Friday, 13 September 2013

Junk Food for a Price

Two weeks ago, the annual Central American Teachers’ Institute was held right here in El Chal. This blog post is mostly about that event. Some people may have looked at it as a big pain because of all the preparation and work, but the fact that we were able to host 80 people in El Chal is what other people called a “dream come true.”

In A Nutshell…

On Monday (August 26th), I spent some of the afternoon helping Douglas get the “mobiliario” ready for the teachers institute. We borrowed a whole bunch of chairs and tables from a cake place for the cafeteria. Douglas and I were in charge of getting all the necessary chairs, tables, desks etc. and also the field trip at the end of the week. On Tuesday morning, we set up all the tables and chairs in the two basico classrooms for the “comedor.” By the time it was finished and we had fancy tablecloths on the tables, well… it was a pretty sweet comedor. We opened up the divider in the two old classrooms to make a place for all the topics to be held. We then arranged the desks in a large semi-circle so that all the listeners could be nice and close to the speaker. I, of course, also got my snack shop ready, hoping that the people coming from all over Central America would be starving hungry for junk food most of the weekend. I was hoping that they would come running from the vans that the arrived in to buy stuff from my store, and that I would make all kinds of profit. It didn’t quite happen like that, though. Apparently, people would rather eat a good snack for free than eat junk food for a price. I don’t know what this world is coming to. I did manage to sell about a quarter of the stuff that I bought, and after selling a bunch of it to the school cooks for a “buen precio” and eating some of it, I pretty much broke even. So there are no hard feelings to any of the Central American teachers that came.

Our awesome "comedor"
My awesome snack shop

The institute got off to a great start on Tuesday night. We had an introductory session that which included “get to know each other” activities that weren’t even that bad. Afterwards, we played volleyball for a while. Every evening after the final session, I had the job of taking six ladies to Seño Enma’s house, about a ten-minute drive out of El Chal. On Thursday evening, I accidently drove a good three kilometers past the turn-off for her house. The six ladies thought it was just hilarious. I found it mildly funny.

Throughout the week, different people had sessions and spoke on various topics. The sessions varied from “How to teach first grade” to “Science experiments” to “Effective discipline” to “How to change a student’s negative attitude.” I found most of the sessions to be very interesting, useful, and practical. However, I think I would have gotten a little more out of them if they were in English, since Spanish is still not my “mother tongue.” I don’t know if it even qualifies as one of my “tongues” yet, but we’re getting there. I didn’t sit in on quite every minute of every session because I occasionally had to go run an errand or pick up food for a meal. All the meals that were served were top notch thanks to Aron and Gloria.

Music class

Every day, there was a time slot for activities as well. Some of my favorite activities were the ones that Hermano Lewis was in charge of. He had all the teachers line up in a semi circle on the cement pad outside and repeat what he chanted while clapping. The first one started with “Cuando yo a la selva fui!” It was about a trip to the jungle and a very strange animal. The other activity he had us do was similar to the English “Going on a Bear Hunt.” It was rather amusing seeing all the teachers and pastors swimming as fast as they could to get away from the terrifying bear. Another fun activity was a drawing contest. We were divided into six teams and told to draw, color, and label a map of Central America without looking at a real map. As Uriah was explaining the contest, I studied the map of Central America that was on the front of our programs and tried to commit it to my photographic memory. Later, when we were drawing the map, I discovered that I do not have a photographic memory. Our group tied for second place.

Drawing the map
Presenting the maps

Douglas and I planned to take whoever wanted to go to Tikal for the field trip on Saturday. However, due to the lack of people that wanted to go (zero people signed up) we decided to cancel the trip. Over all though, I thought that the event was a success, and that every one in El Chal who helped to organize it did a really good job. Especially the people that were in charge of the “mobiliario.” As long as I’m some sort of teacher living in Central America, I will do my best to make it to the annual Central American teacher’s institute. 

All the Guatemalan teachers with their diplomas

Top 5 Highlights…

>>Going to Douglas’s for “elotes.” One evening, Douglas invited Lucio and I over for some corn on the cob. It wasn’t quite as sweet as fresh Ontario sweet corn, but it was half bad.
>>The volleyball games. Every evening after the last sessions, we’d play volleyball for a while. No later than the curfew of 9:30 of course.
>>Jumping on the trampoline in the rain. Stephan brought his trampoline over to the mission for the week so that the kids could keep themselves entertained while the adults listened to sessions. The trampoline stayed at the mission the following week. One afternoon a few of us were jumping on the trampoline when it started to rain. We didn’t let that stop us.
>>Filming a movie with the Basico class. One afternoon, Wesley took his class to a field near Benj’s new house to film the story of Joseph. I went along to help with the filming. We didn’t finish the whole thing yet, but it was a lot of fun.
>>Listening to the boys tell there stories of their adventures. Danny Beachy and Benj took a group of boys up the San Pedro River to some land that Benj has. They spent a week in the jungle learning about survival, endurance, and God. The following Sunday morning, the boys gave a little program and each of them talked a bit about their experiences. Kevin’s was especially funny. He talked about the morning it was his turn to make breakfast. He made scrambled eggs and potatoes. He thought he remembered seeing his mom cook the potatoes first before adding the eggs, but he didn’t remember how long so he just put everything in at once. By the time he served breakfast, the eggs were burnt and the potatoes were barely cooked. The week sounded like a lot of fun and I think I’d like to go the next time. 

Top 5 Quotes…

“Fumigators!! They can go out immediately from where I am!” – Jeffery (after he came bursting in the door while we were having breakfast one morning)

“Yeah, but why would God have put Noah and his family safely in the ark and then capsized it?” – Lucinda

Street vendor: “Shoe shine, mi amigo?”
Me: “No, gracias.”
Street vendor: “Smoke weed?”

“Do you want an iced coffee? They’re just like McDonalds in the summertime. One dollar.” – Douglas

Police officer: “Does your seatbelt not work?”
Neil: “Oh yeah, it works. I’m just not wearing it.”

Spanish Vocabulary…

Maíz (mah EES) – it means “corn”

Memory tool: when you say “maíz” it sounds kind of like the English word “mice.” Mice eat corn… right?

Fun Facts…

>>September 15th is Guatemala’s “Independence Day.”

>>The climate in the small country of Guatemala can vary a lot depending in what region you’re in.

>>Guatemalan’s have many parades to celebrate their independence.

>>It’s been way to long since I’ve had a coke

More to Add…

No one came from Canada to claim their free oreos. The good news is… I still think I have a few left and I am willing to extend the offer for another week! This week I am in Antigua studying more Spanish and this weekend there is a youth institute. Should be plenty to write about next blog!

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