Saturday, November 14, 2015

Peru Update 2 - LISOFT

Dear friends and family,
Greetings from Peru! Many of you have expressed a desire to receive monthly updates from me. (If you do not wish to receive updates, please let me know and I will remove you from my mailing list!) I am going to attempt two updates per month: one general and one specific. In this update I will be talking about LISOFT - the school where I work.
LISOFT (Lima International School of Tomorrow) was founded in 1994. It is a small branch of the international "School of Tomorrow," educational system (there are around 110 students total). LISOFT uses the A.C.E. curriculum (accelerated Christian education) which is an individualized self-study program. (Think crossover between homeschooling and AWANA). Each student takes a diagnostic test and is prescribed a curriculum plan based on their results. They are then assigned workbooks in Math, Social Studies, Science, English, & Etymology (vocab) which they work through at their own pace (notwithstanding, each student is required to complete 72 workbooks per year).
If you would like to learn more about the school, here is a link to their website and a link to a (extremely outdated) youtube video which talks about the A.C.E. curriculum:
Each morning I wake up at 6:30 to get to the school by 8:00 o'clock. At 8:15, the opening exercises commence (see photo above). During the opening exercises, the children sing the national anthem of America, Peru, and La Molina (the district of Lima where the school is located); they recite the pledges to the American Flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible (identical to the AWANA program in the States); then they head to their classrooms for a brief devotional given by the teachers. After prayer and devotional time, the children split up and head to their corresponding classes. There are two types of classes: individual classes (this is a traditional student-teacher lecture setting) and the Learning Center (this is the self-study time where the students advance in their assigned PACE's).
This is a typical Learning Center. (Note the partitions designed to minimize distractions). I work primarily in the high school Learning Center (see photo above) where on any given day we have 8-35 students ranging from ages 13-17. Although the students (ideally) set their own goals and work at their own paces, I am responsible for ensuring they are completing those goals and advancing at a sufficient rate. 
As you would expect of high schoolers, most of them would rather sleep/play/talk with their neighbor than advance in their workbooks. To help motivate the students, there is a system of merits and demerits. When students complete their goals, memorize their bible passage, and arrive properly attired in their uniform, they receive merits which they can use to buy toys/food at the merit store. If they are caught sleeping, cheating, talking, not wearing their uniform, walking around the room without permission, and/or harassing their neighbor, they receive demerits (three demerits is a detention.)
When the students have a question, they raise their flag and myself or one of the supervisors goes to help them. Since LISOFT is a bilingual school, all of the workbooks are in English. However, because the students are at varying levels of English proficiency, sometimes they don't understand the instructions or the vocab. Needless to say, I have been dusting off un-used grammar and math skills as well as random history and science trivia that has been stored away for 10+ years.  

During our short lunch break, I eat and talk with the kids. (Apparently, teenagers have no problem taking selfies, but the minute you want to take a candid photo, they wish to remain anonymous). Sometimes I play Uno with the freshmen, volleyball with the girls, or soccer with the boys. (Or sometimes I hide in the empty Learning Center to steal a few moments of peace. ;)
Aside from the Learning Center, I teach a Public Speaking Class on Fridays and tutor a high school senior who is studying to take the SAT. At 3:15 pm after our closing prayer, the kids leave and we begin the daily task of re-organizing the Score Keys, grading and filing PACE's and tests, and recording test scores and behavioral issues. Depending on the week, the teachers generally leave between 4:00-5:00 pm.
Though teaching was not my original plan when I decided to move to Peru, I have a new appreciation for the profession. The job is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting, the hours are long, and the pay is (literally) peanuts. However, it is challenging and fulfilling at the same time. Getting to know each student and seeing them achieve their goals is rewarding. It is also mentally stimulating; as the students learn, I am learning along with them.
Prayer Requests:
-    Please pray for me to find a volunteer opportunity in interpretation/translation.
-    Pray for me to manage my time and finances wisely.


-    I found a loving church home that is close by.
-    After weeks of struggling to adjust to the climate, food, and new germs, this past week things have finally evened out. I feel healthy and strong. (Please pray that this streak of health/stamina continues!)