacher people were telling me about their Perumaculture division and plans to try to get the local government to convert the raw blood into blood-meal. It’s really high in nitrogen which is the major missing component in the soil here. Oh …. sorry, I kinda got off track. Preparing the soup takes up a large part of the morning. While its cooking, I go wash some spoons and bowls in the river beside the school. The river makes such a soothing sound as the wooosh fills our senses. Ok …. SOUPS_UP! The kids come in and find a place on the dirt floor. We don’t have table or chairs but they don’t mind, the soup is warm and it’s not like there’s a Hardees nearby. Now that their belly is full let’s get their minds full too. Back in the classroom I read from a book and they take notes. This is very similar to the way you listened to lectures in college. Actually very similar! They don’t interrupt with questions, they just write. It’s a fairly simple job. They all learn the same, the 6 to 14 year olds …. I guess. After all of this, my teaching time is really pretty short. Thank goodness we don’t have the extra pressure of evaluating their test scores every year. It’s not like they’re going to work at a Wal-Mart or somewhere. There’s plenty of agricultural work or if they finish near the top of their class, they might get a job driving a moto-taxi. There’s not a lot of stress associated with either of those jobs. Well, maybe more with the moto-taxi. Sometimes you have to make change and gas is about $5.00 a gallon! But after renting the moto-taxi, on a good day you might earn $7.00 or $ 8.00. That’s not a lot to raise a family on, but we don’t expect much here. How much stress did you have today? Were you worried about lesson plans, being observed, parent teacher conference, report cards and year-end testing? Oh, and don’t forget to tell your husband about that funny noise the car is now making and remember to go to the grocery store on the way home. OMG the price of a cuy (guinea pig) is just insane, isn’t it? Enough for now. Tomorrow I’m going to tell you about the missing soup pot. We don’t have a door on the cafeteria and I believe one of the neighbors stole the damn soup pot! NOW Darn-it, I have to check a little closer … could be that our scanning electron microscope might be missing too! If you see anyone walking around with a big black pot, lemmee know …. por favor! I swear, I think this job is going to be the death of me sometimes!
Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers here in Peru. Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.