A Quisqueya alum passed away over the holiday break. He was in a car accident driving on the beach road, around sundown on New Year's Eve. According to one of our students, his car had been acting up. He was 20.
Yesterday several of the seniors were absent, attending his funeral. The day before, one had told me that the "dress code" for the young friends was a white shirt and jeans, since that was his favorite outfit. Some who had gone to the funeral were at school in the afternoon. All 3 girls had ballerina-style buns. I asked why. Rudayna replied that it's a Haitian custom, that you wear your hair up to show respect, since "it's not a party". You also wear closed-toe shoes. I then noticed all three girls had those on instead of the normal ballet flats or Chucks our kids wear. How interesting...
That custom makes total sense. Very respectful. It's just brand new to me.
I have no profound commentary on this. Just another piece of my Haiti education.
Another piece of my teacher education, one that should NOT be brand new to me:
boys and girls are different.
This semester we have split 9th grade English into two halves. Schedule-wise, it just worked best to split them girls/boys due to PE being girls/boys also. So we did.
And let me tell you. As a human-observation-experiment-peoplewatching kind of gal, it is stinkin hilarious to teach the same class twice in a row (once to the 9th grade XX's and once to the XY's) and observe the differences. My scientific observations so far:
1. The 9th grade girls have requested to sit in a semicircle instead of the normal rows.
2. The 9th grade girls have requested to all share colorful sparkle pens.
3. The 9th grade boys have requested to go on more field trips and play more games.
4. The 9th grade boys have requested a 5-minute stretching break in the middle of the 55-minute class, with the stipulation that if anybody falls asleep after the stretching break that he will be forced to stand up for the rest of class.
5. It was very difficult to start class on the first day with the 9th grade girls because all 13 of them wanted to discuss my slight change in hair color, what Mr. Kilpatrick got me for Christmas, the fact that I'm wearing heels for the first time in Haiti, the fact that I now have a clipboard with a ribbon on it, the fact that I am sick (as evidenced by almost-gone voice and coughing), and that I "look tan".
6. One week later, not a single 9th grade boy has noticed any of the above items.
I am loving it. It is so great to have smaller classes. Less fussing, more teaching. I can see almost everybody's notes at once, and I can definitely see all their desktops. More "at-bats", as my favorite teacher book would say.
I showed off a big stack of new books I'm adding to our classroom library today to the 9th graders, and I'll show them to the 11th graders tomorrow. Several of my pals (Lauren, Aunt Steffie, Stephanie, Belinda and more!) gathered books from their friends and closets to donate to my students as I've searched for excellent, meaningful books for my students to sink their teeth into. I was so happy to bring back such great works for them. And there are even more waiting in Texas for me to bring back next summer! Thank you, thank you.
One final thing today: our school is officially taking the day off next Wednesday, January 12, the one-year anniversary of the earthquake. My word, one year. We'll have a memorial service with the secondary students on the afternoon before that.