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Carbonera School Journal 1999-2000

25 Jan.,1999: Finally we have enough money . Theroof repairs and the painting are under way. The childrenreturn-hopefully 40 this year-on 8 February and looks likewe'll have both classrooms ready to be used. We're goingto need 2 more blackboards, some more shelving, etc. Suchmarvelous problems. Geovany told us if 40 children comewe'll get a second teacher. Amazing.

04 Feb.: In spite of good planning one can't alwaysrely on contractors. Seems money was more important than qualityof work. After differing opinions on what constitutes timeand effort we started looking for new painters. Fortunatelythe school classrooms are ready for children on Monday andFelipe, our forest guide who also happens to be a great painter,will finish out the contract on the painting contract-betweentrips to Corcovado. Thanks Felipe.

18 Feb.: Thirty nine children!! have registeredfor school this year and Nestor has begun teaching the firstand third grade classes. We've got a makeshift classroom amongthe old boards and other stored materials however it doesn'tinspire much learning concentration. Barb Nelson, a Minnesotafriend and music colleague, came to present Mozart to thechildren. She sang the 'Alphabet' song and we could hear childrenon their way home from school trying to imitate Barb's lyricsoprano voice. Once again, the Hokie Pokie is the all timefavorite singing game.

04 Mar.: Finally!! Don Rogelio has started buildingthe new bodega, or storeroom/computer lab. We've decided notto try and match the I-beams brought from "los militares"back in 1993. We'll build with wood, trying to copy the designas closely as possible. He is a good man and hopes to finishby the end of the month, opening the second classroom foreducation only. School attendance is not 100% this year andsome parents are talking about teachers not being presentat the beginning of the school day. Same problem, new people.After several similar experiences I trust the junto de educaci÷nwill organize and talk with the teacher(s) about this repeatedproblem. Solutions take more than rumors and conversationsbehind backs.

09 April.: Many visiting families to Lapa Rioshave been donating wonderful Spanish books for the children.The books are so colorful and add such an expanding worldfor the children. If only I could organize 2 hours each weekto finish the dream of a story hour and a lending library.In spite of a ever-growing English speaking community no onehas stepped forward to assist in making this a weekly event.Sigh. Don Rogelio finished the bodega this morning and hasbeen paid. We are waiting for the 2 metal doors to be deliveredand installed. This expensive building project was achievedthrough the generous donations of Lapa Rios guests. Thankyou, all, for making this long term dream a reality. Hopefullybetter organization can be achieved with all this new space.

12 August 99: It appears our enthusiastic Geovanyhas gone the way of former teachers; he is never present andhis students leave by 8 AM, disappointed. Some active fathersand I had a meaningful conversation. They organized a meetingwith the local supervisor. Gustavo Segura, the manager-in-trainingfor Lapa Rios, helped write the letter to the district officesand encouraged the families to insist on their rights to education.Only one father and 1 teacher came to the meeting. When askinga neighbor later why he and all the others had not comfrontedthe teacher(s) about attendance the answer was simple, "Ididn't want to tell bad things to them." The school willcontinue to provide lessons for many of all ages. Numerousadvantages will continue to be taken, particularly from governmentservice providers, until this community begins to assert itswishes and needs.

8-13 October: A French video director and crewappeared for 5 days to do a documentary high- lighting communitybuilding of a rural school. They filmed, interviewed, talkedwith locals and left with a greater understanding of the continuingsaga of the Carbonera School. The rainy afternoon we walkedup the mountain paths to visit HaydeÚ's family willnever be forgotten. An eye opener.

11Nov.: A few primary children are in school. It'scorn/bean planting time. All hands are needed.

16 Dec.: There was a graduation partytoday for the 3 sixth graders. They passed...ALL the childrenpassed!! This rural teachers' system demonstrating "success"(supposed) is difficult for me to accept. A small possibilitymay exist SOME of the parents question this. Estefer Chavariawill go to high school in San Jose (living with sophomoreDiana and family) but I'm seriously concerned about her preparednessfor her first year; trust she has the stamina for arduouscatch up. One boy will begin working with his father and theother may go to high school near Panam½.

03 Feb.,'00: The Association painted the bodegaand roof of the classroom building and all looks ready forclasses. We still do not know who and how many teachers willbe at the school this year. Those children I encounter alongthe road appear eager for school to begin next week.

22 Feb.: Today I finally met our new teacher, ayoung man who looks eager to live with and work in our localcommunity. He's had 3 previous years of teaching in a ruralschool and as a our benefit comes from a rural family acrossthe Golfo Dulce. He better understands the building process.Again this year it has been difficult getting the familiesto organize the junta and parents as well as welcoming anotherschool year. It appears 2 of the mountain families will notsend to children to classes as the father had seen a pumaon the road to their farm and felt walking to school was impossiblefor these 7 children. Que lastima! Mixing rainforest withranching creates dilemnas for the wild animals; a calf iseasier to hunt, hence cats are more visable. We shall keepopen the possibilities with these children.

01 March: Today we had a commitment from our firstWorld Teach teacher, Amy Gordon. She will begin English classeswith both the morning and afternoon classes. ALL the parentscame to a hastily called meeting to invite and resolve whereAmy would live if she chose to teach at the Carbonera School.(The Chavarria family will offer her lodging and meals thisyear--a great opportunity for that household to learn anotherculture, too.) This past year more English speaking visitorswere in the area creating a greater need for communication.The families' bonding toward a common goal was powerful. Hopefullytheir desire of learning English can begin; not only for thechildren but even the adults.

April: Again this year the same problem (and mis-understandingon the teacher's part) is creating riffs. Children do noteat a nutritious lunch as there is no person to cook. Thelocal school must provide, by law, a lunch for all children.The parents must find a cook (most schools encourage parentsto share the duty) and pay this person for this service. Noone has been hired nor volunteered to solve this situationand many children who have walked many kilometers are leavingschool hungry. The teacher is becoming frustrated that hisjob teaching also includes the additional chores of cleaningthe school and cooking. This situation is a crisis.

15 May: Sadly only 19 children are coming to school.Our community has not shrunk; participation of parents isnot being fueled this year with leadership from those fewindividuals who normally carry a great deal of the responsibility,hence less interest in sending children to school. Perhapstheir "wait 'n see" approach will gain some resultsfrom those previously on the sideline. Our teacher is goodwithin the structure of family and junta support. He is anorganized teacher and has brought structure to his classes.His attendance is practically flawless. The children alwayslook pleased to be in school, learning.

26 June: One of the U.S. neighbors was recentlytelling me how delighted she is to witness progress with thelittle girls of her caretaker. She feels the children arelearning some English and having a better year at school thisyear. With this woman as an example more of our "oncein a while" neighbors will take more interest in childrenof their caretakers. Almost 75 percent of the children atthe school have parents working for non-nationals who havevacation homes.

While visiting with guests I met our neighbor woman whohad started cooking for the children. She helps with cleaning,too. The on-going battle of the uncut grass on the playingfield continues; although the soccer field gets cleaned manymore times per year than does the area near buildings.

12 August 99: It appears our enthusiasticGeovany has gone the way of former teachers; he is never presentand his students leave by 8 AM, disappointed. Some activefathers and I had a meaningful conversation. They organizeda meeting with the local supervisor. Gustavo Segura, the manager-in-trainingfor Lapa Rios, helped write the letter to the district officesand encouraged the families to insist on their rights to education.Only one father and 1 teacher came to the meeting. When askinga neighbor later why he and all the others had not comfrontedthe teacher(s) about attendance the answer was simple, "Ididn't want to tell bad things to them." The school willcontinue to provide lessons for many of all ages. Numerousadvantages will continue to be taken, particularly from governmentservice providers, until this community begins to assert itswishes and needs.

8-13 October: A French video director and crewappeared for 5 days to do a documentary high- lighting communitybuilding of a rural school. They filmed, interviewed, talkedwith locals and left with a greater understanding of the continuingsaga of the Carbonera School. The rainy afternoon we walkedup the mountain paths to visit HaydeÚ's family willnever be forgotten. An eye opener.

11Nov.: A few primary children are in school. It'scorn/bean planting time. All hands are needed.

16 Dec.: There was a graduation party today forthe 3 sixth graders. They passed...ALL the children passed!!This rural teachers' system demonstrating "success"(supposed) is difficult for me to accept. A small possibilitymay exist SOME of the parents question this. Estefer Chavariawill go to high school in San Jose (living with sophomoreDiana and family) but I'm seriously concerned about her preparednessfor her first year; trust she has the stamina for arduouscatch up. One boy will begin working with his father and theother may go to high school near Panam½.

03 Feb.,'00: The Association painted the bodegaand roof of the classroom building and all looks ready forclasses. We still do not know who and how many teachers willbe at the school this year. Those children I encounter alongthe road appear eager for school to begin next week.

22 Feb.: Today I finally met our new teacher, ayoung man who looks eager to live with and work in our localcommunity. He's had 3 previous years of teaching in a ruralschool and as a our benefit comes from a rural family acrossthe Golfo Dulce. He better understands the building process.Again this year it has been difficult getting the familiesto organize the junta and parents as well as welcoming anotherschool year. It appears 2 of the mountain families will notsend to children to classes as the father had seen a pumaon the road to their farm and felt walking to school was impossiblefor these 7 children. Que lastima! Mixing rainforest withranching creates dilemnas for the wild animals; a calf iseasier to hunt, hence cats are more visable. We shall keepopen the possibilities with these children.

01 March: Today we had a commitment from our firstWorld Teach teacher, Amy Gordon. She will begin English classeswith both the morning and afternoon classes. ALL the parentscame to a hastily called meeting to invite and resolve whereAmy would live if she chose to teach at the Carbonera School.(The Chavarria family will offer her lodging and meals thisyear--a great opportunity for that household to learn anotherculture, too.) This past year more English speaking visitorswere in the area creating a greater need for communication.The families' bonding toward a common goal was powerful. Hopefullytheir desire of learning English can begin; not only for thechildren but even the adults.

April: Again this year the same problem (and mis-understandingon the teacher's part) is creating riffs. Children do noteat a nutritious lunch as there is no person to cook. Thelocal school must provide, by law, a lunch for all children.The parents must find a cook (most schools encourage parentsto share the duty) and pay this person for this service. Noone has been hired nor volunteered to solve this situationand many children who have walked many kilometers are leavingschool hungry. The teacher is becoming frustrated that hisjob teaching also includes the additional chores of cleaningthe school and cooking. This situation is a crisis.

15 May: Sadly only 19 children are coming to school.Our community has not shrunk; participation of parents isnot being fueled this year with leadership from those fewindividuals who normally carry a great deal of the responsibility,hence less interest in sending children to school. Perhapstheir "wait 'n see" approach will gain some resultsfrom those previously on the sideline.

Our teacher is good within the structure of family andjunta support. He is an organized teacher and has broughtstructure to his classes. His attendance is practically flawless.The children always look pleased to be in school, learning.

26 June 00: One of the U.S. neighbors was recentlytelling me how delighted she is to witness progress with thelittle girls of her caretaker. She feels the children arelearning some English and having a better year at school thisyear. With this woman as an example more of our "oncein a while" neighbors will take more interest in childrenof their caretakers. Almost 75 percent of the children atthe school have parents working for non-nationals who havevacation homes.

While visiting with guests Imet our neighbor woman who had started cooking for the children.She helps with cleaning, too. The on-going battle of theuncut grass on the playing field continues; although thesoccer field gets cleaned many more times per year thandoes the area near buildings.