Well it’s been a couple of days. I didn’t have much to say yesterday after school other than I’ve made it my personal vendetta to kill all of the fire ants in Belize. Yesterday, (Thursday) Doña Gloria made us burritos for lunch. That was pretty much the most exciting thing that happened until yesterday evening. We went to D Wing Stop which is the place to be on Thursday nights because of the wings, beer, and music. It’s like bdubs but it’s outdoors (like picnic tables under tents) and there’s a dj. This was a lot of fun. We went with Brandi and Meghan and their host mom and Valerie and her friend. We had lots of laughs at the old music from grade school and high school and the modern stuff as well. We realized karaoke needed to be in our future. On Friday, my day was quite humdrum. We did nothing this morning until about 9 (30 minutes after the students had gotten there). Then we took a math quiz whizz probably took the students longer than it should have. Then Mr. Garcia went over the quiz which was really just him talking to himself. Then we practiced one of these questions and it was time for language arts. I had not seen language arts instruction yet so I was excited to see how this worked. The students were matching 15 words with their definition using a dictionary and that was an hour and 15 minutes of instruction time…
We were dismissed a little early since we didn’t get our morning break and went home for lunch. Doña Gloria made salbutes and holy moley these were awesome. It’s a fried dough with cabbage and tomatoes and picketed jalapeños on top, like a slaw. We added some belizian hot sauce and they tasted so so good. With our extra time, Charlotte and I returned to our bunk beds and slept and by some small scale miracle woke up in time to return to school. We were exhausted. After lunch we took a science test. This test was 20 questions and took the students from lunch time (1:00) until break (2:20). Some students finished before the hour and a half but were given nothing to do. It was surprising to me that a simple front and back page test was allowed to go on for an hour and a half. And students were talking and giving answers to each other the whole time with no or little correction. This annoyed me to be honest. After a short conference with Dr. August about my experiences so far, I learned that in standard IV when they take the standardized country test, they never receive more than 50%. I’m pretty sure this means half the students pass and half don’t. That’s pretty shocking. There’s too much down time during the day and it’s very laid back. But that’s what they’re used to I presume.
Just some other differences I noticed and jotted down when the students and I were doing nothing:
They need a lot of grades in the grade book for the end of the term so that’s why all the quizzes and tests are happening…doesn’t really make sense since exams are in 2 weeks.
There’s no classroom management or time management. The country of Belize recently outlawed corporal punishment. The teachers used to be allowed to hit the children and so some still do. The students act as if they know they can no longer get in trouble and no repercussions occur for misconduct. Yikes. Our school, United Evergreen, isn’t too bad with misbehavior but the school where the other girls are at has some problem children. There are many fights and teachers don’t do much about it.
The schools remind me of Girl Scout camp. The rooms are kept open windows doors and all to keep it cool. It’s outdoorsy and the different grade levels are in different buildings with lots of grass (or currently mud) around. The bathrooms remind me of the latrines at camp also. The bathrooms are open and students take their toilet paper with them because I guess none is kept in the bathroom itself. They often smell too. For those of you that know me well and my dislike for public restrooms, no, I’ve never been in there.
Do I sound negative? I’m not at all. I’m humbled by this experience and have seen some things to incorporate in my own classroom. I have also seen why some things we have are put into practice and emphasized. I’ve learned to appreciate the diversity of these classrooms and the classrooms in the United States. This is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and not at all what I expected. I’m not sure what I expected but this is much more.
While I want to cry every day it rains and makes the mud deeper and the walk to school more miserable, I’m glad to be here and I’m excited to see what the weekend has in store! Our plans are to go to Xunantunich and Cahol Pech (Mayan temples) and possibly Clarissa Falls. Some of these excursions might not be possible though because the river will be high. (Stupid rain). But we will make the best of it and go to downtown San Ignacio and the zoo if it’s too rainy. On Sunday our plan is to go zip lining. (Mom and Dad, I love you….just in case it ends badly 🙂 ) our plan also includes cave tubing but odds are the water levels will be too high and they won’t allow us in the cave. The rain is putting a real damper on things here.
Some random photos:
A student bought me these fried chip things during lunch. It’s like a puff chip with ketchup on it…in a bag. Not my fave. Just as the onion soup was not my fave.
The next picture is of the salbutes we had for lunch today. The next two photos are of the wing place and the new beer we tried while there. Apparently not many beers are allowed to be imported or made here because Belikin wants to be the sole provider of beer here.
Then there’s some pictures of the lemon merengue pie Valerie made for us! The garnaches we had for dinner tonight and the pupusas which is a salvadorian dish. 🙂