Friday, March 28, 2008

semana santa

I haven´t written in a while because last week was Semana Santa (Holy Week) so everything was closed all week. A lot of people take advantage of Semana Santa to travel and go to the beach, which makes it not a very good week to travel because the buses are really full and everywhere you go it´s really crowded. I stayed in my site and spent time with my neighbors and I spent a couple days with my host family. We sat outside in the cabaƱas, in hammocks, near the fish ponds, and my host mom made roasted chicken and grilled fish and beans and tortillas and salad. It was nice until it started pouring and it got really cold. We had 2 and a half cold rainy days and then it got really warm and sunny again. I also painted my bedroom a purple-blue color, which is really pretty. Easter wasn´t that excited. I thought there would be processions and things, and I guess there were in some towns, like Santa Rosa, but nothing much happened here. When I lived in Costa Rica, there was a long procession through town for Easter, and the kids and adults were all dressed up in pretty costumes and they had drums and it was really pretty. There’s no Easter Bunny in Honduras, no painting eggs or chocolate bunnies or jelly beans. I had a nice Easter, it was a beautiful day and I ate tilapia with my host family, but it didn’t feel like Easter.

The kids at the school in town have already collected a lot of plastic bottles to recycle. I went to the school this week and talked to all the afternoon classes about recycling. I don’t know if I’ve explained this before, but the medium to large size schools have two shifts of classes- in the morning grades 1-3 and in the afternoon grades 4-6. The smaller schools, which only have like 2 teachers, just have class all day. Some of those small schools only have one teacher for up to 50 or 60 students. So I’m going back a different day to speak to the morning classes. Also, in all the schools the students have uniforms, white button-up collared shirts, and navy blue slacks or skirts. The education style is different than in the US. Here, there is more focus on repetition and copying things down, and less focus on critical thinking or creativity. If, for example, the teacher shows an example drawing of a picture of a house and asks all the students to draw a house, they will copy the example. There’s a lack of thinking outside of the box. Most of the teachers have only high school degrees and many of them, especially the grade school teachers, are very young, just out of high school.

Right before Semana Santa, I went to the high school in Cucuyagua, one of the towns right next to mine, and I met a teacher who was very supportive of my recycling project. He is working with a group of about 50 students who are graduating this year but who need to do a project to graduate, so recycling is going to be their project. I met with a small group of them and we formed a plan with a timeline. This Saturday I’m going to give them a charla (a talk) about recycling and then they are going to give the charla to the other classes. In addition to the recycling, they are going to use organic waste to make a compost pit to make fertilizer. I’m really excited about this group. They seem like very hard working students. It makes up for the high school in my town. The director/principal said he doesn’t want to do the recycling project because there isn’t room in the school to store the recyclebles and he doesn’t want the students bringing in more garbage because there’s already too much garbage in the school. I was pretty mad and frustrated when I heard that. Maybe he has a point, but he’s not looking out for the future or the good of the community. So I told the Cucuyagua high school they have to do this project well to show up the high school here.

I’m also trying to work on things with the library. My town has a Reicken Library, which is a group of libraries spread throughout Honduras, funded by an American businessman who was a Peace Corps Volunteer, I think in Honduras, but I’m not sure. They are very nice libraries, small by US standards but very pretty and well designed. The Reicken Foundation has a very strict selection process and criteria for choosing communities to get libaries. The community has to form a committe to solicit the library. The community has to provide the land, labor, and afterward they have to take care of the maintanence of the library, and pay the librarian. The library in my town opened in October, right after I got to site. The library has a finance committe and a support committe, formed by community members, and they have to program all kinds of activities. A representative from Reicken visits every few weeks to see how the library is doing and they give capacitacions to the librarians and work with the committees. Each library has a few computers with free internet (which I love), but the committee has to come up with fund raising to support the free internet. I’d like to give classes on how to research on the internet. Reicken Libraries also have meeting rooms, complete with a projector, which are available to any group in the community by request. Kids use the library the most. I hardly ever see any adults in any of the Reicken Libraries, but the librarian is trying to change that. So I’m really lucky my town has one of these libraries. It’s a really nice place and a great opportunity for the community, especially with its programming.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Books I´ve Read

I´m posting a list of books I have read. I havent been reading that much since I moved into my new house, but in Oct-Dec I was reading so much. Some of the books I brought with me, a few were sent to me, and most I borrowed from other volunteers.
Books I have read since coming to Honduras, in order of being read, with country of the setting in parantheses:

Pillars of the Earth (12th century England)
*True Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (all over the world)
Snow (Turkey)
*The Piano Tuner (Burma)
Mosquito Coast (Honduras)
News From Paraguay (Paraguay)
*The Bookseller of Kabul (Afghanistan)
An Open Heart (Dalai Lama philosophy/theology)
The Other Boleyn Girl (16th century England)
The Little Prince
*A Thousand Splendid Suns (Afghanistan)
Prep (United States)
American Gods (United States)
Memoirs of a Geisha (Japan)
The Boleyn Inheiratance (16th century England)
Dreaming in Cuban (Cuba)
Honor Lost (Jordan)
Zorro –in Spanish (early 1800s California and Spain)
The Reader (Germany)

* These books I would highly reccomend to anyone, and which were especially useful to me from a Peace Corps context. There are a few other books on the list which I really enjoyed but I would only reccomend to certain people, so ask me if you're looking for a good book. I´ve also read a lot of magazines, mostly Newsweek, The Economist, and National Geographic in Spanish.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The recycling project is moving along. Last week I visited the school in the town next to me and talked to every afternoon class, which is 7, so about 250 kids. I also went to the aldea, where the school is I was visiting last school year, and I gave them the recycling talk, about 35 kids. It all went well and the kids are excited to start recycling. The director is getting cans this week so we can begin. So I´ve been pretty busy going to all the schools trying to organize things. On Friday I had the meeting with one of the patronatos (neighborhood committees) that got canceled last Sunday because no one showed up. Well, they didn´t show up again, just one guy. On the other hand, last Monday I had a meeting with a different patronato, which is mostly women, and everyone showed up, and on time, and we had a good, productive meeting. So it just depends. I´ve been trying to post pictures, but the internet is just so slow. Soon hopefully.