Day Three: Thursday May 14.
What did I do Thursday? I spent the day compiling contacts. I now have a rather exhaustive list of all my contacts from all the brochures and random lists I had found in my computer files left by previous ECD Specialists. It is frustrating to reorganize but I'm starting to feel better. It took a good part of my day and I don't know if it was that effective but hopefully it will be. In the afternoon Clemencia was like so are you ready for Life Skills tonight? AKA do you have childrens activities ready? Uhhhh... no. Why? Because I was not aware I would be responsible for it the FIRST WEEK. Then she was like don't worry we didn't expect you to quite yet.. PHEW. BUT you do have to get the rooms set up and ready to go. SO I started with that. Getting the water and snacks and things ready. Picking books etc. I was lucky enough to be in the room with the older Kids. I had: Cy, Al, An, Je, Ma, Al, Ba and one other girl who's name has gone. I'm trying very hard to learn names around here and failing miserably. It was a lot of fun though. The older girl.. Jessica I think... was a lot of help and we connected by pop up books. All I had was paper scissors and crayons so we made bird mask popups and she was so intrigued by how to make a simple popup. It was a lot of fun. One of the little girls kept cutting out squares, drawing door knobs and saying she made me doors. Which made me laugh. Then she had me draw a cupcake so I wrote in the card, Cupcakes are sweet and so are you.. She then made me a card with a cake and wrote ver batim: Christmas merry sweet to you have cake. I busted out laughing and gave her a big hug. No Idea. Loved it. Posted it on my wall.
Friday May 15:
Today was allll computers. I spent the entire day looking up job listings and printing them out. Nothing too exciting just trying to find the best sites for el paso. Sadly the El Paso Times website didn't work and they usually have the most up to date and legitimate job postings. Its fun to sort of be comfortable with this part because I spend my month of job searching myself. The hard part is that a lot of these women barely have there GED or don't have it so my searching focus is a lot different. I have to look for hourly skilled jobs for basically the equivalent education of a 16 year old, or an 18 year old. Some of the women have some college but some don't. I had to mark a lot of the ones for UTEP and EPCC as BA/MA required so they don't waste their time.
Reflections this week:
I am flip flopping between feeling competent, and feeling so tiny. It is because these women are so incredible. They are taking steps to improve their lives and they are so humble and sweet, yet hard and independent. I had a conversation with one of the women Lo. She is in the process of taking her gen Eds at EPCC in hopes to get a CNA by the time she leaves. After that she wants to pursue teaching with the money she is making as a CNA. I don't know how thats going to work quite yet but we'll have our first official meeting in a week or two. Either way she was so excited about this class she just finished her exams for. The teacher was proud of her and praised her in front of the other students. Papers that would take a middle class freshman 20 minutes takes her hours because she is not used to formal typing,writing, english, research etc. But she did it, with kids and work and all sorts of issues to deal with. These are the types of situations I'll be working with and I am already excited for my first graduation party.
But why do I feel competent/incompetent? I am that college freshman who grew up writing papers in twenty minutes. I can do my job and do it well. I am 24 with an almost masters, no kids, a full time job, benefits, a car, and a support system. But I had it so easy. How can I tell these women everything will be fine when I don't know if they'll pass their GED? Not because they are dumb, but because the system asks you to use a type of english they are not used to. I was reading a book called Understanding Poverty that talks about how students from low to very low income grow up with the social rules of their class which often excludes the formal register of speech required for success in the middle class. Think of life at work. When you have conversations with your friends, your conversations require their interaction. Every conversation is like a story being told.. Then so and so.. do you believe it? But when we switch to business or school the tone changes.. or register as this book calls it. You switch to a formal register. So and so has this job to do and will finish it by this time. Thank you, Sincerely Phyllis. This is the register that is a required rule for success in the middle class, but a register that most low to very low class families rarely use or have access to. The education system is based on the median "culture" aka the middle class culture and its rules. Which means low class students go to school in a middle class culture, and are required to learn the invisible cultural rules of that class in order to pass the tests. Think of testing: ALL IN THE FORMAL REGISTER. GED=FORMAL REGISTER. Applications, job interviews, job descriptions, course listings, everything needed to succeed in the middle class.. or any class.. requires use of a type of english that most of the women at the center don't really have access to.
So that leaves me with a question. How can I use what I know to benefit them?
Saturday May 16th:
My Training was this weekend!!!
I am not going to say to much right now because I'll be spending my day processing and I don't want to get into that brain right now but I will say it went very very well thanks to becky and peggy for all their help. My spanish was relatively rough but the activities we did helped a lot because instead of presenting content they could read it and we could explain it to the groups in more depth. It was so hard and so challenging but went very well! A lot of the women left very grateful and excited to use their new information. Success!