(Good thing I just reviewed commands with my spanish teacher... I´m getting more mileage out of "ven aca" "hagan una cola" etc than I ever thought possible.)
So, remember Homeroom? It´s back, in Ecuadorian form. I started my volunteering today at the tutoring center of CENIT. AH, being thrown into an unfamiliar mass of kids with ZERO training or introduction, with a bunch of well-meaning 20 somethings who similarly don´t know what they´re doing. Is it disturbing to anyone else that this felt comforting? Back in my element. Basically we chase around some kids, make them do their homework, and then play with them. Really, they´re much better behaved than the Homeroom kids in that they generally actually do their homework, probably mostly because they´re a bit younger (6-9 vs 7-12) and because their homework is insanely easy. Also, our session is in the morning, for the kids that attend school in the afternoon, so they aren´t tired of being in school all day. (In Quito, kids generally attend school in the morning or afternoon, but not both. Not quite half a day, but shorter days.) Besides not being any help whatsoever for the little boy who had a writing worksheet where he had to provide the vocabulary word for a picture, it´s shockingly easy to help these kids in a foreign language. I even got to help this little boy (with the world´s worst spech impediment, since he was missing several front teeth) read the story of "Pinocho". Beyond the scholastic part of the morning, my one pathetic year of soccer seems to have imparted me enough skill to competently kick around a ball with a couple of 6 year old boys in a futbol crazy country. Check me out.
The other volunteers working with me are really nice, particularly one Irish girl. It´s definitely a mix of nationalities but we all speak English... it was superweird to speak English for more than a couple of sentences at a time. Only one of the 5 or 6 of us working in this particular program has been there longer than a couple days... but he´s been there 2 months and still doesn´t know all the names of the 15 kids! Fortunately, they were all deighted at my overqualification and want me to give them some guidance, so I won´t be totally out of line when I insist on implementing some changes. Most importantly we actually need to keep track of the kids... as in have a list of their names and take attendance when they come, and make sure we have all of them when we leave. (We walk over to another site for the session.) As it is now, the kids just run wild (by which I mean run in and out of streets, stores, etc, in a superbusy part of the city) eventually getting to the site. Particularly, when leaving, they run off without telling anyone, and the volunteers don´t even know when or which kids have gone. I don´t care what country or program I´m in, I´m not being responsible for kids and not having some minimal way of keeping track of them. So basically the volunteers just run the program, there´s a coordinator person but she just sort of assigns people and deals with scheduling and stuff and isn´t onsite. And there´s a ¨"teacher" who comes too, but she seems to just sort of pick one student to work with and otherwise she´s totally useless. And I certainly understand how it goes with places like this - take understaffed, underqualified, and mix in tons of turnover, hence everyone is just trying to keep their head above water. I´m not saying I´m some fabulous tutoring program consultant who can guarantee magical results, but I´m going to try to institute SOME type of order. Again, I´ll keep you updated.
Unrelated pop culture highlights of the past 24 hours:
1) Watching the commentary on the first episode of the Lost DVD, and finding out that everyone calls Matthew Fox "Foxy." Maybe you aren´t as amused as I am. Or maybe you are a Party of 5 nerd and you already knew that.
2) Not being able to keep myself from stopping and watching several songs when I walked past some electronics store that was showing Nirvana unplugged in NY on a giant screen tv. Blissful sigh... particularly satisfying after I realized the other day that I did not bring said classic recording with me.