When the director of our school called in a student and asked him if he knew his birth date, I thought he was joking. But the student took his time, directed his glance up towards the ceiling trying to think, and said he thought he knew what it was but wasn’t sure. I was surprised. Not that birthdays are anything incredibly special to me, but really, how hard is it to remember one date? I suppose that when a mother has 6-12 children she can’t remember them all, so never makes it an important issue to tell her kids when they were born. The school right now is in the middle of turning in their statistics; how many males and females of each grade and ethnicity and hometown we have. It’s a big deal to collect all of the information about all of the students and present it correctly on the right form. The teachers are basically abandoning their classes for three days preparing these papers.
It’s interesting to me how many days they just cancel class because the teachers have other things they have to do. A week ago they cancelled class for one day to go to Chajul, the municipal we are a part of, to turn in some other papers and go to a meeting (the papers that say they are credentialed and allowed to have a classroom). Half of the teachers didn’t finish that day so they canceled classes the following day too. Why they didn’t decide to hold this meeting in January before school started is beyond me. The organizational process is just, well, it doesn’t exist. Nor does logical thought. But that is a longer post for another time.
While the teachers run around frantically organizing their life, I sit in the office and do next to nothing. All the teachers arrive at 7:30 and have class until noon, they lunch for a half hour, then have classes again from 12:30 until 5:00. I live with four people that either work or attend classes at the institute (that’s what they call the school here) so I just keep the same schedule as them. I don’t have 8 hours of things to fill my day with however so I spend a lot of time twiddling my thumbs and reading. I feel like I should be doing more to help, especially since everyone around me always seems so busy, but every time I ask if there is anything I can do, they reject me and say when something comes up they’ll let me know. Right now I’m working on writing the text for the website. The only thing is, my Spanish grammar is horrific and I don’t have most of the information about the different programs here to actually write anything of substance. If someone else did the work it would probably take them a half a day to write and an hour to edit. Me, it’s going to take a week. I just have to treat it as a exercise to better my Spanish and to get to know the institute better. I am also going to try and put together another taller (workshop) on organic composting and inorganic trash management.
The institute is a perfect pilot program for starting composting in the town. There are lots of students available for manual labor to build the structures required, there’s lots of organic trash and very little inorganic trash produced, and it’s a perfect teaching tool for a school that wants to go in the agricultural/environmental direction. In my town I’m estimating that about 80-90% of the total “waste” produced could be composted. The exceptions are: plastic bags (which they give you in every store whether you buy one bag of rice which already comes in a sealed bag or a bottle of soda; obviously neither of which really needs a bag), plastic bottles, tin cans, and wrapper waste (like the plastic bags that chips or rice or salt or little candies come in). Much of this can also be reduced. For the next couple days when I get overly frustrated with the website I’ll just work on my composting charla. I get sad every time I see my family throw the plastics out with the vegetable waste in the backyard, there’s an easy solution and they could even be able to sell the products of the organic compost! And a big part of my job here is creating revenue-inducing programs to help solve the debt problem here. I think compost is a perfect mix between everything I want to do and am supposed to do.