Thursday, 9 April 2009

A week already

So I've now had my first proper experience of teaching English. As I mentioned before, on Tuesday and Wednesday we were teaching basic vocabulary and phrases to local artesans. The organisation of the event was very Peruvian - i.e. it started 45 minutes late, and half as many people turned up as we were expecting. The artesans were in general quite shy, but definitely very keen to learn - it is something which has a direct impact on their lives. We taught small groups of about 5, and it was fascinating how even in 45 minute blocks, you could pick out the confident ones, the quiet ones, the ones who were shy but with an aptitude for the language. Being on the 'other side' of the classroom is very interesting, though of course I haven't seen anything yet. The real challenge starts on Monday at school. I am excited, terrified, and prepared for frustration. In a recent UN survey of the education systems in 134 countries, Peru came bottom in just about every category. Quite what the implications of that are, I will soon find out.

One real perk of the teaching this week was the fact that by way of thanks, we got to see the Chinchero Inca ruins for free. Annoyingly I didn't have my camera with me, but the stone terraces against a green mountain backdrop were, as always, awe-inspiring. Particularly good was the chance to stand on a stone platform from which the Inca used to address crowds in the field below. It was very much like the podiums used by political leaders today - though press conferences rarely happen in such dramatic settings.

On Wednesday evening, there was the weekly volunteers' pub quiz in a bar in Urubamba (one of the largest towns in the Sacred Valley). This is done by a pair of volunteers, and yesterday's was a lot of fun. However, as part of the winning team, I have been accorded the privilege of organising the questions/activities for the next one. Nothing like a bit of pressure to add to my teaching obligations!

Today, I have had a relaxed, and in retrospect, very South American day. I had a slow start to the morning, and started reading La casa verde by Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru's most famous writer). Then this afternoon I took the bus to Urubamba and played football with other volunteers and some Peruvian kids. It was great fun and I didn't embarrass myself too badly, though it has to be said that playing football at 3,000m is a bit more tiring than usual. At this rate, I will be very fit by the time I come home.

P.S. I think I have finally found somewhere where I can upload photos. Might be able to do that tomorrow.

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