Wednesday, October 18, 2006

El Cárcel

I´ve started teaching English at a prison for kids. Well, youths, the kids there are aged 12 to 18, and most of them are there for robbery or drug use. It was pretty intimidating at first. You walk in the door and there is a soldier guarding the front door in full camo uniform. You give him your ID and walk in to see a bare dirt courtyard with rough-looking teenagers staring at you.

Then one of the kids comes up and offers to take you on a tour of the place. He shows you the bakery, the kiln for ceramics, the cupboards they are building in another workshop, the metal working room, the classrooms, and the little hearts that the kids have made out of wire with initials in them. Finally he introduces you very politly to the directors, one of which he calls Mom. Then you notice that the guard, with his tall leather boots and camo uniform is the goalie for a soccer game.

I love working there. Most of the kids really want to learn English, and if at times they are too loud and boistrous, and basically too much like teenage boys, you can't be irritated for long because the next words out of their mouth are, ¨Teacher, como se dice ojos en ingles?¨ And when I say eyes, they respond with, ¨You eyes beatiful.¨

After two hours of English, it´s time for snacks and either soccer or volleyball. The kids push and shove each other to be the first to give me or the other teacher, (My friend Liz from Michigan) pieces of their orange or to offer a banana. Then my friend and I hang around for another hour or so to talk with the kids or play sports with them. It´s really fun, and I can tell that my spanish is getting better daily by speaking with them...but that´s the selfish part of the day because it´s just fun for me.

One student has already decided that I am his Godmother. I can´t decide whether that´s better or worse than Liz. She´s his matter how much she denies it.

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