I have been working with the secondary school in Porvenir for over a month now, and I am learning so much about the Peruvian school system and the expectations of the students. I work with Profesora Mercedes Castilla Mayorga as she teaches her students English.The 5th grade has been learning the past perfect tense, and the 1st grade has been working on colors. The students study English for one hour and twenty minutes every week, something Prof. Castilla would change if she could, since it is difficult to learn a language when you only study it once or twice a week. Next week the students take exams, and the following week they are out for winter break.
One of the things that I have observed from being around the students, is that school is school no matter where you are. There are the “popular” kids and the athletes, as well as the socially awkward and nerds. One day while I was helping a girl in the 1st grade one of the boys in the class came up and told me the girl I was working with was “pig” (he used the English word). My heart went out to the girl who is a little larger than the other girls in her class, and all I could think was that boys were boys, and some times they can be rather mean to girls.
Today there was a teachers’ meeting and school started late. This gave me the opportunity to speak with some of the girls in my 4th grade class, which I go to on Mondays. We talked about various topics from counting to what kind of music they liked (of course these two topics were a result of my misunderstanding them when they asked about counting, I heard cantar rather than contar). I invited them to come to teen night at the library, which happens every Friday night (as of yet no teens have shown up, but I have had several eight year-olds).
I must confess that one of the highlights of my day is when the students pass me in- and outside of the classroom and say, “Hello, Rachel.” It’s nice to know that regardless of how well they learn English either from me or Prof. Castilla, relationships are being built that may one day lead to the opportunity to share the gospel with these children.