Three lessons today: First, not all ATM cards in the USA are created equal. Most will work internationally, but the one that we are using for our trip will not. It took most of the day for it to arrive, but I was able to arrange a transfer to the nearest Elektra, a hardware, housewares, and furniture store complete with a bank. On the walk there, I passed the headquarters for the teachers' union. When I told the man who was selling pirated books that I was a teacher in the USA, he treated me with a lot of respect and said, "Please visit us again, maestro." This mural is painted across the street.
Second, some children work to learn responsibility, others because their parents are working. In the late afternoon, we took a taxi about ten miles out of town to see El Tule, the gigantic Montezuma Cypress tree that is estimated to be around 1,600 years old. I liked the 'niña guía', Leidy Adriana, who so willingly showed us all the shapes within the tree for a tip. Her mom sat on the bench behind us. Her mom kept coaxing her to speak up, and to have self confidence. We finally made it around the whole tree, and Leidy Adriana earned her tip.
Finally, I liked this sign. No matter how far we grow, our roots still say the same. We need to know where we came from, and always remember that even as we expand and extend across the miles and years.
Today, we visited Monte Albán. We had an excellent guide, who is the contracted guide for National Geographic Oaxaca. The first time I visited Monte Albán, I had just turned 22 years old. Now, at age 44, I've been there a few times. But, this beautiful, misty day, was special.
Tonight, we stumbled upon another Calenda, the street parades that lead up to Guelaguetza. It started raining just as the Calenda began, but no-one's spirits were dampened.
We talk a lot about wrap around services in education. Those are things like after school programs, free and reduced lunches, breakfasts at school, and parent academies. Today we visited the Centro Comunitario Canica, a non-profit organization that provides wrap around services to children in Oaxaca City from ages 3 - 18. The majority of these children are products of dangerous living situations or where there are 7 or more living in one house. 50% of the kids work, and 49% of those accompany their parents to work. The children's parents mostly work at stop lights washing windshields, or work in the Central de Abastos - the major distribution center of the region. To participate in CANICA, parents must make a commitment to attend parent meetings as well as the students to attend school.
CANICA began because two people were eating dinner in an upscale restaurant here in Oaxaca. Two children came in selling something and one, a little girl, got a bloody nose. One of the diners tried to take her to the bathroom and the restaurant workers would not let her go. The two people were so upset about the level of poverty and lack of services, that they began CANICA. That was in 1992.
We have six more sessions scheduled at CANICA. I think that we will all leave changed.
Photo courtesy of Angelia Moore, LISTO 2017
Today was day one of the 2017 LISTO Program. Where yesterday I met in an empty Ollin Tlahtoalli, today it was filled with teachers. The owner of Ollin gave an orientation to his school, speaking about how sometimes identities are placed on us, and at other times we choose them. For example, an indigenous child may not choose to identify herself with the community she was born into, while another may strive to recapture his roots. And both are okay. Ollin Tlahtoalli, two Nahuatl words, mean language in motion, and we were in motion today. From the school, through the markets, through churches and finally to a fantastic midday meal. At the risk of being redundant, I'm posting yesterday's picture, 24 hours later. What a difference one day can make!
Dawn Wink, head of the Teacher Licensure Program at Santa Fe Community College, arrived today. We had lunch and excitedly talked about the coming weeks. We both feel that this year could be a very special year. The energy of the group is great, the space that we will be using for classes is inviting, and we have an intriguing internship that we have created. More to come on that in the next days.
One thing about the United States, we feel really secure if we have everything planned out. I have spent months trying to figure out logistics and communicate them to the people at the Ollin Tlahtoalli where our classes will take place. I arrived this morning for a meeting to finalize plans, and over the course of the next two hours, the entire calendar changed. At first, I felt a certain resistance inside to everything that I had meticulously put together over the last months. But it soon began to feel good to be able to sit down with another person and collaborate in the same physical space. That real time collaboration is something that is sorely missing in the United States. In education circles, we typically lock ourselves in our classrooms and we try not to even interact with the teachers that have differing ideas. In business, sometimes Skype conversations help. But there is nothing like face to face dialogue where both parties just want the best for everyone. And in Mexico, there are hundreds of face to face interactions every day. I like that about this place.
The Brindle Foundation is a small foundation that began in 2002. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Brindle Foundation does a great deal to support Early Childhood. Part of their support has been to aid Early Childhood educators receive good education.
Here are some facts. A level I teacher in New Mexico begins at $34,000 or $36,000 a year. According to Early Childhood Teacher, the average kindergarten teacher in New Mexico earns $48,540 a year, while an average Early Childhood teacher earns $26,590. So, asking a teacher to invest 10% of his or her income for continuing education is a difficult task. The Brindle Foundation gratefully offered to sponsor a number of Early Childhood and Pre-K teachers for the second year in a row, making it possible for them to receive excellent continuing education with us in Oaxaca. Thank you, Brindle Foundation!
Even though Ciudad Juarez is just a few hundred yards from El Paso, it is unmistakably in another country. There is a wall, for one thing.
This part reads "We are not illegals, we are workers, we are not criminals."
Also, the supermarkets have aisles full of boxes of milk.
And, finally, Noah's grandparents live just a few blocks from an amusement park, and he feels right at home there conducting business!
Santa Fe Partners in Education is an organization that helps teachers in many ways. They reimburse tuition for teachers who continue their education, they give teacher grants for teachers that have innovative projects but no way of funding them, they pay for school busses for field trips, and they honor a number of Teachers Who Inspire every spring.
I approached Santa Fe Partners in Education in late January about the possibility of them providing a sponsorship for the LISTO Program, and they were very happy to meet. Ruthanne Greeley, the Executive Director of Santa Fe Partners in Education, and I sat down over coffee one day during my prep period and she was excited to be able to provide a $1000 tuition assistance so that the LISTO Program could continue.
Here it is, almost six months later, and I leave for Mexico tomorrow! The fourteen educators who signed up for LISTO will be soon to follow. Thank you Santa Fe Partners in Education for helping us get there!