Jen, Andrea, Cherese, and I have had the pleasure of visiting Cobay, the Colegio de Bachilleres, in Santa Elena. The school is similiar to what we call a high school in the U.S. The attend for six semesters, and although it is public, there is a tuition. This level is not required, although primeria (elementary) and secundaria (middle school) are. Cobay has been open for 12 years, and the current director of curriculum is a young woman named Silvia, who graduated from the school. She attended university in Merida, about 90 km north of here. Silvia works to make sure the school follows the curriculum standards, but also she writes grants for supplies, and works to get scholarships for students so they can attend school.
On Monday Jen and I observed second year students after receiving a tour of the grounds. School is from 7-12 and students remain as a group in one classroom, and the teachers rotate into and out of classrooms. The class periods are 50 minutes, and some subjects take up two back to back periods. There is a ten minute break between each class for students to use the restroom, get a drink of water, or visit the canteen where they can purchase snacks including freshly cooked tortillas with ham and cheese. We observed two class periods of Fisica (Physics) then a class called Structura de Mexico, which included lessons on politics and economics of Mexico. The day´s topic was on the social costs of neoliberalism and included some discussion of emmigration. The last class of the day was Tutoria, which is like an Advisory class and the day´s topic was sexual education. The next day we worked with first year students in their English class. Thankfully Jen is a great English as a Second Language teacher and led in teaching three 50 minute class periods of practicing the language, and making family trees. We also had a whole class discussion where students could ask questions about us, where we are from, and what the U.S is like. Several students were really excited to practice their English!
Today we are headed over to San Simon, a small Mayan village where three of our students from yesterday live.
Overall we are having a great experience and the change of lifestyle is refreshing! We walk most places, eat fresh foods and spend lots of time outside, or in buildings that very open with a nice breeze coming through. Most of the people are very friendly and we´ve had great conversations and opportunities to practice our spanish!