So I’m pretty sure that our two American children are the ONLY two American children at their current school here.
Their school is a private school about a 10 minute drive of terror from our casa. Daughter #1 is in 4th grade and daughter #2: 1st. In the States we were in public school – and so far there have been a lot of differences between the two (private vs. public), most of which have nothing to do with the culture or country.
The school has a large and beautiful campus, most of which is outdoors and filled with lush green foliage, lots of staircases and plenty of inviting places to sit (not that anyone sits around for long – it’s way too frigging hot and all too quickly you run the risk of needing a blood transfusion thanks to all the mosquitoes…) Another interesting physical factoid about the school is that it’s either built on, or next to, old Huastec Indian tombs. Now I have not confirmed this fact with anyone, and frankly I’m not going to. Some things are better just left alone. With all the exaggeration going on here, coupled with my own imagination, there runs a very strongly likelihood of me having to home school – which is a really bad idea. I’m not sure about you, but that movie Poltergeist really freaked me out as a kid. When daughter #1 was sharing this information with me, my facial expression must have worried her because she was quick to assure me that the three skeletons they found long ago have been removed to a nearby museum – which reminds me that I need to find out which museum so we know to never go there.
Another strange factoid that I’m not going to touch: goats. On school grounds is an enclosure with goats. Not sure what they are for or why they are there. I haven’t gotten too close because (1) they are goats; (2) they are near the alleged tomb and I’ve got enough to deal with right now without worrying about Huastec curses; and (3) they are goats.
There is very little diversity at this school as it’s pretty much 95% Mexican. There is a large Korean company somewhere around here, so you will see some Korean children. One especially nice Korean little girl in daughter #1’s class from day one has been helpful to our daughter, translating for her and showing her around. More amazing than her kindness is that this 11 year old is trilingual: she speaks Korean, English and Spanish – which is really cool (and a bit intimidating, if you ask me…how many 11 year old trilingual children have you met? When I met her I didn’t know whether to shake her hand or hit her up for some Spanish lessons…) Speaking of languages, as we’ve been constantly assured, our children are picking up on the language quicker than us adults (which is great and all – but I wish they’d hurry up because it would be really helpful to have two little translators around when I need them). Most of the classes are taught in English, but all the meetings, assemblies, parent sessions and written school communications are in Spanish – as is all the socialization – which has been challenging to all four of us English speakers. Challenging, and hey, a little fun, too. We’ve already caught daughter #2 trying to get out of doing homework: “it’s in Spanish! I don’t know what is says! Ergo I can’t do it so let me go back to playing Minecraft!“. Nice my try little timadora.
Interestingly enough, our 4th grader teacher is from Wisconsin (she’s super nice and has recently started reading my blog – and did I mention she’s super nice?); and our 1st grader teacher is from Canada (she’s been a great teacher so far, eh). Here are a couple of differences I’ve noticed so far from our public schools back home to our current private school in Tampico (a little more of the norm than skeletons and goats) :
- Let Them Eat Cake! You can bring in food to school – including birthday cakes on your child’s special day. Not sure what folks do here with kids with allergies – I haven’t seen or heard any type of concerns regarding allergies. One birthday cake even came equipped with sparklers (I wasn’t there but I’ve seen the photos) – so WOW, talk about no concern – nothing like a potential fire hazard to get in the way of a birthday celebration. Quick story: during daughter #2’s classroom cake event just last month, the teacher mentioned a Mexican tradition: “Mordida, Mordida, Mordida!”. She didn’t tell me what this tradition consisted of, but after mentioning it in the classroom, she took a defensive squat behind my daughter and held both arms out to hold other children away. I will admit that at the time I was a bit alarmed at just what this tradition consisted of if it required an adult’s protection (as was daughter #2 who, by the look on her face, was a little scared also). Come to find out that this tradition simply means that the person blowing out the candles gets to have their face smashed into the cake (daughter #2 decided not to participate in this tradition, to the disappointment of the rest of the class).
- Attention to Historical Costume Detail: nothing funny here, but during the recent Mexican Independence Day celebrations, many chicos wore traditional costumes and outfits as they reenacted the historical events of their country – which also included toy guns and rifles. Kids walking around school with fake guns and rifles is definitely not something you see back home – make of that as you will.
- The Use of Technology: everything about their education is online: their report cards, test scores, home work assignments, quizzes. Through the school’s website we have access to multiple resource websites for math, reading, language arts – it’s opened access for us to all kinds of interesting and interactive sites that both our children really enjoy – and it’s all free. Although sometimes I wish my kids would unplug themselves from electronic gadgets and just stop talking about Minecraft already!, in their generation it’s probably good experience for them to become familiar navigating the world wide web in general – and use their keyboard and mouse for something besides blowing up creepers. Plus the sheer electronic organization of the school, the resources, grades and transcripts is impressive – and just as impressive is that their website is ALWAYS accessible (my fellow-moms back home at Long Beach are going to love that!)
So, you’ve been hearing plenty about me from previous blogs, and now a little about our girls as it relates to their school – anyone wondering how hubby’s doing? Funny that his job in the U.S. prevented him from growing any facial hair. He doesn’t have that restriction here – and in Skyping friends and sharing photos of hubby, that’s the big topic what everyone comments on: the facial hair! Funny story about his adjusting to his new job (which, by the way, is going well), I have to share an email he recently received, and was taken back a bit by, as I didn’t think this was the type of offer he’d get at his old job in the states: he received an email from the Secretary of Health for Tamaulipas, offering men a free “non-scalpel vasectomy”. (non-scalpel?) This advertisement (which included a photo of a happy couple running hand-in-hand down the beach) goes on to indicate: “requires no hospitalization, uses local anesthesia, you’ll be back to work and physical activities within 48 hours, the procedures causes no discomfort, and causes no risks to the wife,” etc. (I’m not listing everything off of this special offer in my blog – it gets a tad personal and my parents read this.) Suffice it to say, in my hubby’s own way of adjusting to our new environment and his new employment, I don’t think he knew where exactly to file away this free medical services offer in and among his own issues. I think it just made him hesitate to open his emails for awhile.
Alrighty – that’s enough about those three – I’d go back to talking about me, but night will be upon us in a few minutes here and I still need to get my furnace going – those creepers aren’t going to blow themselves up you know.