Written By: Jasmina
The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy and eventful, which is slightly unusual for life in Pearl Lagoon, especially for our experience thus far. I became accustomed to slow days, a week without Internet, and a relaxing routine that usually included an afternoon siesta. With the conclusion of the North-South Dialogue, it seemed as if the daily pace of things was slowing down again. However, the exact opposite happened. Recently, our social calendar as well as our work schedule kicked into fifth gear, and our days became filled with various activities, events, meetings and workshops.
The week without internet was challenging because I got used to having constant access, that it came as a bit of a shock to be completely cut off from the cyber world without any idea on when our isolation would end. After a couple of days, we all embraced it and it allowed us to become more involved in the community. It was a blessing in disguise. We continue to play weekly volleyball games and stick around to watch all the other teams play. Since we stayed to the end, we got invited to sit in on a volleyball league meeting. During this meeting, a volleyball committee was formed and Shivani became one of the elected members that will proudly represent our team. We attended more basketball games at the cancha, which are getting more competitive (if that is at all possible) and more exciting the closer they get to the finals.
The social scene has been filled with birthdays and celebrations, which goes hand-in-hand with great food and great company. The week of celebrations was kicked off by one of our local friends who had a great birthday party with dinner on the dock, flashing lights, a DJ and a dance floor which was filled the entire night. Next in line was our friend Melissa from Wildlife Conservatory Society, who chose to celebrate in Awas and received the Nicaraguan birthday tradition of getting covered in eggs and flour. Luckily she was right by the water and could jump in for a quick swim to wash the birthday wishes out of her hair and clothing. It looked like a lot of fun and I think we will definitely keep this tradition going. Even Pearl Lagoon had a birthday on Friday, August 9th and although there weren’t any daytime celebrations, Warner’s Restaurant and Bar had a big dance party in the evening. Finally, yesterday we celebrated a birthday of one of our own Pueblito girls, Stephanie. There weren’t any eggs and flour on the menu but it was a fun night with a great turnout and a lot of good food and music.
Lastly, I’d like to speak about the work that we’ve been doing because it has been an exciting and eye-opening week here in Pearl Lagoon. Shivani and I have been doing classroom observations in the secondary portion of Pearl Lagoon’s Academy of Excellence (PLACE). We have met with the school director and all the math and science teachers and attended all of their classes. Our first impressions were mixed because we were quick to draw comparisons between what we imagined a class should be like and what we were observing. Not long after, we became accustomed to the different classroom dynamics and began to observe countless positive aspects of the secondary classrooms. The students were in school from 7:30 am-3:30 pm, with math and science being taught every day. The students are very social and interactive and I was pleasantly surprised to see such a high amount of class participation. They received our presence in the classroom very well, and I even got a chance to teach one of the math classes and mark the students’ tests. Attending the classes was a great review for me and I took notes of what the students were working on. However, in one of the classrooms I spotted what looked like a giant tarantula, only feet away from me. Whether it actually was a tarantula or not, I cannot say for sure, but it was equally terrifying. I could not focus in this class because all my attention was on this spider and its every move. Those 45 minutes went by very slowly and I was relieved to be out of the classroom. Nobody else seemed to mind its presence so I assumed it was a common occurrence and that it is not dangerous. No matter how common it is, it’s not something I will ever get used to.
The teachers work very hard during school hours and after school to prepare for the next day. Since the Atlantic Coast is so unique due to its multicultural and multilingual composition, creating a comprehensive curriculum is not an easy task. The curriculum that the Ministry of Education provides is in Spanish, while the classes are all taught in English. This means that the teachers have to translate the curriculum and find English resources that they can incorporate into their lesson plans. This is a tedious and a time consuming task and sometimes things can get lost in translation. I was very happy to meet with the teachers to discuss classroom and educational challenges and areas where I can assist them. I am eager to observe the classrooms in the Institute next week, which is the local public high school and work with their Math and Science teachers as well.
Workshops are in full swing and Jay and Catherine held their first Parent workshop yesterday afternoon. Although they were a little nervous about what to expect, the outcome was successful and the parents seemed to enjoy it as well. They had a good turnout and many of them were actively participating in discussions. In the mean time, Shivani and I met with Miss Carmen from the Ministry of Education where we discussed a workshop that will be held at the end of the month called TEP’CE. It is a workshop that all teachers from Pearl Lagoon and Haulover will attend and we are responsible for leading portions of it. The topics of discussion will vary depending on what the teachers request and what we think could benefit the secondary classrooms after our observations. It is exciting to know that my first workshop facilitation will be held in two short weeks but the feelings of both pressure and excitements are interchangeably surfacing in my mind.