Saturday, June 14, 2008

The School Presentation, Part 1

I thought I'd devote this post to still pictures, to prepare the way for the kids.

The presentation was held outside in front of the school.  The pavilion was for special guests, which meant retired teachers.  We were with Maritza Espinosa, who is a retired teacher, and she invited us into the pavilion with her.  It's the reason why I shot the videos as best as I could around flagpoles, umbrellas and other objects; our angle of viewing underneath the pavilion was worse than the chairs set out under the sun.  However, it was nice to be in the shade.

The woman to the extreme right with her hair pulled back and wearing a red blouse is our friend, Maritza Espinosa.  To her right is her daughter, Marisin.  As with any of these images, if you click on them, you'll get a larger one.

Here we have the Minister of Education, all the way from Panama City to lend his august presence in order to open the proceedings.  Forgive me if I wasn't impressed.  The picture flatters him because it doesn't show the phony politician's smile pasted on his face for most of the proceedings.  It was especially prominent, the smile, when he announced that the Escuela Felix A. Lara right here in Potrerillos was going to become THE model school for all of Chiriquí once the government was through upgrading it.

Yeah, sure.  

Panamanians are polite.  Under similar circumstances, given the realities of where the money really goes and the history, an American audience would at best have been stone silent; realistically you'd have heard jeering laughter.  Here, people pretended to believe it.

What offended me even more than his phony smile was the fact that he was unshaven.  Mustaches are very common among the men here; beards are not.  Last I saw, razors were readily available in all the stores.  I personally thought it was insulting, but then I'm American and I don't know how Panamanians view it.  I didn't ask.

He left after his thankfully brief remarks, trailing an entourage of about 6 to 8 women.

This is the director of the school which is known formally as the Centro Básico.  It's more than just a primary school since it includes Grades 7 through 9.  after that, the kids go to the colegio or high school in Dolega.

She's young to have such an important position.  Maritza told me that she's been in the position 4 years, and that she's worked extremely hard.  I can believe it.  Getting three new classrooms in any kind of reasonable time must have taken Herculean effort, given the way things go here in Panamá.

The dates you see on the lectern are first, the date the school was inaugurated and the second, when it was named after Dr. Lara.  Maritza told me that there used to be, in the earlier days of the pueblo, a lot of two story houses; she grew up in one.  She said that before there was a school, classes were held in the private houses, on the bottom floors.  This was true of her house as well; the family lived on the upper floor.

In the museo, there are some very old photographs, especially of the first "educators", as they're called here.  One was taken in 1905 of a woman who was the first in Potrerillos.  there are a lot of old photographs there; I want to go back and take more pictures, learn more.


juanriosvega said...

Excellent comments. And you are right, that ministry of education must shave his beard to be in public. It is very disrespectful to be a keynote speaker and role model having an unshape appearance. I am so glad you get so involved in education in Potrerillos. I have bought a piece of land there, so I will start building a summer house shortly.

Joyce said...

Buenas, Juan!

I gather that the "unshaven" look is a style that is popular among the younger set in parts of the US, but this isn't the US and it isn't even Panama City--this is rural Chiriquí and there are certain standards. I for instance cringe when I see the way some American men and women dress when they are in David. It may be ok for Boquete or for hanging around the house, but it is just not "done" here. I wear shorts at home, as does my friend Maritza Espinosa, but I do NOT wear shorts out in public--always long pants of some kind or another because I am a woman of a certain age and that is the dress code here.

I don't want to intrude on the educators in Potrerillos, and so we will find out through our friends. That seems like the most tactful way to go about it. Maritza knows all these people, and she will know the right way to approach them. If there is something we can do to help, fine--if not, we will at least have tried and they will have our names in case the situation changes.

By the way, where are you building in Potrerillos? In the pueblo itself?

Hasta luego