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

What do you do after a long day of concrete-making?

…You learn that a machete is actually much harder to work with than it appears–pick axes, too, are much harder than I’d ever imagined.

The ancient supervisor who was guiding us, showed the teens how to use machetes: to watch him work them, you would think that machetes were simplistic yet sharp.  When I finally put my hand to the machete, I was stymied.  It was awkward and the bending over to swish it as you flicked your arm/wrist quickly resulted in a painful back.

Machetes, however, match nicely with this entry from my journal: “All of life is about being born–birthing into our fullness of being. When you come into rhythm with your nature, things happen of themselves.” See, the thing about machetes, is that as you use them in the correct way, as you use the stick to gather the grass so you can swipe at the roots, you come into rhythm. It’s the rhythm of the machete, of machete-ness. And, let me tell you, it’s a sweet rhythm: grass piles up in the clumps that we see in the United States, usually leftover from lawnmowers; the swing of your arm and your body align into motion that’s seamless.  This was the same motion from the concrete buckets assembly line of the day before, a motion that my body knew, even though I’d never ever picked up a machete or swung concrete buckets.  And in that smooth motion, is a sweet spot of productivity, of ease, of quality. Continue reading