First Day in Guatemala: Ten Things that I have Learned Today
1) Toilet paper cannot be flushed in Guatemala, we have been instructed to throw it in the wastebasket as there have been many earthquakes and the fragile septic system can no longer tolerate toilet paper.
2) There are a number of single mothers in Guatemala as getting married is quite expensive. It is not unusual for a man to have more than one family. Thus solving the irony of the daycare worker's explanation of how the children were making father's day gifts today at the daycare, father's day in Guatemala is June 17, and in the next breath telling us that most of the children were in the care single mothers.
3) Special education programs last as long as the parents need their children to go someplace during the day. Today we visited a special education program and were conducting speech and language "evaluations" on some "children" that were in their late 20's. One little guy ( a five year old child) had a left ear congenital atresia and possible progressive hearing loss in the right ear, he is otherwise in all ways a typical child and is in the special education class because he was reportedly made fun of in the regular school classroom.
4) None of the children that we "evaluated" today were even close to being as impaired as most of the children I have seen in special education classrooms in the United States. One reason is that more impaired children tend to be kept at home in this country and do not attend school.
5) I use the term "evaluated" in quotes as between grabbing interpreters (a couple of whom are speech and hearing science students in our group), managing the small bug infestation that was the outdoor classroom tables at snack time, and complete lack of structure that is the school day in Guatemala after 12:30pm, I didn't feel as though I was conducting a very informative or helpful evaluation or leaving solidly thought out notes for the next group of volunteers.
6) I found out that the teachers in Guatemala graduate high school, go to a year of technical training, and then begin to teach.
7) More schools need to be built to replace the crumbling old ones that are often sites for vandalism. This is frequently done through private donations as the Guatemalan government is inefficient, of course, that was no surprise.
8) There is not warm water or hot water for showering, the water is "tepid" that is how it comes out and that is how it stays.
9) Moleskin has many uses besides patching blisters on sore hiking feet, one of them being to patch bathroom window screens.
10) The people of Guatemala will root for any team playing against Mexico in the World Cup games.