Letter from Zapallal - July 2011
We had the second round of the presidential elections and by a very close margin (3 points) Humala beat Fujimori. In the previous presidential elections, Humala had been a bit of a left-wing firebrand so there was a lot of negative criticism about the result but he has allayed many of the fears. He will be invested towards the end of July, coinciding with the Independence Day celebrations. There are many sad reminders of the hopes and dreams of the various candidates because apart from posters and banners, which can be removed, there are names painted on walls all over the place and they will probably stay there growing dimmer with time until the next elections.
As I mentioned before, Father’s Day here is much, much lower key than Mother’s Day. The only celebration in school was a lunch for all the staff when the dads received presents.
Last time, I wrote about the inauguration of the sporting year in glorious technicolor. On Saturdays and during PE lessons the games continue. The school is ablaze with colour as the various forms take on their rivals. The highlight for me is to watch the youngest pupils with their boundless energy completely oblivious of the whistle but no way put out when their ‘goal’ is disallowed. 29th June, feast of Saints Peter and Paul, is a national holiday and so no classes but the school was buzzing and throbbing (unless those two cancel one another out) as hundreds of pupils were here all morning displaying their sporting prowess. The level of volleyball is high even among the primary pupils. The beauty of the sport is that people of all ages, shapes and sizes can participate as is evident from all the games that are played in the side streets.
We have received some small green computers and it is good to see how the primary pupils have responded. There are also classes for parents who are far less confident than their offspring. The primary teachers had staff training in ‘robotic education’, using the computers to design simple machines and then build them with what looked like Lego parts. They also were intense in their concentration
I previously mentioned that we had come 4th in a national competition for a 5th year project on the culture and geography of Peru. We were visited by a camera crew for interviews with pupils, parents, staff and the teacher responsible for the project to decide on the winner for the big prize. The project is sponsored by one of the big banks here with some big prizes in money and materials for the school and various university scholarships for the winning teacher. The deciding ceremony was plush but at the end we were not in the winning three. However I believe we will get a donation of books.
As part of the English lessons with the 5th year we had the project ‘Going shopping’. The idea is to widen their vocabulary and improve their pronunciation in a familiar situation. However, typical for here, they can’t just make-believe, so the library was turned into a café, a supermarket, a boutique, a computer games shop, etc. complete with security personnel. The English was a bit suspect but the imagination and enthusiasm made up for that, as did also the experience of working as a team.
The weather has turned quite chilly, earlier than usual, and that is bad news here as the houses are not geared for the cold and damp so we can expect quite a bit of illness and absences. One more problem for the people to face, especially as all medical treatment is expensive here and is always cash up front. Fortunately we are able to offer a daily warm meal to a group of the poorer pupils thanks to funds from Delia’s sponsor project but we can help only 30 pupils.
Most of you will be looking forward to summer holidays so I hope you have good weather allowing a restful time and a re-charge of batteries.
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