El Sexto

As I walked into the classroom with Juana, all I heard was gibberish: a word here, a word there, but mostly lots of noise as the kids settled into their desks.

The teacher wore jeans and a t-shirt and she quickly established order: Literature was first. The students took out these mini notebooks that looked almost like my old composition books, complete even with stickers and drawings/colors.

Before the teacher began to teach, she gave the kids a talking to– from what I could gather, there had been some sort of antagonizing that had happened between the boys and girls. She spoke to them about how they’d been given a chance to succeed, and it was up to them whether they worked hard and graduated at the end of the year, or if they goofed off and ended up not passing their classes. It was much like a talk my class might have received from a teacher when I was that age– the only difference was that what waited me when I went home was not a shack. It was not hunger. It was not a dirt floor nor no running water. Again, not much changes in sixth grade, but there were still acute differences from my experience years ago.  Most importantly, I didn’t have nearly as much riding on sixth grade as these boys and girls seemed to.   Continue reading

Sixth grade doesn’t change much

Sixth grade was such an interesting year for me: super small class (only 5 girls + the boys), incredible teachers, baby brother, and finally an entry in the science fair.  Sixth grade for Juana, Maria, Victoria, and the other students I met at St. Francis Coll is a very different experience than mine was; at the core, however, the similarities outweigh the differences.

The day I worked with machetes began with an opportunity to sit in with classes at St. Francis Coll for half of us (the other half went to the nursery); I went to the school, as my Spanish was a bit better than Jen’s, and she accompanied the other group to the nursery. We dispersed the teenagers and the other adult into classrooms with children in them, and I waited in the library for about 15 minutes until the 6th graders returned from their physical education class (really, just playing soccer). Continue reading