Summer Happenings by Brian Goetz

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Here in the Cangrejal watershed, I continue to feel blessed to be a part of the creation of new relationships, of the search for new ways of approaching old problems, and to be able to learn from the people here while passing along to them some of the few things I have been taught. English classes up in the community of La Muralla continue to be the highlight of my time here, with each class resulting in a new world of ideas being opened up to both teacher and students. The students are on break for the week as I type this, and I am using the time away from teaching and carrying out my school assessments to really lay down the direction for the rest of the year. Considering that I only have two days a week with these students and that they are so young (1st thru 5th grade), my goals have more to do with them exploring new ways of learning and thinking than having a command of the English language. That being said, I really am amazed at how much these kids are retaining. Next week I will be joined by a few visiting volunteers to do some art projects on Tuesday and Thursday that will hopefully help us to learn vocabulary dealing with shapes and colors.
I have visited about half of the schools in the cuenca cangrejal and am starting to see some clear patterns. The most glaring issue to me is the inability of the municipalidad to encourage teachers to stay longer than a year or two in these schools where a teacher’s understanding of each student’s stage of development, family life, and strengths is so integral to their learning. There is also an incredible lack of resources and variety in learning/teaching methods. When I have visited all of the schools and sorted through all of the data and observations, I plan on writing a comprehensive report to share with anyone interested so that, in the future, Un Mundo and others can together help to expand the opportunities for children growing up in this area.
Next week I will be flying to Chicago to spend a week in the midwest. Aside from spending some time with my friends and family, I will be picking up books from a couple of book drives organized a few months back that will hopefully be a good addition to the community library that is starting to develop in El Pital. I will also be publicizing a benefit concert for Un Mundo’s work in the cuenca that is going to be held on Thursday, June 25th in Madison, WI. My friends, the Madison-based funk and reggae band Chafo will be performing along with another good friend, Malian musician Tani Diakite and his Malian Blues Band. The following Saturday I will be attending a wedding to celebrate the union of two of my good friends in the northwoods of Wisconsin. Thinking of returning to the United States gives me mixed feelings of course, as I am really excited to see friends and family and for these wonderful events that will be happening, but I am not looking forward to being surrounded by the mindless consumption that can be so prevalent there, the effects of which the majority seldom ponders.
This Thursday I will be holding a meeting in El Pital to try and generate some excitement around the library and the formation of a group of people who will ideally become the leaders and guardians of this community space that has yet to be a reality. I am confident that, with the right people involved, this space can eventually become more than a room with books in it, and evolve into a place where community members of all ages can access ideas, information and resources that will ultimately help expand and open up community consciousness.

Here in the Cangrejal watershed, I continue to feel blessed to be a part of the creation of new relationships, of the search for new ways of approaching old problems, and to be able to learn from the people here while passing along to them some of the few things I have been taught. English classes up in the community of La Muralla continue to be the highlight of my time here, with each class resulting in a new world of ideas being opened up to both teacher and students. The students are on break for the week as I type this, and I am using the time away from teaching and carrying out my school assessments to really lay down the direction for the rest of the year. Considering that I only have two days a week with these students and that they are so young (1st thru 5th grade), my goals have more to do with them exploring new ways of learning and thinking than having a command of the English language. That being said, I really am amazed at how much these kids are retaining. Next week I will be joined by a few visiting volunteers to do some art projects on Tuesday and Thursday that will hopefully help us to learn vocabulary dealing with shapes and colors.
I have visited about half of the schools in the cuenca cangrejal and am starting to see some clear patterns. The most glaring issue to me is the inability of the municipalidad to encourage teachers to stay longer than a year or two in these schools where a teacher’s understanding of each student’s stage of development, family life, and strengths is so integral to their learning. There is also an incredible lack of resources and variety in learning/teaching methods. When I have visited all of the schools and sorted through all of the data and observations, I plan on writing a comprehensive report to share with anyone interested so that, in the future, Un Mundo and others can together help to expand the opportunities for children growing up in this area.
Next week I will be flying to Chicago to spend a week in the midwest. Aside from spending some time with my friends and family, I will be picking up books from a couple of book drives organized a few months back that will hopefully be a good addition to the community library that is starting to develop in El Pital. I will also be publicizing a benefit concert for Un Mundo’s work in the cuenca that is going to be held on Thursday, June 25th in Madison, WI. My friends, the Madison-based funk and reggae band Chafo will be performing along with another good friend, Malian musician Tani Diakite and his Malian Blues Band. The following Saturday I will be attending a wedding to celebrate the union of two of my good friends in the northwoods of Wisconsin. Thinking of returning to the United States gives me mixed feelings of course, as I am really excited to see friends and family and for these wonderful events that will be happening, but I am not looking forward to being surrounded by the mindless consumption that can be so prevalent there, the effects of which the majority seldom ponders.
This Thursday I will be holding a meeting in El Pital to try and generate some excitement around the library and the formation of a group of people who will ideally become the leaders and guardians of this community space that has yet to be a reality. I am confident that, with the right people involved, this space can eventually become more than a room with books in it, and evolve into a place where community members of all ages can access ideas, information and resources that will ultimately help expand and open up community consciousness.

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