Wow was I in for a treat! I loved this movie. It triggered so many emotions and memories of my Peace Corps experiences, being a bilingual educator, and working with parents at Vivian Pratt's school this fall during the literacy nights. It brought me back to my roots!
Watching McFarland USA also helped ignite a fire in me. This fire has been growing year by year. By watching the movie, this fire is no longer an ember, but raging inferno. It cannot be extinguished. Now, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that what I have decided to do for the next school year, is the best decision for me. I have been thinking about doing this for quite a while, but there were things that got in the way. After much consideration and council, I have decided to go back to the classroom. I have been working as a staff developer and teacher trainer for quite some time. Much of my time has been spent in classrooms with teachers and students. I would like to have more of my time spent with teachers and students, but on a full time basis. Watching McFarland, has confirmed my belief that the classroom working emerging bilinguals would be the best thing for me to do. I will be with my bilingual students again and work with parents too. I am so excited about this opportunity.
When I worked with Vivian Pratts and Alana Morris on the Family Literacy Project this Fall, I felt completely at home. As a coordinated effort with the wonderful teachers and staff at Edgewood Elementary, we were able to conduct reading/writing workshops with parents. I was blessed to be able to work with the Spanish speaking parents. Each time we began our Family Literacy Project called Family, Food and Story, we invited everyone to bring food to share. The food was off the charts good! I think I gained ten pounds each time we met! The parents took pride in representing their culture with the food that they prepared. There were pupusas,tamales, tortas, chicken mole, flautas, arroz con leche, flan, gorditas, enchiladas, baleadas, plantains and more. I was in heaven! We had parents represented from my different regions in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and other Latin American countries. The stories of hardship and resilience were nothing short of inspiring. It was my great pleasure to get to know the parents so well, as we shared our cultures, food, recipes and stories of where we are from and where we want to go. When I was in these meetings, I transported back to my time in Honduras as a Peace Corp Volunteer. In fact, there was a parent who thought she knew me from back then! It brought tears to my eyes.
Watching McFarland, brought me back to these roots, these memories of the rich Latino culture. It brought me back to Yoro, Yoro, Honduras where I would take the bus to the aldea (small town) and walk a mile to my site to work with teachers and students. It brought me back to the very generous and giving Hondurans. Once someone asked me, at the bus stop, if I would like a cup of coffee. I said yes and they brought me cup of coffee from their house to drink. It was not a styrofoam cup, but it was their best china. I couldn't believe that they would do that for me. Still another time, I needed a place to stay, while I was trying to figure out my living arrangements, as I was visiting my site for the first time. A humble lady brought me in her house and let me stay there for a few days. Once I was in their house, I was family. She didn't have much, but gave me a cot to sleep on and delicious Honduran frijoles(beans) and tortillas to eat daily. She introduced me to her family. I was treated as member of the family and protected as such. There are so many stories that I can tell about how wonderful the Honduran people are. Watching McFarland brought me back to this and how much I need to return to the classroom to work with my bilingual family!
I think it was a Godsend that was able to watch the movie, at this pivotal time in my life. While I went to the movie, thinking I would see Carlos Pratts star in this movie, I thought that this would be it. Instead, I gleaned so much more from watching it. I was brought back to my roots as a Peace Corps Volunteer, some 20 odd years ago, renewed and invigorated as bilingual educator and advocate, and steadfast in my decision to return to my heart, the classroom. Thanks to watching McFarland USA, my future dreams will be realized too. Uno, dos, tres McFarland!