Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vuelo El Tiempo, or: Money Is Like Beer

Time flies.

This morning I imparted my last wisdom to my class of advanced English math students. We discussed the question: How do we measure wealth? This week we talked about PPP and GDP and inequality gaps and all the little tricks economists use to make sense of money in the world.

Today, we talked about wealth other than money. The environment, your health, your level of security, family, love, happiness: this, we decided, is really what wealth is. I finished with this tasteful analogy: Money is like beer. One beer will probably make you happy, two might also make you happy, but ten will make you terribly unhappy and probably ill. Up here on the mountain, we live at a one beer maximum, and we are incredibly happy.

This afternoon I met with my beginner English class. They performed hilarious skits about dining out in restaurants. We talked about how they had grown in the past three months. (We also practiced for their exam, not quite a poignant, but necessary.) These eleven beautiful, inspirational women, 17-24 years old, beamed when they talked about how much language they had learned. Yolani, who learns irregular verbs in her spare time, wrote a message on the board at break, reading “CAITLIN IS A VERY GOOD TEACHER FOREVER.” I beamed.

When class ended the girls didn’t move. Lenis, my youngest and most saintly student, had tears running down her cheeks. “Time flies!” I said, and they nodded. “I can’t believe it’s finished,” said Maholy, our resident vocalist with American Idol quality, though she reserves it mostly for Christian music. They said they don’t want me to go. I don’t want to go. To Karla, our resident powerhouse, I promised a visit within two years. She promised that if I didn’t, she was going to hunt me down in America. (And she would, with a crossbow if necessary. You should see her with a machete.)

So now I can enjoy my time with them until Wednesday, studying, making hundreds of tortillas, even helping out at a Christian Music Festival at our school on Saturday. Have I mentioned how Christian some of these girls are? Super Christian. Have I mentioned how much it matters to me? Not at all.

This is a magical place, and today is a magical day. There was a flash mob ballet-esque performance by the students after breakfast this morning. I feel at peace and incredibly competent. I don’t want to go, I need to go, but this is my home, and this is my family. I’ll probably be back to the land of eggs, beans and cheese before long.

Madelin, Vanessa, Lenis, Yolani, Maholy, Karla, Glenda, Andrea, Selina, Nidia and Lorena. Don't worry, Yolani doesn't smile on purpose. She is actually quite pleasant. 

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