plagiarism, shmagiarism

19 Jun

Oooooh the hypocrisy of calling me fat and then shoving food in my face, or getting offended that I didn’t try your version of fried plátanos.  Unlike us in the United States, Dominicans do not take offense to getting called fat – it’s often taken as a compliment because it means that you get enough to eat.  You might not even be fat; maybe you just put on a few pounds, or are simply bloated.  But from what I can tell, there is no perfect medium – you’re either fat or skinny.  Here, if you’re skinny, you’re said to have AIDS…

Furthermore, Dominicans are all about nicknames, especially when they have to do with your personal appearance.  For example, there’s a cute little old man that lives down the street from me who’s called Senón.  In English, this would probably translate to ‘man boobs’.  Nicknames like these, though they may seem harsh, are not meant to hurt any feelings.  They simply call it like it is, which I guess I can appreciate, especially now that my skin is getting thicker in both the literal and figurative sense.

In other news, I survived my first English class!  On Monday, over 50 niños ages 7 to 14 showed up at the school to witness the americana in action.  Here, classroom behavior, teaching methods, and the education system in general are quite poor.  There are normally way too many kids crammed into one classroom.  Teachers expect the children to learn, retain, and understand the given material by copying it directly from the board.  Classroom and teaching materials are scarce.  Many people become teachers not for their love of the subject or for interacting with kids, but rather because they’re guaranteed a job.  When I decided to start this class, I promised myself that my teaching methods would not reflect what the kids might be used to.  I’m striving to create a fun, dynamic, and interesting class, not only so they can learn English, but also so that they have an alternative outlet for their energy and free time.  Over all, it went really well, though I think they were disappointed that I didn’t teach them the entire English language in their first class.  This afternoon I have my jóvenes class – let’s hope it goes just as well!

Having seen how poor the education system is here, I’ve realized how thankful I am for the schooling I’ve had the opportunity to receive.  Context: La Cabrita is currently enrolled in a class taught by an organization called INFOTEP, in which they’re writing manuscripts regarding supervision, delegation, responsibility, and how these relate to their association.  Sounds like it could be useful, right?  But how does one go about writing a 20+ paper when you’ve hardly been taught writing skills, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, or even spelling?  Well, you copy it all from the Internet of course!  Each member found various books or web pages, and copied the material word-for-word by hand so that they could then type it up and put it into their own paper.  Given that the members of La Cabrita don’t really own computers (they use the Internet on their phones), or know how to operate Word very efficiently, I took the liberty of typing up their papers for them.  My moral gears were grinding throughout this entire process; but, seeing how plagiarism laws don’t even exist here, for them, it was the obvious way of going about writing a paper.  Ultimately, the fact the INFOTEP assigned this workload was silly – they could have easily demonstrated their knowledge of the material in a different manner, because with this method, they learned nothing except how to copy and paste, and that Americans can type fast.

In short, I’m thankful for all the annotated bibliographies I was forced to write; for the writing workshops that seemed painful at the time; for the computer literacy classes that we started in elementary school; for libraries; for the principles that encourage and laws that protect an individual’s intellectual property; for educated, dedicated, and motivated teachers; and most importantly, for parents who make sure their kids go to school, do their homework, give 100%, and never stop learning.

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