|The main building of the school. In the middle, the church.
On the right, offices and older kids upstairs.
To the left outside of the shot 6th grade and below, the canteen and more playground.
|Some excited 5th graders|
Once at the colegio, we would beeline for the coffee and gather in the teacher’s lounge for the morning devotional. Luis Roberto, pastor for the school, led these sessions. Sometimes it was one long prayer for 10 minutes, other times a Bible passage (the topic for the past few weeks was Jonas fleeing God but also having faith when in the whale) accompanied by a short sermon or a discussion of life experiences. At 7:00am, classes began.
|Wonderful and full of coffee in the morning,
the teachers lounge bakes in the sun come afternoon,
unbearable even with a fan.
Laura and I would grab our markers and posters and head to our respective English classes to help out, me with prepa (basically kindergarten for 4, 5 and 6-year-olds) and segundo ciclo (4-6th grades), Laura with primer ciclo (grades 1-3) and tercer ciclo (grades 7-9). Our in-class time was punctuated by 2 recesses (yes! for everyone!!!) and 2 meals, lasting until 12:30pm. We got breakfast after the first class and a ‘refrigerio’ (snack) during the second recess. There is a little canteen in the schoolyard that sells breakfast, lunch, and any kind of sugar a kid with a quarter could desire. The women in the canteen and Velinda (more on her later) brought our meals to the teacher’s lounge, which was a nice way to get face time with some of the other teachers. There were always at least a couple to wander in, get some coffee and say ‘buen provecho’ (~ ‘bon appetite).
|3rd grade, I believe|
Class time in Soyapango was a real treat, too. Each class was 45 minutes, and often we would have back-to-back classes with the same grade (they teach english a total of 7 class periods a week). With Miss Evelin, the segundo ciclo teacher, I would often start the class with tongue twisters and maybe going over some vocabulary or call-and-response oral grammar stuff (I say it in the comparative, they say it in the superlative). With Miss Vicky and the little kids, just keeping them all doing pretty much the same thing at the same time was a real struggle. We ended up going outside a lot and running around.
|Laura’s kids a-thinkin’|
After a lovely lunch with Velinda and sometimes also Doris, we would either hang out at the colegio until Miss Claudia (our hostess) finished her after school homework help program, or we would go out on an excursion. We always ate dinner with Miss Claudia and I usually spent my evenings watching soap operas with her mother (a vice they quarrel about), uploading photos or doing endless emailing in preparation for going to Chile. The dinner conversations were often very interesting, reinforcing why home stays are so important for a program like this. Topics ranged from Claudia’s faith to living during the civil war to politics to meeting her husband. Gerardo and Fernando, her sons, were usually off playing computer games or pelota in the park by that time and her husband is only home once a week on Sundays, so it was just the three of us sitting around the table, Miss Claudia still in her work clothes but with the skirt unzipped (dinner will do that to a person), me in my running shorts and tank top (scandalous for El Salvador, but really, it was too hot), Laura asking a question to get the conversation going.
|A typical dinner: Beans, steamed plantain and cream (kind of like sour cream, but not sour, just cream)|
|Another slightly less typical dinner: Sausage, tomato sauce, potato salad and hardboiled egg|
By 10, we would all be in bed to prepare ourselves for the next day of vice-principalling the school (Miss Claudia), pelota and some learning squeezed in (Gerardo her son), Bachilerato and computer games (Fernando, the elder son), selling tortillas starting from ground 0 with un-milled corn (Miss Claudia’s mother) and trying to imaginatively teach English (Laura and I). Phew!