Again no time for relaxed breakfast. We had peanut butter and jelly fajitas (the peanut butter was excellent, by the way, and that’s something that matters to me), then headed down to the middle school to bring stuff to Magda, the English teacher. She had asked us for supplies to help her in her quest to engage and motivate her middle school students to work hard in learning English. We found a lot of flash cards with pictures and the words in both English and Spanish. The cards had vocations, antonyms, animals, numbers, etc. We talked with her about games the kids could play with the cards that would be fun and enrich their vocabulary.
We also visited with the headmaster of the school, a man I had met last year and at that time discussed the possibility of pairing a USA school with their school. We talked again about that and hopefully we can make it happen this year.
After that, we had to make a plan to deliver our last single library. We needed to find a one-room school so that one library would fit well. We decided to drive off in a new direction to an area we had not previously visited. We got to the town, found the school, but discovered that it was closed! I wasn’t panicked, because sometimes the school will close if the teacher is sick, since there is no such thing as a substitute teacher in those areas. The next school we found was open. The teacher was outside the school in a large garden, hoeing a row of vegetables. That seemed odd, but I told him that we had books and he invited us in. The students gathered in one room and I looked at them, a dozen of so, and realized that there were no little ones. It turns out that this was a middle school, and that the primary school we had just left was closed, as were all of the primary schools in the area – the teachers were off to a teacher conference. What to do??
After a short discussion, we decided to leave the library with the middle school teacher to give to the primary school on Monday. In the meantime, of course, I was sitting in front of a dozen students who were clearly salivating over the possibility of BOOKS. We opened the bin and invited them to have a look. It was so sweet. They dove in with all the gusto of the little ones, but they took it really seriously. They each picked a book quickly, then went immediately back to their desks and started reading. The room was silent, but for the sound of pages turning. I looked at those kids and realized we weren’t looking at kids who were happy to have books in their hands, we were looking at kids who were starved for books in their hands. Knowing that the books would leave in a few days, they didn’t want to waste a moment. It made my heart hurt. I promised them a middle school library on my next visit.
A cool thing about this school was that garden we saw at the beginning. The older teacher was a master gardener, and had taken it on himself to add horticulture to the curriculum. The garden was the responsibility of the students, along with all the learning necessary to be successful – using math to calculate area and planting dates, science to evaluate best methods, pests, pesticides, etc., economics to decide about marketing and price, along with all the little pieces of wisdom that are necessary to be a successful grower. The kids ran to the garden to give us lemons, red grapefruit and a huge, knobby, green, sticky plant they called gava. We accepted a large bag of fruit and headed back.
It’s sad to leave. The people here are polite and generous, cheerful and musical, friendly and reasonable. We will miss them when we fly out on Saturday.