Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Animal Welfare

The girls had their first day of "day care" today. First of all, they may be young, but they're not idiots. It became apparent to them the minute I started talking about this "day care" crap that it was actually school. I was only fooling myself, but not even really fooling myself. I knew they knew, I just didn't want to hurt my feelings by letting me know that the ruse was not working.
I got them to school at 8:50. We waited outside a huge gate. All the schools in Spain seem to be surrounded by huge walls and locked gates. I'm not yet sure if this is to keep predators out or to keep the students from escaping. But nobody can enter unless they have a key or they use a buzzer and explain to the gatekeeper why they need to enter the school.
At 9:00 a gatekeeper came out and opened the gates. The kids were supposed to line up according to their classroom. I went in with the kids but was quickly accosted by a gatekeeper.
"No." He said.
"Si." I said.
"Eres la ingles?"
"Si." I said, having accepted that I will forever be known as English. Seriously, what in the heck would an American be doing here anyway?
Anyway that got me leave to go to the office and meet with the director.
We were led up to Blue's classroom where the teacher bitched about her not having three different and very specific types of notebooks. He also bitched about her not having pens and pencils. This was apparently a big deal.
Then there was a much bigger problem of some sort with Green's placement. I got the sense that the person who was going to be her teacher was not happy about it because she spoke zero English. They wanted to put her into a different class where the teacher spoke very little English. For some reason the principal did not like that idea and another teacher joined in to argue with him. The teachers prevailed and Green went into the much superior 'very little English' class. This required that we wait for some Fernando guy to change Green's enrollment in the computer. At this point I was a half an hour late for work. It took another twenty minutes to sort it all out. Also there was more bitching about the lack of notebooks, pencils and pens. Finally everything was fixed and I made a hasty retreat before anything else could go wrong.
I arrived at work and hour late.
Nobody cared. They expected something like this would happen and anyway, being late here is not a big deal. In fact, it's pretty much expected.
I had my first class which was the pig raising class. I met with the teacher and he told me that the students know very little English even though this is the second year of using English in his class. We went to the classroom where my duties were to say the following sentences in English:
Welfare Principles: The Five Freedoms
1. Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition.
2. Freedom from discomfort due to environment.
3. Freedom from disease.
4. Freedom to express normal behavior for the species.
5. Freedom from fear and distress.
6. Freedom from being slaughtered and eaten!

Haha, that last one is mine. He told me that Spain wouldn't be interested in these freedoms at all except that as part of the EU they have to follow agreements as they are voted on by the EU member countries. He said the northern countries overwhelm the vote and lucky for the animals more humane practices are adopted. He showed me some of his other papers that said that gestation crates are going to be phased out by 2013 and that all new pig housing facilities are not allowed to incorporate them.
The kids come from all over Andalucia for this class. Their English is about as bad as my Spanish. I had to cover my face with my papers while they tried to read those sentences. Although their accents are adorable, they totally butchered every word. Much like a pigs ripe for the slaughter.
After that I went to pick up the girls, half expecting them to be having nervous breakdowns. First I saw Green who looked emotionally stable. Next Blue appeared, surrounded by five kids. It looked like she'd started some sort of gang. She was also of sound mind. She later told me that that gang of kids had followed her around all day trying to speak Spanish and a little English with her. Green met an English girl who told her that for PE she "Couldn't wear a proper jumper, only a track suit." Oh my god! That is just toooooo cute!
Today in class, Blue was working on writing words that begin with P in cursive. There were pictures drawn of various P words. Guess what one of them was of? A little boy peeing in the grass. Pipi. A very important word to learn to write in cursive, I'm sure.

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