I was invited by the literature teacher to attend, as an observer, a Heart of Darkness cocktail party. The students were reviewers whose role was to analyze or interpret the novel from their own critical viewpoint - post-colonial, psychoanalytical, deconstructionist, reader response or feminist. Having already given their presentations as if they were guest lecturers the day before, they were meeting for a cocktail party - mingling, discussing their opinions informally, backing them up with facts. Over juice and munchies, we talked and argued.
No classes all day, just a lot of energy, games and wild enthusiasm! Clash of Colors is an annual event, sort of a field day, yet more exciting than any I have ever seen. The school is divided into four teams, each a different color and representing all ages and grades, and each team invents their own theme complete with cheers and songs, costumes, makeup, props, to celebrate their spirit. Cheering for the other teams in good sportsmanship is an important element. A first grader perched on the shoulders of a 10th grader. A big four-way tug of war, the classic event. The last event of the day is music and dancing in an organized group exercise. Everyone wins.
A world history class works in groups in the computer lab to research holocaust denial groups on the Internet. They are preparing presentations on white supremacy, death camps and mass psychology. The roles of the participants of each group are very defined - a research leader, researchers, graphic designers for the presentation. The discussions are heartfelt and thought-provoking as a new generation of youth discover in detail the beliefs of hatred that fueled one of the most visible tragedies in modern days.
A soft spoken high school girl discovers herself as a photographer. She borrows a camera between periods and during lunch several days a week. She has asked her family for a camera for her birthday but has months to wait. Her close up shots are strikingly beautiful images, mostly flowers and plants, but pieces of other things - stairs, doors, shapes, most unidentifiable but made somehow eloquent. The topic she has chosen for her web design project is a showcase of her own photographs.
Another side of the immigration issue you don't see in the states: my very competent, well educated and personable young network administrator here at the school had planned a trip to New York this summer to visit a friend. After submitting many papers, letters of support, proof of employment - an excellent job he wants very much to keep, he had a brief, impersonal interview at the US Embassy and was refused a visa to visit for 2 weeks. Supposedly, he was considered at risk for staying in the states illegally.
Flyers are spread around campus like invitations to an off-beat party. After school one afternoon, tables are set up cafe style in the back of the library, a spread of coffee, tea and cookies in one corner. This is the Poetry cafe, a gathering of interested poets and readers, students and adults, some with books in tow, flipping pages to a meaningful verse, talking away a couple of hours enjoying words.
And beyond the world of my own work here, there are so many things I will miss. Simple lifestyles of the indigenous villages. Beautiful hand woven clothing wrapped around small, delicate women. Polite, formal greetings from strangers. Flowers tumbling down walls, covering trees, in every color imaginable. And there are so many things I won't miss. Invisible bed bugs and endless tiny ants in my kitchen. Black clouds of pollution in the streets. Murders in the hundreds, women and young people, soaring crime because law enforcement and courts have lost their effectiveness.
The time is flying,
like pages ripped off a calendar. Another trip or two planned, and one
I haven't yet posted, and I will be back in Colorado at the end of June.
And on to the next adventure - I've been accepted to a language school
in Prague for January. I'll be taking an intensive TEFL course (Teaching
English as a Foreign Language) and if all goes well, I will teach at their
language school for a year.