Tuesday, January 8, 2013

school stuff

The last week of school before Christmas break is always pretty much a write-off.  A fun write-off, but still not worth much in terms of formal education.  While I occasionally gripe and complain about these wasted days (I'd much rather the kids just not go to school), this year I had to help plan them.  Kinda ironic.  Fun, too.  The first week in December we had a spirit week.  My favorite day was pajama day - who wouldn't want to go to work in your pjs?  Well, I guess quite a few people as many don't wear pjs, but we'll forget about those individuals for the time being.....  I was delighted.  It sure does make a difference in motivation, though.  All I wanted to do all day was curl up on the couch beside my desk.  
Another day was super hero day.  Yes, I am Wonder Woman.  A very well covered, conservative Wonder Woman, but I am she, nonetheless!  Flash, Superman and Catwoman (some students in my study hall) posed with me for a photo.  Intimidating lot, aren't we?
And.... the unconquerable force in the chaplain's office: Batman and Wonder Woman.  Don't mess with us, people....I've got my lasso of truth handy.
December 6th not only is St. Nicholas Day, but is, even more importantly, Quito Day.  We celebrated it on the 5th during spirit week.  While it is usually a day planned by the Spanish department, the chaplain's office and StuCo were asked to help.  It was a wacky day with different groups of students going on double decker tour buses and different times throughout the day.  That meant many different activities that we needed to plan for different groups at different times.  A little bit of madness.....
We did pull together some games that are typically played here in Ecuador - many very similar to what we would also do in North America.  The first game was the Baile de Los Tomates - Tomato Dance (sounds a little like VeggieTales...).  Couples are supposed to dance while keeping a tomato between their foreheads.  We just made it a race instead....
Then the was the lemon in the spoon race - same as the typical egg in the spoon type thing.
And an overly long and difficult obstacle course - complete with the spinning around with your head on a bat portion.  I hate that game.  One spin and I'm toast.
My favorite and the most uniquely Ecuadorian was the Polo Engrasado.  This is a fantastically fabulous game - although it seems just a teensy bit dangerous.  They have this twenty foot pole (at least that tall) that they smear completely with this thick, nasty grease.  Then they dig a hole in the ground and put the pole in the hole.  At the top of the pole is a board and on the board are a bunch of prizes.  The point is to climb the pole and grab a price.  Sounds simple but it sure isn't!
We provided mechanic's jumpers so the kids wouldn't get themselves full of grease..... well, other than their hands, faces and hair.

They started cooperating together and building human ladders so that people could grab a bunch of prizes and throw them down.  It was hilarious to watch but we were all chewing on our nails with nervousness.  Games like this would never fly back at home - the legalities would be crazy!  It was pretty fun, though, seeing the kids work together and struggle to get the stuff down.

Yes, being involved with Student Council has me doing all kinds of wacky things.
Another wacky thing is making enough hot chocolate powder mix to feed the masses.  There probably was enough powder in there to make almost 400 cups of hot chocolate.  I over-shot by just a little.....
The hot chocolate, as well as, chocolate peppermint cupcakes (they were to die for, I must say) and marshmallows on a stick, were my contribution for our Student Council fundraiser - a concession for a community sing-along Christmas concert.

It was a pretty fun event - lots of carols - and we even made some much needed cash.
On an aside, Maddy had to make a mask for a masquerade party that they were having in English class.  Thankfully, in this very busy season of the year, she found a fancy mask at a party store, so she had a good start.  They had to decorate their masks in a way that represented them.  I helped her stretch the symbolism....  The orange and pink stuff at the bottom was left over trim from her soccer teams poster back when she was maybe 10 (yes, I did keep that trim and take it with me to a foreign country - sometimes it pays to hold on to seemingly ridiculous things!).  On the sides of he nose is two small pieces from an bracelet made in Ecuador - in colors of the Ecuadorian flag, and having three pieces of this stick type material - to represent the almost three years we've been here.  Googly eyes on the sides of the eye holes represent goofiness, the crystal star in the middle represents her faith, the buttons are for her whimsical side and who knows what else she put on there...  Gotta love seemingly useless English assignments....
The last day of school, the elementary kids were supposed to dress up in something Christmas themed.  Well, I had no time and little warning to come up with something, plus that morning I had to be at school by 7:00 to set up for other activities.... so they were on their own.  Lucy, with Mia's help, decided to be an angel.  She wore a white shirt, Mia's white skirt, tied silver ribbon around her waist and made an aluminum foil halo.  I was impressed with the creativity and resourcefulness.  She reminded me somewhat of Ramona Quimby in the movie - where she dresses up and makes her own tiara to try out to be the next peanut butter princess.
Cade was Joseph in a bed sheet and pillow case.  Love itl
The whole school assembly...
After the assembly, all the students - well, grades one through twelve, went to the field for some games: A Journey to Bethlehem.  The games where fun but had a few issues....  One of them was entirely my fault, but I claim ignorance.  I volunteered to wet and freeze 12 towels for the game - the point was for the teams to thaw their towels (swaddling cloths) and then once malleable, wrap them around "baby Jesus".  Well, several people had played a game similar to this before, but not me.  So I soaked those stupid towels, stuck them in our freezer and went on with life.  Well, do you see what is happening with our precious towels?

They were so well frozen the teams couldn't thaw them.  Mostly they took to throwing the towels or tearing them apart.  We lost six good towels that day....we didn't have many to spare!  Those six towels were in absolute shreds when all was said and done, and the other ones had several holes in them as well (we had to use our bath towels at the beach when we went....).  Sigh...
After an hour of poorly executed and destructive games, the elementary classes went back to their classes for parties and middle school and high school had a variety of other events.  Each class put together a station with an activity.  Freshman did a photo booth, Sophomores had a station to put together cookies and notes of thanks to staff, Juniors had hot chocolate and story time with Santa and seniors had a cookie decorating station.
Maddy, being the freshman VP, asked me to take pictures at their photo booth.  While the area was cute and all, most of the kids just hang out and didn't get into it.  The school suffers from a severe case of apathy and lack of enthusiasm about almost everything.
At the end of the morning, all the middle and high school student gathered and sang Christmas carols.  I can't honestly say whether or not the students had a good time.  They are a very hard lot to understand. Perhaps it is cultural, but they just don't get into things a whole lot.  Kinda sad.  The good thing is that the student who are part of Student Council see that and are hoping to change it.  Hopefully they'll get the idea that school can be some place fun and some place to be proud of.

I wish I could show you pictures from Mia, Cade and Lucy's parties but unfortunately I was not able to participate in their activities.  Definitely a huge down side of having this job.  They seemed fine with me not being there, but I wasn't fine with it.  On to a new season of life, I suppose.

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