Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If You Can't Beat 'Em

My first month at Burra had been rough. The kids were eating me alive, and just as I was questioning how I would make it through the school year I was called into the Principal's Office. I felt like a teenager as I sat waiting with my head hung low, wondering if I was about to be thrown out of the Teacher Exchange Program. A smile had started to cross my face as I began to dream about returning to the comforts of my own, non-graffiti filled, home back in New Mexico when Don Beschit's voice brought me back to reality.
By all indications I was to be saved the humiliation of being thrown out of the program I had worked so hard to become a part of. However, a horror of a different type was placed before me and; on Friday I was to help chaperone the 5th and 6th grade field trip. I tried to put a positive spin on the upcoming event by telling myself that the day would provide me an opportunity to first-handedly observe how the other teachers interact with and control their students.
My plans of using the excursion as a time to glean some useful tools to take back to the classroom didn't go as expected. I cowered on the sidelines as I watched 80 menacing students take over the narrow, cobblestone street of the town we were visiting. My mouth gaped open as I watched some of the little beasts climb on parked motos, bang their fists on cars, and push other pedestrians out of the way. Of my five colleagues, only one tried to gain control over the ringleaders of the out of control mob--the others ignored the situation that was unfolding before us. To my relief we arrived at the doors of the tapestry museum we had come to visit. Unfortunately, things didn't get much better. I tried to hide amongst the small group of students that were listening to the curator, but my attention was on the other students who were chatting incessantly, touching everything in sight, and throwing spit wads at the woven treasures. To this day I can not understand how we did not get thrown out of the museum. Nor could I comprehend how the teachers allowed such behavior. Was I the only one that felt guilty for the student's behavior and embarrassment for the school we represented?  Perhaps such behavior was accepted in my host country's culture.
I must admit the day was not a complete bust. Our lunch time picnic was a real eye-opener, as I learned that turning cheek is not the only tool used in coping with unruly creatures.  For over an hour the students were released in an enclosed park to do as they pleased, while the teachers headed to the kiosk and drank several beers. What could I do. When I was handed the first Cruz Campo I silently toasted--If you can't beat the students, join the teachers.

If you look under the seats you can see how some of bottles were hidden for the photo.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Maya, wow what an experience and introduction. It's interesting learning about your teacher exchange experiences. Looks like you all enjoyed your break from the unruly students. :)