When Sistema de Orquestas de Guatemala (SOG) arrived two weeks ago with a stack of registration forms for parents to complete in order for their kids to participate in an upcoming music camp, we politely offered to help with the process. A two page form with mystery questions like email address, date of birth, address, occupation, blood type of child, and insurance information would be a major turnoff. The forms would go straight to the cooking fire. Even our more modern teen students don’t know what an email is. (I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know the blood types of my children, but I’m going to find out this weekend.) About half of the parents know their address and dates of birth. It’s not like they are getting mail delivery. We told the kids that if they were interested in music camp to ask their moms to come to school and we would help with registration.
Some fathers did fill out the forms. They filled in the critical information – name of child, parents contact, phone number, government ID number, and signature – and left the rest blank. Mothers of our primary students came for help to fill out the forms; we would ask the questions, fill in what we could, and the mom would provide her thumbprint signature.
Our secondary students filled out the forms themselves and then had their moms thumbprint them. In a few years some of these secondary students will be moms and they will be able to fill out their children’s permission forms, read them books borrowed from the school library, and help them with their homework. It’s uplifting to see these real changes in education.
We now have 37 students learning how to read music in orchestra camp in Jocotenango and they seem to be really enjoying it. They will be showing off what they have learned at the end of camp. The plan is for them to perform in Jocotenango and El Hato, so both communities can easily attend.
The camp bus passes my neighborhood, so we have also been fortunate enough to be able to invite some neighborhood kids who don’t have much to do during the school break. It’s great seeing children from my favorite communities come together to learn music.