Saturday, November 20, 2010
Greetings from warm and sunny Oconahua!
This time of year has beautiful weather here in Mexico. This week we’re having highs in the 80s and lows in the 40s and not a drop of rain. Weather-wise, this is probably the best time of year to be here. It will be quite a shock to my system a month from now when I suddenly land in Kentucky in the middle of December.
My work here is going pretty well. I’m nearly finished with the data collection that I came down here to do. Work has begun at the archaeological site that I’m living at, so I’ve been getting to go outside and play in the dirt some, as well. It has been nice to get outside to enjoy the great weather and to do some excavation rather than sitting indoors all day studying the ceramics.
For the last couple of months, I have been giving English lessons to some kids here. I have two students who come regularly—they show up a couple of times a week for lessons and sometimes come by on other days to chat or to have me practice flash cards with them. It has been a lot of fun for me, and they are really learning a lot of new English words and phrases. Their favorite lessons are colors and numbers. They never seem to tire of having me go over the number cards I made or naming the colors for me.
They are teaching me a lot about childhood and education here, as well. I’d never been able to figure out the school schedule here, since I would see kids going to or from school at all sorts of hours. I’d also wondered why it always seemed like half the kids in town weren’t in school on any given day. It turns out that they do half days for the elementary school here. The students (or their parents) get to choose between going to school in the morning or afternoon. So at any given time, at least half the kids in town really aren’t in school. They either attend from about 8:30 to noon or 2:30 to 6:00 five days a week. I was pretty surprised to hear that they go to school so few hours each day. I think when they get to high school age, they go for the full school day like we do in the US. At that age, quite a few of the kids, particularly ones who plan to go on to college, will go to a larger town to go to a prep school instead of attending the local secondary school.
My photos this week are of the kids I’m tutoring and the schools here in Oconahua. The school in the picture is the local elementary school. It is pretty typical of the elementary schools in this part of Mexico. The buildings tend to be one story with windows all along the walls of the classrooms and with doors opening out onto the school’s courtyard area rather than into a hallway as is more typical in the US. Like most buildings here, they don’t have heat or air conditioning. My other pictures are of the two girls I tutor most often. The older girl, Liz, appears at the food stand where we ate lunch the day I took her to Teuchitlan with me to visit the archaeological site there. The younger girl, Anahi, appears in a photo at today’s parade in town. She is the girl with a doll strapped on her back and holding up the banner.