Sunday, February 20, 2011

Group Hug!

In Colombia there is a word used to describe an event where people come together in unification.  In the U.S. we might refer to it as a "group retreat" or possibly a "team-building conference."  Here it is called a convivencia (literally, "living together").  Since the 9th graders I teach lost the privilege to go for a week to Isla Gorgona due to irresponsible behavior by many during a similar event as 8th graders and several incidences this current school year with theft and poor treatment of substitutes, it was decided several days away from school with the teachers in an isolated environment to work out some class issues, might be a positive thing.

So, off we headed to a finca ("farm") in the department of Quindio in the heart of the coffee region for two days and nights of "living together."  This region is popular for other trips by our school as the weather is normally comfortable and it is relatively close - about three hours by bus.  During this time the students attended a several workshops by either us or a couple of outside psychologists about team-building, confidence, responsibility, and inclusion, among other themes.  While the dividends of the experience are yet to be seen, I think the trip accomplished one major feat: it humanized some of the teachers for the students, and possibly vice versa.

The event flew by but we still found time to enjoy the space we were in which included several nice pools, a stream with a small waterfall, and a bonfire.  While its no whale-watching, snorkeling, or coral beach, it was a nice break from the daily school grind.

At my "empathy" workshop: Camila, Maria Paula, & Isabella
Nicolás at the "empathy" workshop.

Los Muchachos: Sebastián, Juan Camilo, Rodrigo, Andrés,
Henry, Lucas, Pablo, Juan Camilo, Luis, & Nicolás
How low can you go? Picking up a cut-off paper bag with
no hands and only your feet touching the ground
New challenge: How many 9th graders can you fit in one pool?
Welcome to the Quindío countryside.
Taking a dip in the stream near the waterfall.
Las chicas y la chorrera
(Andrea, Catalina, Juanita, María Antonia, Isabella, & Laura)
Singing at the bonfire...probably Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift
(Note: Some kids using their BlackBerries to follow the lyrics.)

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