Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Clever titles are the hardest part of blogging. Or, An entry about school.

Some times I feel the only things that are consistent in Haiti are these: when you walk down the street it smells like urine, and things are always changing. This blog is not about the former, but the latter.

Things have been changing for us at QCS.  Last week the US Military drastically reduced the number of troops operating from our school. Only the positive effects of this have been felt so far. One of the negatives, that they will stop paying for our diesel, is on my mind, but that is another blog for another time.

One benefit of their withdrawal has been the return of our soccer field, which our kids have loved as Katie has documented. And, as of yesterday, we got some classrooms back. Oh happy day.

On Saturday I walked through the high school building. It had been scrubbed clean! Even the classrooms that we so hastily stripped for our armed guests to use were somewhat put back together. But the building had an eerie feel to it, like there were ghosts of 2 months ago lingering. The lockers had been returned, but the bulletin board still proclaimed "Happy New Year!" and the schedule for Spirit Week that was supposed to start on January 18.

I walked into room 36, which we affectionately call our classroom, although I have learned not to hold any material thing too dearly in the last two months since I have seen how quickly they can be crushed, or taken away, or re-purposed. The desks were back in rows. A teachers' desk had been placed into a corner. The 9th grade English class' "About Me" collages were still on the wall.  Katie's handwriting was still on the board. I think that was the most emotional and spooky feature. We have not set foot in that room for over two months and some parts of it were just as we left it- specifically, Katie's very distinct hand writing proclaiming the work that needed to be done for the week of January 11th.

So things change, again. We no longer hold high school classes in our living room. Every class has their own space. No more "one room school house" with all of elementary meeting in our school chapel. All of the teachers are happy to have the space and "normalcy" that comes with having their own room. However, the kids are not as enthusiastic. A few said that they liked how we had been doing things. I wonder why? I thought they would enjoy being back in a familiar building, seeing that things were again changing- but this time they would see things moving from chaos to order. From brokenness to restoration. At the very least, they would see they have lockers again.

Maybe that is expecting too much insight from teenagers. Maybe the school makes them think about the friends who have left Haiti, maybe it reminds them of how their lives were disrupted. Maybe they don't think about any of these things at all.
Room 36, where literature is taught with gusto!
Priority 1: Get new sign. Isn't it a tad past New Year?
Clearly, I teach History and like it a little too much. I thought this would be a great quote for my first day back in the building.
With all due respect to the Herseys, this is the best English teacher in Haiti.

B

6 comments:

  1. Ahhh, a little bit of normalcy again, huh? That's wonderful.

    Obviously it's a move forward, but perhaps the kids felt a sense of comfort in numbers with the way you were doing things before and that's why they're reluctant to go back to their separate classrooms. They say there's safety in numbers, so maybe they just felt safer in a large "group". And who wouldn't like having their class in someone's living room (giving them the sense of home)?

    So I guess like with many things, there's the good and the bad. I'm just thankful these children have a school to return to and are blessed with teachers like you and Ben who are committed to helping them learn and move forward.

    Just a quick question: How much diesel fuel does the school go through in a month and how much does that cost? (I know the usage is probably going down with the troops' withdrawal, so I'm curious about the amount used in a "normal" month.)

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  2. Hmm.... fellow Texan, that is a good question. Being as new to the school as we are, I honestly have no idea how much diesel the school goes through. Before the quake, we ran out giant generator from 7 am to 4 pm only each day. After 4 pm, you could not go in the computer lab, use the copy machine, or anything else. After the quake, we only ran the generator 2 hours a day before the army came. I'm curious as well- I'll ask around!
    Katie

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  3. Only because that other English teacher is currently in the US!

    Sorry, gotta stick up for my friends. :^)

    I think the "I shall return" quote is appropriate. "Happy New Year" is even kind of appropriate - it's not a new calendar year, but you are turning a page in the school year...

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  4. Wow, you went from 9 hours to only 2 hours of generator use? That had to have been tough.

    Please tell me those bugs are gone - I've been having nightmares ever since. ;-)

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  5. Katie, you ARE the best English teacher in Haiti. You are doing a terrific job -- your boss has told me that on more than one occasion.

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  6. Well, it's easy to rank highly when you're the ONLY English teacher:) Sweet husband is too kind. I'll be happy to have my English-loving colleagues back next fall!

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