Today, June 6th, it's teachers' day. I'm not sure we have that in Europe, at least, I'd never heard of it. But here in Bolivia, they have a day for everything: on July 23d, it's friends' day, on August 16th, it's dogs' day...
So, it seems to be the appropriate day to talk about some of my students. I have to say most of them are really nice. But, I also have
_ a student who believes in energy and karma so bad he told me not to move next to the bus station because it's full of moving and unstable energy (because people are arriving and leaving all the time) same for the prison: extremely heavy surrounding and bad bad bad energy (the main prison is located in a really nice zone, central and not dangerous);
_ one who believes in creationism!!!;
_ the kids - I don't teach kids, I don't think I'm qualified to do that but I've had several 13-year-old. I have no idea what education is like nowadays in other countries but I must say that here, the various young students I've had wouldn't even make it thru primary school. First, even after one year studying English, their knowledge of the language is limited to ''what's your name?'', ''my name is...''. They don't even understand ''where are you from?'' or ''how old are you?''. They have no notions of geography and history, I'm not sure they can count - I've tried to make them solve simple calculations to practice numbers in English and I realized that most of the time, the problem was not the language but the fact that they had difficulty finding the answers (example: 13 + 7 - 4 = ?). I swear I'm not exaggerating! But, the worse (maybe not the worse) is that they cannot read a clock. I'm lying, they can but by the time they've read it, you've already found someone else to tell you the time. Apparently, with cell phones and other electronic devices, they don't even bother to learn how to read the time on traditional clocks or watches. So basically, if I wanted them to be able to do this, I would have to spend an hour teaching them first in Spanish, then, do it again in English (at least an hour because they're extremely slow. I've only had posh kids and I believe they never have to use their brain). You can investigate and see if kids around you are the same;
_ and finally, the worst case of all, this student who I thought was ok until I found out... This guy wanted to take the TOEFL to get a grant. His English was quite ok but the problems were elsewhere. Many questions in this test requires you to have some analytical, synthesizing skills and the like, which he lacked. Anyway, this guy had told us that he was quite short on money but that he needed to take some lessons to pass the test so, silly me, I gave him a discount to realize some time later that he only worked 4 hours a day (doing I don't know what) and eats 500 grams of meat per day (he still lives at his parents'). How poor can one be to eat 500 grams of meat in just one day??? Then came this 4-day weekend where, instead of studying at least a bit, he spent his time changing the rims of his car, installing a new stereo system and watching Jersey Shores. Argh!!
Anyway, to end the day on a better note, here are some pictures of the ''gran poder'', one of the most important celebrations here in La Paz. People dance in a big parade divided into ''comparsas'' (dancing groups) from 8 am to 2 am the next day. It's estimated that this year, the event generated expenses amounting to 53 million dollars from November (when the first mass is held) to June. Those 53 million are spent in drinks, jewelry, costumes...
Although the purpose of this celebration basically was to honor Jesús del Gran Poder, the 60 or so comparsas gather only 1000 bolivianos (about 150 dollars) to give the church.