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playing poker and teaching science: Home Sweet Home
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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle school science teacher, wrestling coach, poker player, scuba diver, aikido black belt, amateur writer, and student of life. In the past I have tried to give back a little by volunteering at a children's home in Belmopan, Belize, Central America. I also love Frosted Flakes. I have taken a year sabbatical from my teaching position in order to sail the Caribbean. Does that sound crazy to you?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Home Sweet Home

It’s nice to be home.

The Central American country of Belize is a beautiful place to visit, and the work at The King’s Children Home is so very rewarding on a number of levels, but living in the third-world for almost a month does take some getting used to.

Along the coast of Belize there is a ever-blowing wing that bravely confronts the humidity and keeps it at an underwelming level. In the capital city of Belmopan however, there is no coast. One does not simply breath the air, but rather wears it like a winter coat made of the thick fur of the exotic perpetually perspiring Panamanian puma. While standing in the shade of the KCH bus one day, I stuck my hand out into the sunlight. It felt like I stuck it into an oven.

It’s hot. Africa hot.

There was also a story I shall not share of getting stung on the ass by a scorpion.

KCH graduated four students from Standard Six, the U.S. equivalent of the eighth grade, this year. They will all advance to high school. Some Belizian children are not as lucky. The Belizian system of education is a little different from what we enjoy, and what is so under-appreciated, by students in The States.

I Belize, when you finish Standard Six you take the PSE, a national exam. If you do not pass the PSE, you are DONE with public education. You do not go to high school. You do not go to college. You enter the work force at 14 years of age. You MAY have the option of going to a trade school to be training to work a trade, such as a laborer at one of the country’s large chicken farms.

Also, there’s no free education. You pay tuition every year. You supply your own books. You supply your own required uniform.

Take a minute today to slap a couple American children in the head and let them know how good they have it in the good old U S of A.

*Please don’t really slap a kid*

At the King’s Home (http://www.kingschildrenshome.org/) Leonie raises all the money for her 50 children’s books and tuition and sews their uniforms herself.

Okay…. A few kids I know could stand to be slapped.

Last year I discovered that the children had never had either chocolate chip cookies or blueberry muffins. Those sad truths were quickly laid a sunder as Betty Crocker and I worked our culinary magic. I can now join the small group whose claim to fame is the ability to make bread, cookies, and muffins for more than 60 individuals.

I can also shower from a bucket.

It’s nice to be home.


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