Saturday, December 17, 2011

Feliz Navidad!

This blog hasn't been widely circulated for a while for reasons you will understand if you read through the postings of the last several months.  Now, however, there are lots of positive things to report although Alexander remains in jail and is likely to stay there for at least the foreseeable future due to his inability to convince anyone to pay almost $8,000 for his release.  As his interactions with all of his children were, at best, minimal and ambiguous everyone is adjusting reasonably well to his absence.

Denis (14) and Astrid (12) started in November at a new bi-lingual, international school ( just outside of Antigua. In its first year of operation it is small enough that both children are receiving all the attention and help that they need to catch up after suffering from the Guatemalan educational system.  Denis, whom you might imagine, has suffered the most from having a deadbeat dad is just thrilled with the new school and after six weeks is already using his newly learned English.  I am sure part of his thrill is about having some decent male role models (the director and the majority of his teachers are gringos) who care about him and his progress.  "Dad" may soon be a distant memory.  Astrid, too, has taken to the new school like a fish to water.  The teachers report that both are working very hard.  They have already been on a field trip to the zoo in Guatemala City to do research for a science project.  Both are stunned to find out that school can be fun.

Denis at the school Christmas Party
Astrid wants to be a doctor or veterinarian.
It is possible that Denis and Astrid are also smiling about the school itself which would make any of us want to start the education process over.

School for Denis and Astrid
One of several classrooms
Jackie (16) who is still in the Guatemalan educational trap is learning English if not much else.  It was her choice to attend a bi-lingual secretarial (sort of) high school.  As she is so good with small children and so interested in books and reading it is my hope that she will go on to become a teacher or work in a library.  After her unusual introduction (previous post) to her half-siblings during a car ride to visit her father in jail Jackie has quietly been in contact with their mother and has been spending her school vacation afternoons in the Antigua market taking care of Chris (4) and Michelle (3).

Jackie's only gift from "Papa," a new sister.
And a little brother too.
As you might imagine Estela has always been less than thrilled about the existence of this other family.  However, she too finds life much easier with Alexander locked away.  She now accepts the children maintaining that they are "innocentes."  Jackie has been permitted to go to visit her father with her "step-mother" and all five were recently busy decorating my Christmas tree, the first ever for Chris and Michelle.

Chris and Michelle just finished a vacation program at their bi-lingual, Montessori pre-school and are eager to return in January.  Both are thriving and speaking a mix of English and Spanish.  If only every child in the world was able to go to school, especially a decent school, things might be very different.  Let's keep our eyes on these five (all I can manage), especially little Michelle.

Happy Holidays and let's hope that the world becomes a better place for all in 2012!