For anyone who has had experience with Hispanic cultures, this will be no surprise to you. Schedules here are more of a suggestion than anything else. If that happens, as it often does “no pasa nada” meaning it’s fine, or maybe more literally nothing is going to happen. It’s funny because this literal translation is often how we Americans feel when everything changes or is running late. Nothing is going to happen! Nothing will ever get done!
I guess it actually makes me wonder why we are so driven by schedules and clocks in the states. I guess we are known to be rather productive, or at least we tend to work more hours than many other developed countries. Maybe I am just feeling very relaxed here, but I am not sure why I am always in a rush in the states. I actually would like to adopt more of the laid back attitude of the Nicaraguans.
My teaching schedule while I am here is as follows. In blue are the classes for Ometepe Bilingual School and in green are the classes given to the community for free. Bex and David actually teach several more in the community including for adults. I only help with the high school class since it is on the larger side, but the rest are planned and taught by me.
|11:00-12:00||First Grade||First Grade|
|1:00-2:00||First Grade||First Grade||First Grade|
|2:00-3:00||Grade School||Grade School||Grade School||Grade School||Grade School|
|5:30-7:00||High School||High School||High School|
The grade school class is new. Since there are volunteers, like me, lined up through the end of August, they were able to expand the English offerings even more to the community. So far I only have two students Walmero and Luvianca. We are trying to spread the word to get a few more students to join. They are pretty enthusiastic students though, so I really enjoy my little grade school class.
As I mentioned, schedules are more of a suggestion than a firm plan. I truly think that some of the locals just don’t have a firm grasp on the concept of time. I am in no way putting down the community or commenting on their level of education (although it tends to be lower here in Nicaragua than in the states). I am simply suggesting that strict schedules are not needed by those who live an agricultural life or run a business out of their house. Most people just get up with the sun and work most of the day. Restaurants or pulperías, small stores that sell a bit of everything, are either attached to peoples’ houses or are constructed right next to them. There is virtually no commute for anyone in small communities unless they need to travel a bit to teach or to cultivate crops located in fields outside of town.
Even though this schedule looks perfectly well planned, it does not always happen this way. Today is a Tuesday and I ended up teaching the first grade class at 1:00 today. I was surprised that the teacher notified me the day before. The day that they celebrated Children’s Week my first grade class was cancelled about 10 minutes before it was supposed to start and I was instead invited to join in the festivities. Two days before that I found out that Julia, the first grade teacher would be teaching the children later in the afternoon so I had to call her in the morning to make sure I could reschedule the English class. Not sure what would of happened if someone else hadn’t mentioned this change to me in passing.
With my grade school class, Luvianca and Walmero showed up with their grandma/mom Clara (family trees can be complicated here) about 15 minutes early the first day. The second day it was about 8 minutes late. The third day I waited twenty minutes and then decided to go and take a shower as relief from the heat. When I got out of the shower around 2:45 or 2:50 they were there waiting! I talked to them about the starting time of class, hoping that it would help. The next day it was much better, only about 4 minutes late. Since then they have been arriving more or less right at 2:00. I was surprised by the fluctuation at first. I guess they needed a little practice. The long term volunteers, Bex and David, chalked it up to Nica Time. From now on, if I am ever late in the states, I’ll just tell people I was on Nica Time!