Elections – Salem

We are in the home stretch of election season here in Guatemala. Elections are on the 11th. No matter where you go, there are pictures everywhere of the candidates, HUGE ads on the streets, trucks blasting political songs while people dressed in political t-shirts yell from the back reminding people to vote. There are booths set up in the central park so people can register. Everyone is getting ready for next week. We don’t really know much about the political things happening in Guatemala. We know that the current president is not doing very much for the country. We also know who our friends want to win. There are so many political parties here that it’s hard to keep track of them all.

The week after the elections is going to be an interesting week for us. The government closes down the public schools in the area to use as polling areas and places to count the votes. Since Colegio Boston is a private school, they don’t have to close, but we won’t have classes that week either. From what some people have told me, if people get angry about something happening in Guatemala, they protest by closing roads. They stand in a big group and block traffic on the roads. The government has more to worry about than a group of people blocking traffic, so they don’t do much about it. The school is worried that cars and buses won’t be able to get to school if people are blocking the roads. So we will be closed September 12-16.

The other big thing that is coming up this month is Guatemala’s independence day. Their independence day is September 15. Since we won’t be in school for that day, we are planning a celebration on the 9th. My students will all be wearing traditional clothing, and I have to wear a Guatemalan shirt. My grade and the two younger ones will be selling Guatemalan food in the morning. Then we have a party where some classes sing songs, dance, or perform for the school. My class is reciting a poem and singing a song.

We also have the spelling bee this week. Each class had an in-class spelling bee last week and we had to pick the top 3 students from each class to do another spelling bee in front of the principal and the head of the English department. It’s a little hard to have 6-year-olds do a spelling bee when they are just learning letters and are getting confused between English and Spanish letters, but I have some really good spellers! Two of the kids were really big surprises for me, but they were so determined that they practiced every night with their older siblings and it paid off! The spelling bee is going to be this Tuesday and I’m really excited to see how the kids do!

I also started tutoring two little girls last week. Hania (my cooperating teacher from student teaching) gave one of her friends my email and he asked me to help his daughters with reading in English. He and his wife both speak English, and the girls are bilingual, but they need to practice reading in English. So I go to their hotel (they own one of the big hotels in Antigua) Monday – Thursday for an hour or an hour and a half every day to read with Isabella and to read to Vivien. Isabella is 6 and reads very well, and Vivien is 4 and is just starting to read, so I mostly read to her. It’s a fun job and the girls are really great.

We’ve been here for almost 2 months and we’re starting to look for places to go to renew our visas. We can only be in the country for 90 days and then we have to leave to get our passport restamped. Luckily we work at a travel agency, so we know about a lot of the places and we know the cost. We’ll let you know what we decide.

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