I’m not going to lie. I like being the center of attention. Honestly, it’s probably one of the reasons I got into teaching in the first place. On stage, eight hours a day, five days a week. While the need for constant attention has worn off as I have gotten older, there is still a bit of that little kid in me that craves to be a rock star.
Yesterday was probably the closest that I will ever come to being one.But first, the long journey before my rise to rock legend.
The first two days of my Peru trip were, for lack of a better word, theoretical. I am not being dismissive or unappreciative, but I was honestly frustrated at how little time we were spending actually experiencing Peru. I wasn’t here to sit behind a desk!!
That being said, the speakers were engaging. The information was relevant and shared in an organized and easy-to-follow fashion. The hours spent sitting behind desks, listening to all things Peru were ultimately very productive. We discussed Peruvian history, geography, and culture. Dr. Laura Balbuena, the head of Fulbright Peru, gave a history and summary of the many inequities facing minority populations in Peru today.
We took a trip to the American embassy in Peru and met with principals of five of the largest schools in Lima, along with he head of Lima’s Ministry of Education. Collectively, they are responsible for educating 1,200,000 students. Many of the challenges that the Peruvian school system faces (not to mention their society as a whole) are similar to what we are grappling with in the states. Over the course of the two days, again and again, I heard echos of conversations that I have had with many US school teachers and concerned parents:
How do we make education more equitable and just?
How can limited resources stretch to meet the needs of individual students.
In retrospect, I realized that the first two days of book learning were important. These meetings provided context to the school site visits that we were coming over the next week and a half.
In essence, the Fulbright staff along with the Peruvian representatives they chose were saying, “Many students in Lima are impoverished and marginalized. Here is the framework that the state is using to try and address the situation and help those in need.”
Additionally, a minor detail that was stressed from multiple people was the respect that students (and the Peruvian society as a whole) has for teachers. We were as well prepared as we could have been with a two day overview of Peru and its system of education.
Tomorrow, we head to school!
Sounds like a good way to learn about Peruvian inequality in education. We here in the states are aware of that also. It is sometimes called the “Digital Divide”. Libraries often help with the marginalized by offering lap tops patrons can check out. I wonder how Peruvian authorities in education hope to fix the problem similar to this. Very interesting Greg!! Enjoy your time there and “don’t hog the spotlight”. 🙂
Thanks for your comment, Kim!
Inequities like the “Digital Divide” are certainly difficult to overcome. Resources like librarians loaning laptops to those in need is a great start. I think that having dedicated, well compensated teachers that have the respect of their students and families is ultimately what needs to happen in order to make a big turnaround.
I think most Americans don’t realize that there are multiple cultures living side by side and mixed in South America. The marginalization of the indigenous was a surprise to me when I was visiting Oaxaca. Hope your travels and teaching are going well!
Unfortunately, from what I’ve observed, while most Peruvians really seem to value their Inca past, they have a hard time showing respect for people who currently speak Quechuan and are from from the Andes. Echos of how indigenous populations are treated in the states.