Monday, November 12, 2012

Hello all, just thought I’d walk you through a normal day here in San Dionisio. 
I normally get up between 5:45 and 6:30, depending on the day.  Many days, I am awaken by birds (chickens start early!), dogs, the neighbor’s radio, etc. before my alarm.  The radio is local and typically plays the same songs over the course of the morning, and has a soundbite telling the time about 20 times an hour.  There are also soundbites saying things like “Sabes estillo” and “Fin de semana” which interrupts songs and drives me crazy.  I only listen to the radio vicariously, as my neighbors oftentimes play it loud.  On Tuesday and Fridays, I work in a small rural school about an hour outside of town, so I get up early to get on my way.  I get to school around 7:15, where the school has a quick assembly and then we start class.  I teach third and fourth graders Natural Science, and I try to make class more dynamic than the lesson book.  It should be noted that we only have one lesson book for the classes, so it is relatively easy to stray from the sponsored plan.  For most of the classes I teach at that school, we have a bit of a conversation of the theme, and then I dictate a lecture for the kids to copy.  Then, I have the kids read back a sentence or two at a time, and I comment on its meaning in context.  We then give some questions to answer, maybe some drawing and explanations of diagrams.  For older kids, I try to get more into analysis and conjecture, but it is tough because the textbooks are very narrow and teachers are unwilling or unable to get much more information into their hands.  I also try to do some experiments, like tracking the sun, making fossil replicas, decomposition of various objects, planting of beans in various soils and liquids etc.
Tuesday I get done at 12, and get home by 1.  It’s laundry day for me, where I wash with a “lavendero” which is a table sized contraption with a washboard with a tub of water attached to it.  Washing is slow and boring; many other volunteers are disposed to paying a woman in town to wash their clothes for them, but I figure right now I have enough time, so it seems worth it to do my own.  I have my own plastic bucket, where I soak clothes and then take one out at a time, rub soap on them, scrub them against the washboard, then rinse the soap off.  The average Nicaraguan woman is more thorough than me, but I think my status as a white male makes me rather immune to many of the material criticisms common to Latin American cultures.  So, while my clothes may be slightly off colored and wrinkled, I have no ambitions to improve my technique at this point. 
On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, I teach at the urban school in the afternoons.   The noise level is always high at about 6:30 am, but by 8:30 it is much quieter, namely because my loud neighbors both work for the school system and have work starting at 8.  Sometimes their two kids start playing more contemporary pop around then, but other times everyone is out of the house.  I oftentimes hear the 10 year old boy, who I teach, whining like a champ.  Literally whining seems to be his preferred manor of communication.  Sometimes I make fun of him at school for it, but generally he is a good kid.  On the other side of my house lives a young couple with an 8 month old girl and one of their mothers.  They are much quieter. 
Monday morning is rather slow, and I generally work out a little, read, listen to podcasts, cook beans or something like that. On Wednesday morning, I teach basketball to some of the high schoolers.  The basketball/soccer court is right near my house, and I have also gone around 3 times a week recently to play around dinner time.  I can say that before, I rarely observed kids playing basketball, but once I started showing up with my ball, people have taken to playing much more.  Granted, double dribbles and lots of fouling is part of their game, but certainly the high school kids are improving a little bit each week.  On Thursday morning, I co-plan with one of my teachers before class for an hour or so.  
After school, I sometimes have time to play soccer at the fields, which are a little outside of town, about a half hr from my house and 15 min from the school.  The level is pretty relaxed and it is sometimes frustrating to show up only to have the majority of time spent watching others shooting against a goalie instead of playing.  At the beginning of league play, lots of people were playing, now the number is usually less than 10 who show up. 
I co-plan with one or two teachers in the evening, trying to get a good grasp on the subject we will be teaching and trying to guide the lesson plan to more amplified ends.  In total, I work with 6 teachers: 1 in 3rd, two in 4th, one in 5th, and two in 6th grades.  Because I do not teach each hour of Science and the classes have paced themselves differently, I sometimes teach the same class twice, or teach one aspect of a class and then teach the prior theme with the other section.  Sometimes my head spins a little trying to remember what we taught last time and where we were trying to take a certain theme, but generally my teachers are accommodating to my questions. 
By 7 pm I might not have done a whole ton during the day, but I am certainly tired.  As my site mate says, it gets late really early here.  I usually have some cooked beans on the stove which I heat up, cook some rice, and bring that into my host family’s house to eat.  They are generally in their own worlds, the mom lying in bed, cooking or chatting in one room with friends, while a few kids are watching the latest Disney shows like “ICarly” or something like that.  The older son is generally out at a friend’s house, and the mom’s nephew (his mom died of kidney failure 2 years ago) who sometimes sleeps over, come home around 9 or so.  Usually, I am already back home by then, and in bed around 8:15 to 9:15.

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