Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A short blurb

I live for the moments of clarity that cripple my senses.  These moments are new experiences but they are all so familiar, as I have dreamed about them often.  It is a feeling of tranquil spirituality and complete focus--a realization that there is no other place I'd rather be than in this moment, at this time, and at this place.  They have a way of sneaking up on you much like deja vu only less unsettling.  My catalyst for clarity tends to be running.

I went for a run today, the first in a while.  I decided to take a different path to experience different scenery--I'm glad I did.  Outside my little city you get into the campo, or country, into what is a perfect representation of a Banana Republic like Honduras.  There are both recently tilled and recently harvested fields, I guess depending on what's being planted.  The fields dip and roll a bit more than in the Mid West but the sounds and smells are the same.  It was kind of reminiscent of my marathon training runs in the rural farm lands of Ohio.

The beginning of my run always feels awkward since I still hold tension from the day's stress.  It is only when I shake some tension and take slower breaths that I can relax my stride and settle into the rhythm of my feet.  Everything was typical Honduras as I made my way on the dirt path.  I passed a cowboy in full gear with no teeth riding a donkey and a Colt 45 strapped to his belt.  I saw two kids my age riding bicycles while carrying a rifle and a couple lizards for dinner.  I saw a group of women doing laundry and gossiping at the pila.

Soaking it all in you can't help but think that you are taking the right path--both in life and on the run.  I don't have clarity about love or any sort of academic pursuit, but ever so often I am blessed with a faint glimpse of myself and where I stand in the big picture.  I ask myself, "How could it be any other way?"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Day in the Life of an ESL Teacher

The weekdays all start the same, with the maddening beep of my watch alarm at 6 am.  In the United States I would normally press the snooze button a couple times, but I haven’t figured out how to do that on my watch and I don’t trust the electricity enough here to get an alarm clock.  I get up with a groan and strip down to just a towel and make my way to the bathroom.  There are two options in Central America concerning the shower situation—either you can take a cold one or you can risk the electric shock of the bare-wire heated shower head.  In my case, I don’t even have the option to risk electric shock.  My showers are just cold.  The electric shower head is a regular plastic contraption with wires rigged to it to provide heat to the water.  I used one of these contraptions in Guatemala and every time I would touch the metal faucet handle I would get shocked.  Sometimes when I would first turn the power on, there would be a white hot spark shooting from the nozzle.  I am sure you can imagine how awful it is to get a couple thousand volts running through your body in the morning. 
When walking back from the shower barefoot with wet feet, I create mud footprints all the way to my room.  The only street that is paved in the city is the main strip.  The other streets are composed of fine dust particles that are constantly being picked up by the winds and deposited in layers all over the house.  Even if we attempt to sweep it up everyday, our efforts are useless.  So the ritual is to wipe the mud off my feet and get dressed.     

The bus comes at 6:30 am and you can hear it from a mile away.  The exhaust on the bus is loud because it is basically an American school bus that didn’t pass inspection.  There are 40 or so screaming kids on the bus all with their window down and heads out.  If you aren’t completely awake before getting on the bus, you definitely are after. 

First period starts at 7:00 with the ringing of the first bell.  Today, for the first two periods, I had 4th grade English.  Surprisingly, it went really well and the kids were all extremely attentive.  We were working on the present continuous tense—such as “I am writing a story”.  Adding –ING at the end of the verb is indicative of the present continuous tense.  In Spanish the present continuous tense is –ANDO or IENDO at the end of the verb—such as “Estoy escribiendo un cuento.”  I basically wrote a bunch of verbs on the board to start and had them add –ING to make it present continuous.  Then, I handed out a worksheet I made with a bunch of cartoons doing basic actions.  They had to write in complete sentences things like, “He is drinking water.”  After that, the students had to color the pictures.  I always like to incorporate some sort of artistic aspect to my lessons because I think this enhances their ability to retain information.  They may think they are just coloring the pictures but they are also continuing to look at the words written on the page and hopefully they will be able to recognize them better next time. 

Third period I continued with the 4th grade in art.  I pulled a present continuous worksheet off the internet that is about, “what they are wearing”.   So, the kids had to look at pictures and say, “She is wearing a blue shirt, green socks, and yellow shoes.  Then, they had to read descriptions and draw boys and girls wearing different color clothes.  These three periods went as well as they have in a long time.

4th period is lunch.  There is a little store set up that sells food to the kid such as tacos, enchiladas, baleadas, nachos, and empanadas.  The food is pretty cheap and really well done.  I usually eat some good authentic food at that store.  Lunch is a good time to sit with the kids out of the classroom and joke around. 

After lunch there are two periods until recess.  Today I had 6th grade art and then 4th grade music.  For 6th grade art I had the kids draw and color 3 different animals in their natural habitat—One animal from the sea, one from land, and one from the air.  I got a lot of really good art.  A lot of the kids took my suggestion to draw a shark in the sea, a parrot in the air, and a giraffe on land.  In 4th grade music there is a CD that comes with the English book with some cheesy music that the kids love to sing and make dances to.  Here is the song:

Look at Tom and Tim
They’re swimming in the pool.
Tim’s swimming like a fish,
And Tom’s acting like a fool.

What fun to be
Traveling, traveling
Across the sea

Look at Miss Slim
She has short black hair.
She’s wearing a swimsuit
And eating a pear.


The CD is great because they can pretty much entertain themselves making up dances.  The only time I have to step in is when there is a dispute about what dance move they should do next.

The next two periods of 6th grade English were a lot like 4th grade English.  I can do similar things with the 6th grade as I do with 4th grade but I just expect more out of them.  The sentences I give them are a bit more advanced with more adjective and adverbs.  We learned the present continuous tense just as the 4th grade did with sentences like, “The big, intelligent bear is walking in the forest.”  After we did a worksheet on the present continuous I had the students write a story that included 5 present tense verbs, 5 present continuous verbs, 5 future tense verbs, and 5 past tense verbs.  I put them into groups of three that I picked so it was the perfect dynamic. 

The last period I had 4th grade environmental education.  I try to lecture and ask questions to the students.  I always speak in Spanish to the students but write in English for them to copy down in their notebooks.  Today’s topic was oil and why the use of oil isn’t sustainable.  I described three problems with oil to the students—It is expensive, dirty, and nonrenewable.  The students typically can grasp problems like these really well.  I asked them what we are going to do when oil runs out and a couple students said, “everyone will ride bicycles!”  In science, I have found that the students think in a very linear fashion.  They are confronted with a problem and they say the most obvious thing that would seem to fix the problem.  I think sometimes this type of thinking is exactly what we need.  I was thinking about the possibility of hydrogen cars or solar powered cars and they suggested just riding a bike.  Pretty smart if you ask me. 

Last period ends at 12:35 and the kids rush out of the classrooms to get on the bus.  This is the hottest time of the day and sometimes my nerves are about shot.  After school we either take naps or go to the river and swim depending on how our day goes.  Today was definitely a nap day.  After we wake up or get back from the river we will typically prepare for class, eat dinner, read or mess around on the internet, and then go to sleep to do it all over again the next day. 

This past weekend we were watching a soccer game at the stadium and we were all looking for our students and couldn’t find any.  We all agreed that no matter how mad they make us, when they aren’t around we always miss them.

If anyone would like to contact me further about teaching English abroad please email me at  I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have to the best of my ability.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Two Month Reflection

Each time I hike, it is as though I’m looking for something, although I don’t know what for when I step out the door.

This morning I awoke early to the usual sounds of dogs, car exhaust, and an assortment of farm animals roaming the streets.  I put my hiking boots on and loaded my bag with things I might need.  I took two flashlights, a pair of socks, a bottle of water, some crackers, two pockets knives, and a compass with a whistle attached.  Yesterday, March 25, marked two months in Honduras.  This morning, I was in the mood for a long walk and some time to reflect in order to take inventory on the time I’ve spent here. 

The path seemed steeper than ever in the morning heat and we were only just beginning our hike.  In passing, I smelled a tree that must have been the same kind of tree I used to pass on my way to class each morning at the University of Arizona.  I would go out of my way each morning to pass this certain set of trees for just a couple seconds of nasal bliss.   
I thought about that version of me a lot on the walk today and how different I am now than I was then.  My agenda has changed significantly and I’d like to think I have grown up some.  With maturity I think you lose a part of your dreams as you begin to realize where and who you are in a practical sense.  I wondered what I would have thought then if I could see myself now.  If I could go back and do it over would I still find myself here in Honduras?  Reflecting on my time in Arizona was bittersweet as it was filled with the best of memories in what seemed like a short period of time.  Four years seemed more like two, whereas two months here seems like two months, no more and no less.

When I was battling the dirt path searching for whatever it was I was searching for, work popped into my head.  Just as the path I took was uphill and strained my muscles, the work I begun two months earlier is an uphill battle of monumental proportions.  I began to ask the same question to my earlier self—when you started this project two months back did you think this would be the kind of progress you’d see?  I held onto an idea before I came that I knew to be false.  It was the idea that the kids would want to learn English just as much as I wanted to teach them.  This is not the case, but only because kids are only kids.  I am generally proud of their progress so far and I think their comprehension is a direct reflection of the work I put in—and this is a good thing. 

Of course, it was only a matter of time before I plunged my feet into the river accidentally, rendering them completely soggy.  At the beginning of every hike I tell myself I’d like to keep myself dry and I try to take the appropriate cautions to do so.  I know well that this is a futile effort.  Sometimes you can’t protect yourself and you just have to get your feet wet.

The sixth grade students are all capable students with differing levels of apathy toward learning English.  I suppose this is to be expected.  The fourth grade is a smaller class with a mix of personalities, including a handicapped girl in a wheelchair.  She has what seems to be cerebral palsy, although I am not quite sure what exactly the diagnosis is.  Whatever the case, she is highly functional.  She has the ability to learn and listen in class, but her motor skills suffer a bit.  She has slight function in her legs and a visiting therapist from the University of New Hampshire said that it is very possible that with the appropriate therapy, she would be able to walk and improve her motor skills significantly.  There is another student who is always messing with the others and disrupting class.  He has one of the shortest attention spans I have ever seen and obviously lacks motor skills.  Just the same as the visibly handicapped girl, this student also has a serious learning disability.  The visiting therapist showed me some exercises to work both sides of the brain and help with attention spans as well as diagnose which students have trouble with their motor skills.  Just as I thought, this student has trouble doing simple functions involving both sides of his brain, like there lacks a strong connection between the two.  The other day, he got hit in the head with a soccer ball on accident and retaliated by throwing a large brick as hard as he could trying to hit the other student in the head.  When he missed, he picked up a large piece of concrete and was going to try and hit the kid with it had I not stopped him.  This is probably the 4th serious incident he has had in my classroom and I took him to the principal’s office demanding some sort of punishment.

The principal thinks we gringos are too hard on the students and that we need to lighten up a bit.  Though, isn’t our better work ethic in the classroom exactly why we came to Honduras?  She sent him away with nothing more than a few reprimanding words even though policy states that a student with three strikes is expelled from the school.  I decided to call a meeting with the principal in order to figure out a game plan on the students I have had trouble with.  She explained to me what I already knew—both students have learning disabilities that limit their aptitude in the classroom.  She was talking about them like they were incapable of living a normal life and that they basically were able to use their condition as a crutch to do whatever they wanted.  With more time, I know these students are capable of really great things, but at what cost to me and the other students.  You start to think you don’t hold enough love in your heart to make a change, and then you realize that all the love in the world won’t change most of the problems you perceive.  Sometimes you need to plunge right in and get your feet wet.  Maybe it isn’t the prospect of finding the progress you want, but looking for it and working toward it that counts the most.  So often I want to ignore problems I see in others and pretend they don’t exist only because I am protecting myself from the fact that the problem is me. 

What I look for during hikes is something grandiose, something memorable that I can take with me.  The river curves and bends like a snake and you just can’t stop wondering what is around the next bend.  More often than not, we found, it was just another bend waiting for us.  We reached a point in the river that I thought might be what I was looking for.  A tree fell in the river and the running water hollowed out the middle of the tree to make a natural pipe that drained into a cool pool of fresh water.  Turns out it was nothing more than a good picture. 

We had heard about a set of caves that had been elusive to our efforts the previous times we tried to walk the river.  We decided we hadn’t walked enough before and I guess we were right.  The rocks looked more like swish cheese as they started getting larger and more corroded by the water. The river turned into more of a waterfall with significant drop offs that emitted a large splash washing away most of our words.  We were so tired but we knew we were close so we pressed on.  Eventually we found what we thought we were looking for—a large opening in the earth that would lead to a cave filled with all the adventure we could handle.  Turns out, the cave was only 50 feet long leading to a room filled with what seemed like a million bats shitting on the floor—definitely not what we had in mind. 

It seems the only real thing I found was the gratification of a four hour walk and the ability to reflect on my last two months here.  I should never underestimate a river’s ability to renew my spirit.  As always, it is the quest that gives us hope and it is the quest that keeps us alive.  If I found everything I was looking for my time here would be pretty boring.  The journey is the destination.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011



Established in 1931, the Lempira is the currency issued by the Central Bank of Honduras.  I am not sure whether the currency is regulated or not, but since I have been here the exchange rate has remained 18.895 Lempiras to 1 Dollar.  Lempira refers to an indigenous war hero who mounted a campaign against occupying Spain, of course ultimately losing the war.  He was part of the Lencan tribe who are descendents of the Mayan empire.  There are differing accounts as to the story of Lempira the Lencan war hero.  One account has Lempira staging a coup against occupying Spain commanding a force over 30,000 soldiers from at least 200 separate native nations.  The indigenous warriors were pushed back to a stronghold where they held the Spaniards for a couple months.  One account has him being coerced out of their stronghold to negotiate the terms of a treaty.  When the Spaniards got Lempira out in the open they took out a pistol and assassinated him unarmed.  The other story stems from a letter written to the Spanish government by one of the generals occupying the territory.  The letter is a request for a pension from the Spanish government for his duties in New Spain.  The soldier explains how the conquistadors were a force of only a few soldiers that got pushed back fighting the Lenca troups.  Bruised and beaten, the small group of Spanish soldiers continued to fight and this one individual, who was asking for the pension, fought through a group of Lencan warriors to get to Lempira and decapitate him.  He took the head of Lenca and paraded it around the city.  In both cases, after Lempira was dead, the indigenous warriors were said to have stopped the fighting.  There are people who advocate for indigenous groups in Central America that point out that, in most of the countries, indigenous figures are always put on the smaller denominations.  The fact that the entire army is said to have quit at the sight of their fallen leader says a great deal about the ability of this heroic figure to lead his people in war.  Regardless of race and politics, Lempira is fit to have his name remembered.

Marco Aurelio Soto is on the two Lempira note.  He was president of Honduras from 1876-1883.  He is known as a liberating figure working to reform Honduras into a republic.  He is best known for helping found the national library.  The budget was 1000 pesos at the time and now boasts a collection of over 40,000 volumes full of the history and culture of the Honduran people.  It never gets easy seeing the 2 dollar note here since it is so rare in the United States.

The five Lempira note is graced by one of the most recognizable historical figures in Honduras.  The early to mid 19th century was turbulent in Central America as Spanish colonialism was at its end and different groups and different states were fighting for power.  Francisco Morazán was best known for fighting for one republic of Central American nations.  He implemented liberal reforms into the republic like the freedom of speech, religion, and press.  He also worked to limit the power of the church, which created a lot of enemies for him.  Eventually, the republic was broken up into 5 separate nations and he was thrown into exile.  Upon returning to fight once again for the rights of his people, he was betrayed by someone he thought was a friend and turned over to the enemy to be executed.  He was martyred as a figure that fought for one liberal republic in Central America.  Most countries in Central America have dedicated street names, universities, and departments after this dynamic leader only to continue in the footsteps of those that killed him.  The corruption and lack of freedoms rampant in Central America are exactly what this visionary thinker was against.  He is known primarily as being a Honduran having spent most of his political career working in Tegucigalpa.  The capital department of Honduras is named after him and his face graces the 5 Lempira note.

If his name wasn’t plastered on the Ten Lempira note, I would think that José Trinidad Cabañas was Father Time.  He also came to political power at the same time as Francisco Morazan and helped in the quest to unite the Republic of Central America.  Unfortunately non of this panned out, but Cabañas as well as Morazan are still considered great leaders and visionary thinkers.  He is known as “the gentleman without blemish and without fear.”  He served two separate terms as President of Honduras.  During his presidency he is most notable for his liberal reforms giving freedoms to his people as well as his work in agriculture and establishing a railroad infrastructure. 

Dionisio de Herrera also gained fame in the political sector of the turbulent 19th century.  He was a prominent lawyer and politician in Honduras and served as the “Thomas Jefferson” of the Republic of Honduras.  He wrote the Declaration of Independence and the constitution of Honduras.  He is also known for his liberalism toward the rights of the citizen.  He is found on one of the most popular notes of Honduran currency, the 20 Lempira note.

Juan Manuel Gálvez Durón is found on the 50 dollar bill.  He was President of Honduras in 1949-1954.  He is most notable for lowering the external debt by paying off the last of the British bonds.  A significant portion of the national budget during his presidency was spent on road construction, which was much needed infrastructure for the booming fruit business at the time.  He came to power after 16 years of an oppressive dictatorship and restored freedoms to the press.  He founded the national bank of Honduras which gave him the monetary recognition to be portrayed on the 50 Lempira note. 

José Cecilio del Valle is known as “the wise”.  The Central Bank "wisely" put him on the 100.  He was an integral part of the transformation from Spanish rule to Central American Sovereignty.  He was one of the only successful leaders of his time that can be called a pacifist as he looked to words to solve conflicts instead of the sword.  He was an expert in public administration and government philosophy helping the republic get out from under the Spanish rule.

Ramon Rosas was a famous Honduran poet also known for his liberal positivism and for his contribution to the philosophy of the Republic. “He believed that ideas should govern society, which in practice led him to overestimate the leading role of intellectual minorities. He believed in the natural progress of mankind and saw the reason and soul, science, the best way to end the prejudices and superstitions, to promote commercial and industrial progress and even to moralize people.”   


Monday, March 21, 2011

Copan minus the Ruins

Oh man, where to start.  Probably best at the beginning...

The light of an orange full moon led our way out of the city.  Just before the sun peaked over the horizon, there was just enough light that the Ceiba tree, an icon of Honduras, was in silhouette.  In this half-light it looked more like a sunrise on the African Savannah with vast planes scattered with majestic trees boasting broad, mushroom shaped branch structures.  We had our first unscheduled stop at a police checkpoint where we were all asked to get out of the car and present identification.  Ricardo and Abuelito complied, but when the gringos were trying desperately to dig up our passports, the cops said forget it since they could tell we were clearly not from Olancho.  More about the police force later...

A couple hours later, when we had gained significant altitude, the weather cooled off and I stuck my head out of the window, tongue out, like a dog just enjoying the ride.  With the temperature change, so changed the biology of the region.  The scenery was almost Appalachian, what with all the medium sized peaks and forests made primarily of pine.  In fact, most of the country it seems is covered in pine; it's no wonder it is the national tree of Honduras.  The cool and dry climate at altitude helps maintain an auburn hint of color in some of the trees as if they are forever stuck in limbo between late summer and early fall.  The hours stacked up quickly having finished the bulk of a novel and after a couple bathroom and food breaks.  After almost 12 hours of driving, we reached our final destination in Copan tired, but well tempered.

Ricardo's sole purpose for the journey was to attend a country wide Lions Club meeting.  Lions Club was started in 1917 by Melvin Jones in Chicago.  Melvin had an idea, "What if these men who are successful for their drive, intelligence, and ambition were to put their talents to work improving their communities?  You can't get very far until you start doing something for someone else."  We were invited to the ceremony, dinner, and dance.  Rob and I borrowed a couple 1950's suites from Abuelito and accepted the invitation.  The meeting was in a very nice hotel ballroom and was quite formal.  It was interesting hearing the fraternal processions in Spanish knowing that it was an America from Chicago that wrote them.

I must have been in the mood to observe that night.  Sometimes as an American you are forced to realize that the world does not in fact revolve around your country.  At the Lions Club party, two national anthems were played due to the dual country convention of Panama and Honduras.  For some reason I expected or hoped to hear my anthem as well--maybe for comfort and a piece of home.  Of course it never came.  I was inspired, though, by the pride and gusto with which the Hondurans in the room sang their national anthem.  It was inspiring to see a group so dedicated to community service, so intensely proud of being the best of the best in their community.  I observed carefully the procession of activities, with special emphasis on the national anthems and prayer.  I feel that you can tell a lot about a country based on pride and prayer.  The prayer was long and I wasn't in the mood to close my eyes.  I began spanning the room.  I found it easy to perceive those that are devoutly faithful and those going through the motions.  The faithful were almost glowing in their expressions while a good portion were just going through the motions.  I admired most of their spirituality.

Before we entered, we noticed that the army was guarding the building. There were most likely some very important people at the Lions Club meeting.  A pretty juicy target for enemies.  I felt much safer knowing that the army was watching the building rather than the police.  The police all carry Russian made guns and are on the payroll of the drug cartels.  When one of their children turns 15, it is common for the drug lords to pay for the policeman's daughter's party.  More bribes are given than are traffic tickets.  The people have much more confidence in the army, but for obvious reasons they wouldn't want the army to gain too much power.  I would venture to guess that most developmental scholars would say that it is the fault of corruption in the high echelons of the government that they cannot provide adequate police forces and other public services.  This is definitely a problem, but first  I think the country needs to develop its economy through its various untapped resources.  The Hondurans have a strong work force potential but a lack of business innovation because of a lack of an adequate educational standard and infrastructure.  In order for the public sector and constituents to have confidence in the police force, there must first be confidence in the private sector.  Maybe  a strong private sector will create enough tax revenue to supply the public sector with adequate resources to staff a police force with individuals committed to ending corruption.  Educating Hondurans in sustainable business practices or partnering with Hondurans on the small community levels may create jobs to stimulate the economy, and thus providing more tax revenue for public works.  As a foreigner, I think there are ways that we can invest in local, relatively small projects that keep money in the community as well as provide healthy dividends for investors.  Like an association of foreign land owners that specialize in the development of small farms in rural Honduras.  A portion of the money will always be reinvested into expanding the business and creating more jobs.  

Although the ride was beautiful, it felt like we were in the car for the majority of the time.  Twelve hours there and twelve hours back for a weekend trip doesn't allow much daytime to explore.  I decided since I had already seen the ruins at Copan, I would do something different.  As soon as we arrived in Copan, the rest of the group was getting prepared to go to the ruins and I set off on my own to find something to do.  I stopped at a little bar that houses a tourist kiosk to ask about a day trip.  They recommended Macaw Mountain, which is a bird sanctuary nearby.  I took a small taxi to the park with a couple other Americans that I had met who were on their way as well.  The birds sanctuary houses about 20 different types of indigenous birds that they rescue or breed to keep the population of the endangered species alive.  I saw parrots, toucans, owls, and hawks among a variety of others.  I got the opportunity to hold the parrots and macaws for a while in an interaction area which made me feel like a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder.  An American bird watcher was inspired by the many indigenous species in Honduras and asked the government for help to buy land to build a sanctuary.  The government was happy to help with the land and the organization subsists on the coffee grown throughout the land as well as on donations.  It is a beautiful sanctuary, but the problem is that away from the sanctuary the birds are still being hunted and even killed for sport.  In order for the population to really grow, the birds must be reintroduced to their environment so that they may breed outside of captivity.  Conservation, as well as economic development, begins with the sentiment of the people.

The rest of the time spent in Copan was pretty relaxed.  On my last journey to Copan I wrote about how the town was quaint and beautiful with little more to do that sip the local coffee and visit the ruins.  I took advantage of the time to rest in the cooler weather as well as eat an American style meal and take a hot shower.  I have only taken one hot shower since January 25th.  It is amazing what a cheeseburger and a hot shower can do for your soul.  On the drive back I was content sitting in the car clean and with a full belly.  I bought a cheap book at a book exchange in Copan written by Deepak Chopra, the spiritual guru.  I read as much as I could on the way back and munched on my favorite Ciruela fruit.  I eat so much ciruela that my kids now call me Mister Ciruela!

Quote of the Day:   "Life is love and love is life.  What keeps the body together but love?  What is desire but love of the self?...And what is knowledge but love of truth?  The means and forms may be wrong, but the motive behind is always love--love of the me and the mine.  The me and the mine may be small, or may explode and embrace the Universe, but love remains."        

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Father's Day

Today we celebrated Father's day at the school with an assembly showcasing the talents of each grade.  I had my students do a poem in English.  It read:

Who can fix my broken bike?
Whose strong hands can hold me tight?
When I need someone to make things right,
It's my dear old Dad.

Who does things that help me grow?
Who shows me so I will know?
When I need someone to catch or throw,
It's my dear old Dad.

Dads come in all shapes and sizes,
Big or small, short or tall,
Someday I hope that I will be,
Half as great as he.

Who helps me know right from wrong?
Who works hard all day long?
When I need someone to sing along,
It's my dear old Dad.

Dads come in all shapes and sizes,
Big or small, short or tall,
Someday I hope that I will be,
Half as great as he.

At night before I go to sleep,
I thank the stars for giving me,
The greatest man in history,
It's my dear old Dad.
It's my dear old Dad.

Sure, it was a little cheesy, but Latin America is the cheesiest place on Earth.  Plus, I figured that the only people capable of understanding the poem were the two other foreign volunteers.  It turned out, even they couldn't understand what the kids were saying.  Overall, I was proud of my students for getting up there and trying to speak English in front of over 100 of their parents and peers.  I think being up there and having worked hard to put something together brought us closer together as a group.  They also had to make their fathers gifts.  I had the students decorate a pint glass with glitter and their picture.  Then I made bags with coffee and candy inside and placed that in the glass.  They turned out really well, especially since some of the kids did some pretty interesting poses for their picture.  After the festivities were over, half the glasses were still sitting on the shelf.  I asked the kids why they didn't give the presents to their Father.  Of course, how could I be so stupid, their fathers didn't come.  Some aren't around anymore and some are working in the United States.  Either way, a great deal of the problems in any third world country, or the problems of youth in general, are due to the lack of any family support system.

There were a couple things that upset me about the assembly today.  As always, most of the parents were late.  The invitation said 2:30 and we started after 3.  "Honduran time" or not, this is unacceptable.  Finally, I went up to the principal of the school and told her that we needed to start.
Most of the acts were appropriate and well planned except for a couple of the dances.  A couple of the performances were just middle school and high school girls dressed in skimpy outfits and hooker make-up singing Rihanna.  I just couldn't believe their teacher or the principal wouldn't have the foresight to screen the material before presenting it to the parents.  It was really embarrassing.
After the assembly was over, it was time to clean up. We had to put the desks back into the secondary school classrooms.  When we went in there it was completely trashed with uneaten food thrown all over the floor.  There was a trashcan right outside of the door.  The entire lawn was filled with trash as well as all the classrooms.  Wherever and whenever the kids finished their food they threw it right where they were standing.  It was really disgusting.  We helped the janitor clean it all up because she is the only person in the school that does her job without complaining and with a smile on her face.  We are planning on talking to each class, especially the older students who are supposed to be leaders in the school.  They should be a good example for the younger kids, but the reality was that their rooms were more trashed than the preschoolers.

These sound like complaints, but really they are just observations.  I am happy with how the day went and the way my kids handled themselves.  On a lighter note, we are taking a trip this weekend with Abuelito and Don Ricardo.  We are visiting the ruins at Copan.  I went to see these ruins when I studied abroad in Guatemala, but I don't mind taking another trip.  It will be over ten hours by car, not factoring in any unexpected road hazards that are sure to happen.  We are leaving at 4 in the morning tomorrow.  Should make for a good story.  Stay tuned...