...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Where else could I learn how to say "fart" in Spanish? **

Two eProps to the Lane ESD Migrant Education Summer School, which began on Tuesday. I'm in the third and fourth grade classroom and oh my God, the kids, I wish you could see them. Out of the class of about thirty, I recognize about half from last year. The first day always starts late because the teachers have to gather the kids from the playground, so I was just cooling my jets in the classroom, poking around a little while I waited for the kids to come in. I found an attendence sheet, and seeing some of the familiar names...I don't know how to describe it; it was just very moving. These kids, they've all moved around a lot, usually from Mexico to California, then around California and up to Oregon; Y, one of the girls, told me that she's been to about ten different schools. That their families have achieved enough stability that the kids are able to participate in the Migrant Summer School for two, three years in a row is so heartening. It's just...last summer, at the end of the program, a few of the kids wrote me cards and said they hoped to see me next year. I knew I was going to be volunteering again, but I didn't want to promise the kids that I'd see them because I have no way of knowing what their family situation is, where they'll be in a year, if they'll still be in Springfield or Oregon or even in the US. And that the kids remember me, remember my name, remember the origami I thought them, a year later, makes me feel as though I'm really making some sort of difference or an impression in their lives.

In particular, I felt that way about R, a serious-faced, exceptionally bright nine-year-old boy. Last summer at the beginning of the program, R and his family had only been in the US about two months. He didn't know any English at all. Some Mexican teachers were visiting the school on an international education tour, and they quizzed the kids questions about Mexican history and culture; R was the only one who could answer them. This year, when I gave R the reading evaluation test on Tuesday, we chatted for a few minutes in English. He told me that the school year went well, that learning English was hard, but he thinks he's getting it. Later that day, the Sra. Steff, the head teacher in my classroom, asked the kids if any of them knew who Padre Hidalgo was. Not only was R the only one to have heard of Miguel Hidalgo, but he answered her in English. I'm so proud of him and all he's accomplished, and I hope the Migrant Summer School has played some part in his achievement.

So I'm having a good time. Actually, the three hours a day, four days a week for four weeks I spend with the kids has consistently been the best part of my summers for the past five years. This year I'm cutting it short--I'll only be volunteering for Friday then Monday and Tuesday of next week, then on Wednesday me voy.

** It's "pedo." Writing p2ac2 is short-hand for pedos acedos, or "rotton farts." Feel free to use this information to your advantage if ever you need to establish street cred among Mexican elementary-schoolers.