Sr. Pamela Marie Buganski
“God is always talking to me when I am in Guatemala.”
The teachers in the primary school (grades 1-6) asked if I would teach them English. I was thrilled that they asked! It is so much better when someone asks SewHope for something rather than SewHope telling others what they might need or want. To me, it is a matter of empowerment.
Jesus empowered those who wished to be healed with such words as: "What do you want me to do for you?" At first it seems like a crazy question. But it isn't.
The teachers broke themselves into two groups of six. They scheduled the class during the time of the children's recess and between the computer classes. So half the teachers are in English class and the others are watching the kids. Each has class once a week.
Today was the first day. It was so much fun! I prepared the lesson with a powerpoint. Not only was this easier for me and much easier to repeat for the second group, but hopefully the teachers will get an idea for another way to use technology as it becomes available.
I am hoping that the teachers and I will be able to teach English to their students next year following this same basic plan. This class will put the teachers one step ahead of their students and give them some confidence.
We started with the basic names and sounds of letters in English. We did away with taking notes and just used participation and repetition and games to practice the letters and sounds. I am learning how to teach English as I attempt to teach it. Hopefully along the way the experience will improve my Spanish as well.
Below are the first through third grade teachers. There are three sections of first grade, two of second grade and one of third grade. Starting from the far left: Isaias (2), Robin (1), Dora (3), Elder (1), Yovany (1), and Allan (2)
Classes resumed yesterday after about two weeks of preparing to celebrate and actually celebrating Guatemala's Independence Day. Today was my first day to return as no computer classes are scheduled for Wednesdays.
It felt good to be on the grounds again with the teachers and children.
The teachers developed a new computer schedule which allows for classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The schedule allows a 45 minute break in the computer lab as the children have recess and snacks. Today, Kevin, the director, asked if I would teach English to the teachers during that 45 minute break on Mondays and Thursdays. Since some teachers need to be with the children, it would be six teachers one day and six teachers the other. I was glad to accept the invitation. I believe that this class will develop further in the next school year.
Another great thing was that today was the very first day that I could leave the 28 computers, cords and projector in the computer lab itself and not cart them back and forth. Ismael was able to get a metal door in place which provides sufficient security for the computers and other equipment and materials for the students.
This door is great for a number of reasons: 1. No more hugging and lugging and praying that no one dropped a computer. 2. No more cancellation of classes because of rain which prevented the hugging and lugging. 3. Greater access to the computers throughout the school day for the primeria and telesecondary students instead of just for select times of days for the primeria. In short, this should allow us to expand our programs and computer use five-fold. I am very excited!!
It is now possible for students in a classroom in Purushila to read the same book together in the Spanish language on individual computers without the internet.
Other than an occasional textbook, the students have no common books that are used in the classrooms. SewHope has provided a few books of the same title, but they are not used in groups....yet.
I am not a computer genius....and I do not have a team here to bounce ideas off of or to work together on a project. But with a lot of time, perseverance and continued ideas from God, it is now possible.
This is your prayers at work! Thank you!!!!
Reminder: to read yesterday's blog and contribute your ideas all you computer geniouses out there!!
WWW. World Wide Web. According to Wikipedia, the system of interconnected networks known as the internet was invented in 1982. By 1995 the internet was commercialized.
In 1995, I was 39. It is difficult to imagine that I actually survived for 39 years without the internet.
To help the poor, anywhere, we need to find ways to identify with them. This exercise might assist us in experiencing the real gap between those who have and those who do not have what we would, I dare say, consider essential to daily life in the modern WORLD.
This is a test. Teachers love to give tests!
1. Today I want you to imagine how you would get through the day without access to internet. Seriously. What would you be able to do and what would you not be able to do? At home? At work? At church? At meetings? Make a list.
2. How would your day today be different if you didn't rely on the internet? In terms of time? Resources? Access? Anything else you can think of? Write it out.
3. Story Problem: SewHope has made it a priority to assist the children through educational assistance in the village of Purushila. SewHope has 90 Dell laptop computers available for use, about 50 of them have been dedicated for use in Purushila. Purushila has no internet at this time. Electricity is available. It seems that the only way to actually get internet is to build a tower in the midst of the hills there. The local companies are not willing to do this because there is no monetary return to supplying internet to little dirt villages. They have other priorities. How would SewHope move forward to assist with education cheaply, effectively and efficiently without internet access in a computer environment?
Please send me your responses to the above three questions. Let's use the internet to share and to try to solve this real world problem. Like, seriously. You can reply in a comment to this blog, or write me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am working with one answer. Anne came up with the idea. It is the best idea so far. It is cheap and effective, but it requires an extreme amount of my time and is therefore not efficient. I've continued to streamline the process, but I'm thinking that there must be a better way. I'm hoping that one of you out there have that way and will share it.
Independence Day, September 15, is a BIG DEAL in Guatemala! The schools and villages have been preparing for two weeks. Bands play, Independence Day Queens are chosen, parades are everywhere, costumes are lovely, food is abundant!
Ismael, Orfe and I went to Purushila on Thursday evening. The community was gathered there to elect the Independence Day Queen of the primary school (1-6). The event got started at about 8 pm. Many of the school children danced for the crowd. Five young ladies were in the running for the Queen. Three outside judges evaluated them for at least four dances. Two of the young ladies were 6th graders, two were 5th graders and the smallest one was a 4th grader. The competition was tough. In the end, the 4th grader won! However, for some reason, I lost the pictures of the event!
I don't have pictures to show this, but this really happened today. What is God telling me?
I went to Flores to pray in the Blessed Sacrament chapel of the cathedral. The city of Flores is on an island. All of the streets run in concentric circles on the side of a tall hill. The cathedral sits at the apex.
There were a few people coming in and out of the cathedral and chapel as I prayed there. At about 10 minutes to noon, a man came up to me and told me that the church would be closing at noon. I thanked him. We had a short conversation. As I rose to leave, he beckoned me to follow him out a side door and away from the main door. He was the caretaker.
He led me past all sorts of stuff for the church and up a very narrow stairway. I could see that we were heading toward the bell tower. We continued to climb to the roof. He took me to each side to see the view....a lovely sight of the surrounding lake and villages from the highest point of ground! What a lovely creation of God!
At noon he began ringing the large bell for the first part of the Angelus, a prayer commonly prayed at noon and at 6 pm. Then he moved to the smaller set of bells and continued ringing with the prayer.
In the chapel, I had just asked for a sign. All the way up the stairs I walked with reverence knowing that somehow, this was the sign.
I thought about Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. Matthew recounts part of the story in these words: "Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'I will give you all these,' he said, 'if you fall at my feet and worship me.' Then Jesus replied, 'Be off, Satan! For scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.'" Then the devil left him, and angels appeared and looked after him.
Every two weeks, there is an assembly in the Primeria (grades 1-6). Usually a grade is responsible and do a presentation on some appropriate topic. With the Guatemalan Independence Day coming up on September 15, the sixth grade students did a presentation honoring the flag and other symbols of Guatemala.
I am beginning to notice that all of the assemblies, whether of adults or of the students follow a specific format. Generally one or two persons serve as MCs and direct the program. The children are very used to doing the assemblies and show great poise.
Alex is a young man who is finishing a teaching degree. He and about 100 of his fellow classmates completed research projects and then presented them formally to fellow classmates, parents, friends and members of the Department of Education.
I met Alex last week when I visited the Escuela Oficial Rural Mixta, Barrio El Triunfo in Santa Ana, Peten. He and his classmates worked with this school for their project and presented their research today. Orfe and I were invited to the event. I cannot tell you how professional, how poised, and how prepared these young men and women were!
Alex and his group approached Orfe and Ismael sometime in July. SewHope was more than eager to work with these students. In collaboration with them, the students of the school in Triunfo received fluoride treatments. In addition, the school has received KAH food, has made at least 10 tippy taps and purchased 10 water filters. The teachers-to-be were great instructors on good health and nutrition for the students and families. We look forward to continued collaboration with this school which is about a five minute walk from my apartment.
Dr. Coral Matus and her family and friends are sponsoring the building of a birthing center in the village of El Chal. This building has been in process for over a year. As with projects of such scope in a poor village with lots of politics, it has had its ups and downs. Today we are in an UP phase! Rejoice and give thanks to God!
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012