Tuesday, 14 April 2009

And finally...

I have taught my first classes at my school, and they weren't a disaster! Which is in itself a relief. The school is about a 10 minute bus ride from where I live. It is small, both physically and in number of pupils (about 300). Today I taught personal pronouns to 11-12 year olds, and although I had no idea about the topic in advance, I think I managed to keep everyone relatively entertained. The kids were certainly fascinated to hear about where I came from, what it was like, etc. The teacher I am working with seems nice as well, and it's good to have her in the class to help a bit with discipline and as another pair of eyes. It looks as if my control over the subject matter taught will be limited, but I will try my best to make it relevant and interesting. To which end, I need to go and print out some worksheets for tomorrow...

But before I do that, something on the society that I promised yesterday and didn't end up writing. In this school, the major problem (so the English teacher says) is that most of the parents in the area don't see education as particularly valuable. Apparently, very few sh0w any interest in their children's progress at school. Economic conditions for farmers (i.e. most people in the area) are worsening, so they think that it is better for their children to help with the family work. Here there is no legal requirement for children to attend school. As a result, only 2 of last year's top year students went on to higher education. The rest go on to work.

There are some kids who come from Patabamba, a town in the mountains. They come on foot, and it is a 2-3 hour walk. School starts at 8, so they have to get up so early that by the time they get to school it's pretty difficult for them to give it any real attention. On a more national level, there are rumours that the government wants to privatise the entire education system, so that it is fee-paying.

I don't yet feel able to comment on what is good or bad about any of this. The situation is so different here from what I am used to that I can't judge anything.

From a non-educational perspective, there was one other thing I wanted to say. It was that watching Peruvian TV, you realise what a divided country this is (50% indigenous, 50% Hispanic). The TV programmes are clearly all made in Lima, and I have so far seen only one person on them who resembles the Peruvians I see every day here. There is a huge imbalance.


  1. Hallo Paul! Granny and Grandpa are captivated by your blog: what an amazing experience. So many new and unfamiliar sights, sounds, tastes and experiences all happening at once. It must be quite overwhelming - especially now you have to get on and teach. It makes us stick-at-homes realise how big and varied the world is. Enjoy it ...and keep sharing it: we love it ..and you!!!

  2. Easter here in Rochester was colourful but in a typically restrained English and Anglican way!!! On Palm Sunday, we ventured with two donkeys (+ two spares grazing on the grass outside our garden wall in Kings Orchard) and the parish church in procession from the French Hospital (La Providence - sounds more exotic) to the cathedral. The choir were stunning ...huge: everybody turned out - boys, girls, choral scholars, lay clerks and voluntary choir.

    On Maundy Thursday we had the Chrism Mass which involved the blessing of the holy oils for the coming year and in the evening the liturgy which ended dramatically in darkness and follwed by a watch at the altar of repose in which the only lights came from the myriad if candles on the altar.

    Good Friday began with Choral Mattins and a drmatic reading of the Passion; then followed the Three Hours' Devotion preached by Grandpa (!!!) and based on St Mark and R S Thomas. The last ninety minutes included the veneration of the Cross, stunning music and the Mass of the pre-sanctified. Easter DAy began VERY early: we rose at 3.30am and gathered outside the castle walls for the vigil. A vast (too large?!) new fire was lit by the Great West Doors of the cathedral, the paschal candle was lit and grandpa processed it in, and sang the Exsultet; 19 people were baptised and confirmed by the Bishop of Tonbridge and the eucharist celebrated. A chocolate croissant and bucks fizz breakfast was served to all (except Granny and grandpa who has shopped it!!!)in the crypt. Then on to the next eucharist this time with the Bishop of Rochester with a huge congregation and an Easter Egg hunt for choristers and young people in the cloister garth afterwards. We finished the day with Festal Evensong, a procession and euphoric exhaustion.

    For us Brits this was spiritual exercise indeed. There were moments of extraordinary power and spiritual beauty: music, poetry, drama, incense and a unique sense of presence and wonder and moment.

    However, Cusco and Pisac it was not!!!!
    We thought of you much.