Skip to main content

Teaching to Win

Teaching is the most humane activity I know. To deny knowledge is to be selfish and greedy. Every day, I see ignorance among a people that do not yearn to know the truth. They experience it daily: corruption mixed with savage capitalism. All they want is to know is how to play so, they cannot just survive, but also enjoy the peace of mind of getting paid and paying bills on time. These simple pleasures I have always enjoyed only because I was educated and groomed to play a game my family already knew how to win.

Today, I visited a community center, Granitos de Paz, in the one of the most dangerous neighborhoods of Cartagena called Oyala. It is not in the outskirts of town, but almost in the geographical center of the city. There are a mix of wood shacks and cement homes, asphalt and dirt streets, and open storm sewers filled with stagnant water and garbage. Homes have high cement barriers at the doors because in the rainy season, the whole area will flood. The children at the community center smiled curiously at me as they waited to play soccer, have a snack, or go on the internet. They fought to get the attention of their teachers, hoping they would see how helpful, skilled, and behaved they were.

I wondered if I was ever that cute, inquisitive, and impressive. When did I learn to win the game of capitalism? Who taught it to me? I guess I learned it in the beautiful suburban towns of my youth that had every imaginable resource: beautiful libraries, playing fields, streets, woods, parks, homes, and amazing schools. I was born to win the game because I had good coaches. My parents and teachers were humane and didn´t leave me to work to death. They imparted knowledge with a certain embedded morality that saved me from economic ruthlessness.  Teaching is the most humane activity I know. To deny knowledge would make me the savage I was not bred to be.

Popular Posts

Peace Corps Colombia Begins... Again

9/26/2010 – 10/15/2010 C1 On September 26, 2010, I arrived along with 8 others to Barranquilla, Colombia to reinstate the United States Peace Corps . We are called Colombia 1 (C1) even though there were many groups before us from 1961- 1981. Peace Corps had to shut down its programs to protect Peace Corps Volunteers’ (PCVs) safety endangered by guerilla warfare and civil unrest. Now, we are back serve to Colombia`s northern coast, but are still proud to be former PCVs from Liberia, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Dominican Republic, Guatemala,  Honduras, Paraguay, and Colombia. Our ages range from 26 to 69 years old. We are all are from different regions of the US and have different ethnicities. One PCV, Carolina, is from Bogota, Colombia, but moved to Florida when she was 17 years old and became a US citizen. Now, she is serving both the US and Colombia. Our oldest PCV, Philip, served in Colombia from 1963- 1965, returned home to be an ESL teacher in the Compton and Watts neighborhoods of Los …

Top Ten Things I Always Do in Colombia, But Never at Home

10. Shower with cold water since, no one has or needs hot water
9. Eat homemade rice, beans, meat, and soup with a bone in it everyday
8. Sing out loud at school, in the street, and on the bus
7. Keep my bag on my lap or insight at all times
6. Carry toilet paper everywhere I go
5. Drink liquids out of plastic bags instead of bottles
4. Wear clean and ironed clothes everyday
3. Get in-home manicure and pedicure service
2. Put on 50 sunblock all over my body everyday instead of moisturizer
1. Love the weather

La Buseta: Cartagena's Original Roller Coaster Ride

Cartagena has a fun and hectic bus culture with a surprisingly civil etiquette. The buses are called busetas because they are much smaller than most public buses in the world. Many of the Cartagena`s barrio streets are narrow and curvy which makes turning difficult. Anyone over 5'4" is normally uncomfortable with their knees jammed in the back of the seat in front of them. My friends over 6 feet have to stoop when standing on a crowded bus. Their heads hit the ceiling with every bump. It can also be quite hot since, temperatures are normally in the high 80s 10:00AM to 3:00PM every day of the year.

There are a few air-conditioned buses for a few pesos more. However, they do not have what makes most Latin American buses truly fun and festive: music and decorations. In Cartagena, the buses blare all sorts of rhythms: Salsa, Vallenato (Colombia's Country music), Champeta (Afro-Colombian music from Cartagena), and many others that I am still learning. I've never heard any …