Thursday, July 9, 2009

Update Four

Semana Cuatro

So, I´m chilling in the Internet cafe with a Country Club (like a creme soda) and american chips, and it´s the end of the week for classes, and it feels good! Also, tonight we are going to the beach for a worship night.

Rachel´s party went really well. They loved the pizzadillas and ate them all. All the staff at the school love to play dominoes, so there was a lot of that going on (Dad, when they ask if I know how to play, I always tell them that I played with my dad when I was a kid). Saturday was a day of rest, so wonderful. We didn´t have to do a thing or go anywhere. That´s the first day like that the whole time we´ve been here. Sunday we prepped the house for the work team that´s here all this week. There are three groups within the team: construction, teaching, and sewing. This week 26 people have been living in the team house, which is a bit stressful at times as there is no where to go to be alone or have quiet. However, the team is really cool, and I am enjoying getting to know them and spending time with them. They all work so hard and have good attitudes, even when we haven´t had power (that´s been worse than usualy this week). I would not be as happy as they are.

The three of us interns have been thinking a lot this week. Rachel K and I experienced a little bit of culture shock when ´´the americans´´ showed up. I missed speaking spanish in our house because I´d gotten into the habit with the girls who were there before. It´s funny to see what we were probably like when we first got here and weren´t used to the norms. For me, it was hard to watch parts of the teaching seminars that the work team did for the dominican teachers in the school. One of the skits used the phrase ´´mixed modifier´´ which I´m pretty sure that none of the teachers knows. It´s hard to see how different the working base of knowledge is for us and for our dominican teaching peers, especially in math. It´s a really difficult position to be in/it´s hard to know how to approach it without making anyone feel embarrased because they don´t know how to do certain things. School in the states is such a different thing than school here. The average education level here is fourth grade, and the three of us are coming from 15+ years in the u.s. education system. It´s difficult to negotiate sometimes. Rachel K wished there had been more of a dialogue between the teaching team from the states and the dominican teachers instead of instruction. Rachel J thought they negotiated it really well, however. We´ve been talking a lot about it, it´s a big thing for us because we know both of the worlds. Some of the things that they taught were really good (Rachel J talked with one of them and got a ton of ideas for activities for her classes), and we hope that the teachers here do learn and implement the things. To me, the problem is much bigger than any one thing. Like all the hardest problems, it´s a combination of things forming one giant complex whatever you want to call it, and to work out any kind of solution or change will take a lot of work and time. But it´s not at all a hopeless situation.

Two things, I was talking with one of the other teachers with me in second grade about some of the kids who have potential, but they don´t have the tools that they need to do well. They can´t read or write, so anytime that we have a worksheet, it´s impossible for them to participate. Then they misbehave because they´re bored. She told me that there´s a special class for these kids, and that was great to hear! Something´s being done to catch them up. She also said that they´re different now than they used to be, also encouraging. The second, the work team has been doing a sewing class while they´ve been here, and it´s been really great. Some of the older girls have really taken to it. They have six or eight machines, and today they were working on quilts. I was in there today to translate (try to translate hah). This is part of Alberto´s vision for the project at Caraballo, that some of the older girls can learn how to do sew really well, and can teach it to the other students. They can sell the stuff they make. With the quilts, because they did them in teams of two, they´re going to be used for a quilt show for their parents and then they´ll use them to decorate the classrooms. So cool. The girls love it. It´s something that they can have pride in doing. Pray for the electricity tomorrow so that they can get the most out of the last day with the team.

We went to the old Haitian batay a few days ago. The sugar cane company built some of the houses and rented them out to the workers, but not a lot of people live there anymore. It gave me the creeps. I was really glad that we didn´t go just the three of us, because this place was like a tv commercial. Vic and the whole work team were with us. There´s a witchdoctor who lives there, and we actually saw him but didn´t know it till afterwards. Someone reliable said, ´´did you see how fat he is?´´ he didn´t seem that fat to me, but he was bigger than most people there. ´´it´s because he makes the people give him food or he says he´ll put demons on them.´´ I was ready to get out of there. We went to the first village again yesterday, and I loved it even more for its contrast. I saw a lot of my students, and I can´t wait to go back next week when I can spend more time there.

That´s pretty much it, we´re busy, we´re thinking, we´re learning, we´re praying. This weekend we´re going to the capital, Santo Domingo, with the rest of the summer interns to tour and hang out. We haven´t seen them since the beginning. I can´t believe how quickly the time is going. It´s unreal.

One more cool thing, I got to talk about the missionary Jim Elliot in geography today and about God, and I said a prayer at the end and my second graders repeated each phrase after me. So cool. It was fun to talk about someone who came from Wheaton, also, fun to use the kids in my class to act out canibalism and flying in an airplane.

Please keep praying for us, and thank you. God gives us the strength we need for every day.
Much love to you all,
Sarah (Rachel and Rachel)

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