Saturday he headed out in afternoon and I went to the birthday party for Alex. There was no luz, which meant no music so the kids were quite restless. But it was fun. And getting cake is always a good thing.
Sunday I planned all morning and then there was a party at a farm. It's held every year for a saint and the kids to in the morning and the adults at night. It was so awesome. I didn't drink-don't want that kind of publicity and there were TONS of people. And palo music which was so incredible. A group of guys in a circle with tall, skinny drums and what looks like a cheese grater (forgive me) is brushed hard with a "stick." It was fast and exciting. Then the bachata and merengue. And the food. Wow. Apparently there's another party just like it in the spring too. Gonna have to practice my palo dancing and get rid of this verguenza by then!
Sunday night I didn't sleep a wink. For whatever reason, I was super nervous about Monday-the day I got Diego! So I got out of bed exhausted and made it to the capital by 9. I did some Jumbo shopping for a few things (which turned into too many things) and met Ellen at the vet. Turns out Diego had ticks and now a tick-born parasite. I waited with her in the lobby while he was drying after his tick bath. But as soon as he came out the door and I saw him for the first time, the nerves vanished instantly (cue sappy movie music). Seriously though. She and I headed out with her friend who had a truck to KM9 so I could catch my car. She was struggling. And though my nerves went away, my guilt only grew. She had had Diego since he was born. His mother died and he would have to if she hadn't adopted him... Diego had also always lived with his sister. I felt as though I was tearing a family apart. And as she handed me his leash, I ripped her heart out too..
The first carro wasn't thrilled about my dog. But I paid for the two front seats and he sat on my lap (he's a 40lb dog but thinks he's a lap dog) the whole way. He moved quite a bit but never barked, didn't throw up, and we made it without problems! In Villa I stopped in to get his antibiotic at the pharmacy and we were off in another car! These guys were way better. And got a kick out of the fact that he would sit on the floor-only my lap.
Finally after an emotionally exhausting morning, we made it. And an hour later I had to leave him in the house for a bit. I felt awful. But I fed him and laid on the floor with him until I had to go. It was meeting time with Zach from Courts4Kids! We met at the school and Ramirez and the contractor were on time! Zach explained many things and my community leaders had many questions. This was a good thing! Zach really felt like they were taking ownership of the project (because it IS theirs) but were also open to ideas for change so we could lower the estimate. Afterwards Zach and I headed to my place and we chatted about a few more things I need to do before his next visit. There's apparently 9 applicants here in the DR right now and they can only do 5 or 6... Say some prayers please?
Once he left, I planned for the rest of the night with Diego at my side and about 20 kids drawing and coloring. Diego was SO good with them. Of course they were all terrified of him at first because of his size and the way dogs are here but they learned quickly how chill he is and have loved up on him like crazy since.
Tuesday I did pull-outs with my fourth graders for half the day. Then I noticed my director outside cleaning and the first graders going crazy inside alone. I went and took the broom from her and spent the rest of the day cleaning and organizing the school so she could teach... Even if that wasn't what she wanted. When I got home, Diego was at the door and I can't tell you how good that felt to come home to someone. He wandered around outside while I cooked (I was originally nervous about letting him go free like that but he always comes back! Now to buy a rope and chain so he can stay outside during the days when I'm at school). I went to El Batey in the afternoon and was finally able to finish my evaluations. And it was depressing. Also the fact that two teachers had to ask the names of two of their students... "You-what's your name? Yea, you don't know how to read." Then as I'm doing other random evaluations with kids that are coming over and bothering us, I came to find that more than those on my list can't read. So now, I have AT LEAST half of first grade, second grade, and third grade with me.
I left and planned for the rest of the night until midnight-taking a break and running at the field with Diego, of course. Who turned out to be a phenomenal running buddy and was so incredibly patient with all the kids wanting to hold his leash. But no matter who was holding him, he would only run when I ran and walk when I walked haha.
Wednesday I did none of my pull-outs. The director asked me to do a few things which turned into, "well there's no point in even starting them now so I'll just do more to keep us organized later in the year..." Then, ready with plans for El Batey, I realized while resting in the break that I didn't have a space to work there yet. Outside was way too crazy with the breeze, children distracting us, and possibility of rain. So I decided to just go there, show them my schedule and organize the kitchen as a classroom. I saw the pastor on my way over who always makes me feel better and said I had every right to do that. And I did. I told them what I was doing rather than asked and bam. I had a space. I left after an hour cuz there was no point in starting classes then and stopped back at the pastor's. of course we spoke of a million and one things but eventually I left to get Diego and my iPad to show him MercyMe's music. He LOVED it :) now I've gotta find a way to transfer it to his USB and print out lyrics. It would help him with his English, after all!
I left, went for another run with Diego and my kiddos and returned home to cook, clean up, and plan some more...
Today? I awoke even more exhausted so I'm gonna skip school tomorrow. Of course, Nati wasn't there to tell her (no worries, Mavel came to teach first grade so I didn't have to) but I'm doing it anyways... I did pull-outs with my fourth graders until recess. During recess, I was inside the school with Ramona and Manuela (the seventh grader that we're helping together). There was screaming in another room. I walk in to Pamela and Samuel tearing each other apart and Samuel was sobbing. i broke it up and rocked Samuel until he calmed down. I went back to working with them when more yelling out back was heard. I went and broke another fight with two older boys. And got hit in the face in the process. Then the kids were climbing our cage that holds the water jugs. Then another fight. It was absolute chaos. Then a group of first graders ran through a pack and Meliana got kicked in the knee where she already had a decent cut. Screaming bloody murder I took her inside. And as I walked in, Manuela was crying. Ramona had walked away to check on something so Manuela was standing by the door waiting. Another kid came running through and slammed the door shut on her hand leaving three good sized blood clots on her knuckles. I saw the other teachers and yelled, "This is absolutely crazy! And this cannot happen anymore! During recess, all of the kids need to be outside and one teacher needs to be in front, one on the side, one in back, and one inside. Enough!" I was livid. Ramona agreed and the others said nothing.
After, my plan was to continue. But of course, that was my plan. A teacher's husband's back was apparently so bad he could barely walk so she had to take him to the hospital. He drove to the school to pick her up... So I went to third grade. I literally said to them, "Today, you will work. And work hard. And in silence. I have no patience. I'm angry and sad. I want silence. Now." With limited patience, I had to remind them a few times but we survived. And at the end, I read them a story and they were completely silent, enthralled, predicting the next page, and when the bell rang, I went to close the book and they yelled at me to finish. Haha
I left with Ramona to head to El Batey to talk with Manuela's parents. We wanted to make sure they knew what happened and apologize because as educators, we are responsible for the safety of their children. It went well, the mother wasn't upset, and she understood.
By the time I got home, I had 45 minutes to cook, let Diego out (poor thing :( ) and head back to El Batey. I got there and started my classes. They were a bit crazy and I've certainly got to make some sort of behavior chart unlike on my side. around 3:30, Luisa passed me her phone and said it was Ramona. I answered, and she told me she was leaving and not coming back. That she was sorry because she cared for me and loved me but she just couldn't do it anymore. I wanted to leave so bad to see her... But she was gone and I had classes. And by 4, the rains threatened. So they let the kids go. Lord, you did it again. I booked it despite every person yelling for me not to get wet. I had to see Natividad and find out what happened. I made it soaking wet (had to fight with a teacher telling her that me coming and getting soaked was more important than staying dry back at the other school), she explained, and then the community came. Seven in total; screaming, talking over each other, getting angry, calming down, attacking Natividad, some defending, arguing about things that didn't matter, things that weren't the issue, etc. It was absolutely insane. And after getting sick of them attacking Natividad about all the things she HAS to do, I yelled, "ENOUGH. If you're going to say these things to her, you have to say the same to Ramona!" They agreed, and want to have a meeting with Natividad and Ramona... Soon. Like Monday when I'm supposed to be in the capital all week. I also yelled again when they got off topic and said "BUT THIS ISN'T EVEN THE ISSUE!" Kenia finally got them all to shut up, pray, and leave. It was 6:30. School lets out at 5 and I had made it there dripping wet at 4:30.
So I told Natividad I would teach 4th grade until she needed me to. So much for not going to the school tomorrow. My pull-outs have come to a halt. And Natividad has threatened to leave as well. She can't work in this atmosphere. And I don't blame her.
And through this mess I'm trying so hard to stay positive. So here's my list.
What I have to be grateful for:
Yucca and salami.
My kids even if they do just love me cuz I give them time to color and cut and paste and draw.
Courts4Kids and the possibility in my community.
My director, Ramirez, and the contractor who were all super open to ideas but also took ownership of the project.
My Peace Corps friends.
I have "my own" space in El Batey now to teach-the kitchen.
Family and friends back home.