Friday, December 28, 2012

Allende Occupato

If there was one thing I need not have worried about, it was whether my comments in the classroom were too revolutionary. Instead of being afraid of indoctrinating my students into becoming little peace protestors, I should  have realized that that's what they already are.

Almost an entire week of classwork has been missed because students at Allende/Custodi decided to occupy the school. Students slept inside the school, funds were raised for food and other supplies, and the mayhem generally associated with an occupation process was set into motion. Why, you ask? Criticize the reasons as you may, but here is what I've garnered from my discussions with students:

  • against the lack of toilet paper in the bathrooms
  • against the increase of teaching hours for the same wage
  • against the money being unequally taken from public school education as opposed to private school funds-and just generally any money being taken at all, seeing as how there is already so little
  • for better/more consistent heating in the schools
  • more freedom in the school environment
  • the desire to be heard, have opinions acknowledged

Naturally every single class I've taught coming out of this protest has now in some way or other revolved around the Occupy Wall Street movement, as it serves as a recent example of an occupational movement in the U.S. However, now that I think about it, I could take it back to the sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement. There are so many reasons to occupy a space, and it's a fabulous concept that just by being in a certain place at a certain time you can send the message that something has to change, and that you are ready to make sacrifices in order to see that change happen. Glorious really.

I will say one thing. Though I'm really happy that the students gave me a standing ovation when they finally let the teachers into the school building (I shamelessly toot my own horn here. Yup.), they still had all of us secluded  into one room, Aula la Rosa, so that teachers would not be able to circulate and, in the words of the students, sabotage the occupation. Apparently two years ago when the students had attempted an occupation that is what happened. It would seem that the pattern repeated itself. Once teachers were free to roam, after an hour of judicious grumbling about being sequestered away in such a disrespectful manner, they talked the students out of continuing the protest.

While it was not perfectly organized (as if anything could be...) I applaud the students for doing something to try to change the sorry state of public school education in Italy. It makes me wonder what I did with myself during my high school years (gosh that phrase makes me feel old!).

Here are some pics.


This post serves in a way as a follow up to the post on Social Justice Education. I think it's safe to say I was struggling with some sort of existential issues in that one.

Life happens so strangely sometimes.
So, as I was thinking and thinking some more, I realized I was going through one of my life doses of disillusionment. What I was being disillusioned of I'm not quite sure. Maybe of my hope for humanity, my belief that not everyone is out there simply "to get mine". I think I was hoping to find an experience that was less individualistic than what I had in the United States.

Unfortunately, Italy's culture can be just as individualistic. However, the longer I've been here the more I notice how loving and giving so many people here are. Yes, there are some parts of living that suck. There always will be. Still, that's no reason to write the whole thing off.

So, the rose colored glasses are gone, but the harshness of their removal is tempered somewhat by a decision of the attitude to take toward life. I read somewhere that life is 10% what happens and 90% how you choose to react to it. So, it goes to follow that if I choose to maintain a positive outlook on things (admittedly sometimes very difficult to do) then I'll be just fine.

Yup. Just fine.