“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” -Aristotle
Today consisted of another set of observations in a different school located in El Porvenir. While speaking with the principal, she informed me that out of 936 students (just in the secondary school alone), there is only one psychology intern for them to confide in, should they need to speak with someone. The resources are limited, and no matter how hard the teachers try to build their students up, so many of their families continuously tear them down.
The principal mentioned that just last week, two students got into an argument, which led to one student punching the other in the face. When the school called the student’s parent, the parent came to the school and almost immediately hit her child in the face upon hearing what happened. Fortunately, school administrators were able to intervene, but only for the time being. Unfortunately, what happens when the student returns home is considered a different story.
With regards to continued education, many times, parents will tell their students that after secondary school, they can no longer continue their education because they need to start working and bringing in an income for the family. In other cases, the children aren’t even given that option, and will drop out of school so that they can work instead.
While the principal explained that the school does have successful alumni who they are very proud of, there aren’t many. The mentality is typically to continue working where the parents work upon graduating (if the students complete secondary school), and in this particular city, this usually involves selling goods in the local market or making shoes.
Just a few months ago, Peru experienced a devastating flood, which destroyed many houses and local buildings. One of the teachers spoke to me about a student of hers who was knocked down during the flood and nearly drowned. He hasn’t been able to focus on his school work ever since, and understandably so. Many of the students’ houses were destroyed in the flood as well, which led to them having to stay at the school in the days following the flood. As of this moment, most, if not all of them still do not have a home.
The resources are scarce and lots of the familial situations aren’t conducive to fostering a child’s development in a safe and loving environment. But the students continue to smile, laugh, and find a way to continue to persevere. For many of these students, school is the only place where they are given the opportunity to do so.
After a long day of observations and class (which I’ll discuss in a later post), I went to a local restaurant for dinner with a few of the students on my trip. Papa a la Huancaína (boiled yellow potatoes in a spicy, creamy sauce called Huancaína sauce.) and tallarín saltado con pollo was the perfect way to end the night.
Fitting in and the desire to be socially accepted by others are age old concepts that follow us all the way from childhood up until our senior years. We desperately seek the approval from those around us, and in many instances, we even change who we are to please a certain group of people.
We continuously strive for an acceptance from others, when in fact, we should be the only ones needing to accept us as who we are. Only when we become comfortable with ourselves can we become more comfortable with those around us. And only when we can learn to accept ourselves can this yearning for social desirability and approval slowly disappear.
As I got out of my car to run some errands, I noticed a beautiful duck crossing the street. It took its time, and didn’t care that there were impatient people whose busy schedules were now put on a momentary pause. Instead, the duck slowly waddled and even stopped for a photograph.
If we could make an effort to care less about what others think and care more about accepting ourselves for who we are, we’d experience less stress on a daily basis. We’d probably even be able to focus our attention on things that are much more important (like a perfectly posed duck in the middle of the street).