Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ethics, Language, Math....In that order, will guarantee Sumak Kawsay.

Sumak Kawsay in Kitchwa means, "Beautiful Life", and I am convinced that if the young people, when they leave Katitawa School are able to Read, Write, Speak and Understand their mother language, have the basic understanding of math and the logic of numbers, and values built on a solid foundation of Ethical beliefs, they will be a success in whatever they do in the future. For this reason, in my classes. I have made this our goal.

Two of my class will graduate in June, and the other two will graduate the next year, and I find they are unprepared for the colegio, in Spanish and math. For them, it is not important why they have fallen through the cracks, but it is important to correct the problem before July and we are making progress.

If they can read well they will want to read more. If they read more they will learn more. The internet is more than games....Much of the worlds knowledge is at their fingertips....If they can read and have the desire to learn.

Wish them luck....And me too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What Are We Here For?

Here at Katitawa School we teach grades, kindergarten through seventh. When they leave here they go on to the Colegio which is like high school and they are there for five years.

Our main goal is to make sure the students are prepared for the colegio. For the past few years the volunteer teachers have taught classes in English, computers, art, music, poetry, chess, theater, sports and helped in math, science. Local teachers always teach Kitchwa and Spanish.

Some parents bring their children to Katitawa when they are two or three years old....Sometimes I suspect, because they think we are a good baby sitting service. Since many of the adults here in Salasaka do not read or write Spanish, the children often come without the basic knowledge that is common in larger cities where the parents are better educated.

Others bring them when they are five or six because they have trouble in another school because they are stuck at number 40 in a class of 40 or 50. Here we have small classes and can give special help to a child that needs it.

We have known for a couple of years that most of the children at all levels have a real problem with reading and writing Spanish. Since Spanish was not one of the subjects the volunteers were teaching, we talked about it, but did not do much about it. This year, thanks to a couple of volunteers who gave tests to find out which students needed help....And most did. To correct this deficiency, extra classes in reading were scheduled after school, and hopefully these will continue throughout the year.

What courses are most important?....I will save this for tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ths Six Pillars Of Character

Several years ago, we started a program that was intended to improve discipline and build character. It was well received by the kids and staff as it was our own code of conduct. Kids could recite it by heart and were reminded when they did not live up to their promises. As with many good intentions it has somehow fallen into that pile of things that we used to do and then forgotten all together.

I believe that character does count, and should be the foundation of our school curriculum. While surfing the web to get some new ideas on the subject I came across the Josephson Institute's web site and found their Six Pillars of Character. We have adopted them, as our new code of conduct. They are reprinted them below:

Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends and country

Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements

Do what you are supposed to do • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your choices

Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly

Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need

Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey the laws and rules, but at times it is necessary to question athority • Respect authority • Protect the environment

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Life Always Gives Us An Opportunity To Help Someone

This is a story of a young man of 14 years and his sister. His Name Is Danny and his sister’s name is Lizbeth. I first met these two when Danny was eight and his sister was six. They were two of my first students in the small English school we had started in downtown Salasaka.

Now six years later Lizbeth is in the colegio (Jr. High school), and still comes for English lessons three times a week in our library. Last week, Lizbeth came for a lesson and when we had finished, she sheepishly brought out three tickets that she was supposed to sell by Friday. The tickets were for a concert that was being sponsored by her school. I did not want to buy the tickets as the last thing I wanted to do on Saturday night was to sit in the cold for a couple of hours listening to music that was way out of my comfort zone. She pleaded as 12 year olds can do and to sweeten the pot she said she would bring me the biggest bag of capolis that I could imagine. I bought the tickets and gave them to some volunteers who thought it was the great.
On Wednesday of this week Lizbeth stopped by the library, to tell me she was off to pick capolis. Ten minutes later she returned and told me her mother wanted me to see me. We walked the short distance to where I found her mother sitting on the ground, under a giant capoli tree with Danny laying in her arms. With a sad smile on her face, she told me that Danny was high in the capoli tree picking berries for her and me when the branch broke and he fell, (about 30 feet), and almost landed on the cow. If it had not been for the fact that the cultivated soil was soft, I am sure he would have been killed.

When I asked how long ago it had happened she told me about a half hour and was just waiting for Lizbeth to arrive. I told her we had to get him to a hospital quickly because he was shaking and she said she had no money…I left and found my neighbor who had a truck and in fifteen minutes Danny was in the emergency room at the hospital in Pelileo. I gave her $40 and told her when she needed more to let me know.

Today I saw his mother on the street and she told me he has a neck brace and had broken some bones close to his neck. The doctors told her that since he is only 14, he should heal rapidly. I asked her if she needed any help and she smiled and said no…I said how about the bills? She said he needed to set some more x-rays next week to be sure the bones are healing in place….I looked at her and told her not to worry. And she smiled. This story could have had a very different ending.

Danny is Fabiola’s nephew. All of the past volunteers who have been here, I am sure remember Fabiola.

Because of this experience, I have decided to start a small fund which can be used when a family has no money set aside for emergencies and will not get emergency help until it is sometimes too late. It is not uncommon for someone to die while the family is trying to get enough money together from friends to cover the cost of an emergency visit. If you would like to help with this fund, please feel free to push the button below.

Here is a picture of Lizbeth and Danny, taken in 2006. Lizbeth is on the left on top and Danny is on the bottom right.

UP-DATE: We now have $140 in the Fund. I have set the goal of $500 which we will use as needed.

I am thinking of various ways to make the fund self-sustainable. Since I believe that most people want, if at all possible, to take care of their own problems, I would like the fund to work like this: When money is needed, we will make it available at once, but would ask that it be repaid with cash, produce or something of like value when it was possible.

I am still working on the details.