The schoolyard during recess or lunch on a Friday, or Color Day, when students can wear whatever they want after paying a small fee (fundraising), is a wonderful place. Instead of the standard khaki shirts and forest green pants/skirts, the yard is filled with splashes of every color and modern street clothing style imaginable. Small people-in-progress chase each other, play football, dodge footballs, walk arm in arm, eat, and chat with the volunteers. The faces are smiling and laughing and crying and open, open and waiting to be filled with their futures. The scene is probably interchangeable with any playground anywhere. So much joy and hope, but this week the scene became tinged with a bit of gray.
I’m one of the most open minded people I know. Passing judgment on anyone other than myself simply isn’t my style. (Visit my familiarity with the fence.) While the sexism of the community bothers me quite a bit, it’s cultural and how the people are raised. I’m here to teach English, not thrust my point of view upon my neighbors, though my belief in the equality of all persons will inevitably come across. So I’m troubled, as a self-proclaimed non-judgmentalist, that when I look at these boys running in the schoolyard, I connect them with the men whistling or making kissing sounds when I pass by or to the shopkeeper who pointedly ignored me before overcharging me for an avocado. Is it inevitable that these lovely young boys in the schoolyard, including my inquisitive geeky boys, will one day turn into sexist assholes? (Look! I just passed judgment.) My judgment gives me saddies, a slight despair, because those men on the corners could be intelligent, capable human beings, but the second they purse their lips or slide their eyes my way, I put them in a box and shelve that box in the dump. I understand but don’t like my all-or-nothing thinking, this dismissal of an entire person based upon this one characteristic, although it is rather revealing of his view of the other gender. It also gives me saddies that I purposely avoid looking at any male over the age of 13, due to this very characteristic. But I’d rather not appear to be inviting those much too young boys who leered at me when I went to make copies the other day; instead, I pointedly watched the Discovery Channel episode playing on the television. I don’t know how the male Honduran teachers would have reacted, but Friday, when my 7th grade boys whistled from the classroom window at a group of girls in the yard, I sternly told them to move away from the window and join the class. Maybe the male teachers would have laughed, or maybe they would have done the same as me. All I know is what I will not accept.
My gray visions also include the girls. Marriage happens early here, babies happen early, and on Color Day, some of these girls are dressed a wee bit provocatively. I remind myself that many of the parents of the students want different futures for their daughters. CBS is a private school. While even public school charges a fee, these parents have chosen to pay a higher fee in hopes that their daughters will learn enough English to get into a good bilingual high school and that their bilingualism will lead to better job opportunities or college. Motherhood is wonderful…when it is a choice. I despair the lack of choice.
I tell myself that nothing for these children, for any children, is inevitable. Given that the kids at CBS are exposed to teachers from other cultures and with other points of view, their views of women might be more egalitarian.
These thoughts probably aren’t worth spending much energy on, but I do, because I’m thinking of creating lesson plans that either subtly or not-so-subtly address my concerns, those noted above and a few others, like homosexuality, as other teachers have done. Maybe I’ll even do one about vegetarianism. What bothers me is that my concerns are indicative of my privileged US American point of view. Despite the rampant sexism and anti-open sexuality of US society, I still am allowed and can find an environment to feel and think the way I do, yet it is not my place nor my way to disregard or disrespect the worldview of others. So I am conflicted that I struggle to practice my non-judgment here, though as a female, how could I not struggle?
Those are theresa’s Profound Thoughts of the Week.
When I began exploring new careers, I wanted a job that actually made people happy, for once. I’ve somehow chosen the opposite. Or it’s just me. Let’s just say this week was harder than the previous at school, with multiple headaches, and it was all I could do not to bawl when my last class on Friday was dismissed. I put my head down on the desk and listened to music very loudly instead. All but two of the 8th graders failed their science test and got a stern talking to. (They’ll also get a re-try, which I’ll offer for most of my tests.) I suspect two of my 9th graders cheated. And the 7th graders, well, I’m trying. There were some positives, like the day the 7th grade boys worked hard on a project together, with almost no supervision, and one of my most troublesome girls actually listened to something I said. And there was the discovery of the above graffiti in the bathroom.
I feel caught between worlds at the moment. I don’t belong here and I don’t belong there. I don’t belong anywhere. But as long as I’m here, I might as well eat a bunch of delicious lychee/litchi fruit.
Still, I remain,