Monday, August 28, 2006

Uncontrolled chaos theory

Part of the job includes visiting schools all over the metro. Most of the schools that allow us to visit are usually private, catholic, and single sex. I won't go into any debate over my choice between co-ed or single sex, but the last 6 years of doing the job means I've seen some interesting set-ups. Dealing with students of a certain age also means getting used to a really high decibel level. As in, How the heck do they stand all this noise? level. I remember going to one of the better all girls' schools in Ortigas last year and feeling overwhelmed by the noise in their canteen. It was like a bunch of howling harpies attacking their prey, and being really pissed over the carnage. Noise over noise; not something I want to go through again.

Today, I had to pop in to set up a booth at one of the new international schools. Seems to me that there are a lot of pretenders to the throne of "international school" these days, not that it's a bad thing. I am an IS Manila alum, and I would (if I could afford it) send all my nieces and nephews there. The kind of people you meet and deal with and grow up with at an IS will develop great character. Or not. But most of the time, the people I grew up with turned out to be wonderful people and the other fellow IS students around the world all seem to be great examples of how forcing nationalities who would normally want to kill each other together in a learning environment fosters understanding and dialogue. Not to mention teaching one another what the difference between samosas and kimchi is at a young age. I wouldn't be the foodie I am now if I hadn't been to IS. Ah, all the bake sales of my youth...

Anyway, so there I was at this new international school, and I was interested to see their new digs. The directions given seemed pretty straightforward and I sort of knew where it was, but what they failed to mention was that by taking the overpass on C5, I'd end up missing the main entrance and would have to detour back to Ortigas Avenue and take the underpass; a detour of 20 minutes tacked on to the travel time. So, I was not in the best of moods by the time I dragged myself out of the cab with boxes of materials. Then I walked in. And wished to all that is holy that I could leave the boxes and walk out. It made me think of the one of the levels of Purgatory, care of the imagination of Dante Alighieri himself. Noise, people walking in and out, children running down pretty steep stairs, the tile bouncing the sound off the walls, and even the receptionist seemed pretty frazelled at 9 a.m. I managed to explain to her that I had to set up a booth, and asked to call the contact at the guidance office. After some time (too much), said contact made it to the reception area and walked me to the corridor where the booths were to be set up for display. Being next to the dining hall, I dodged sticky bits of paper (ketchup? mustard?) and hoped no one slips on a daily basis. I managed to pass out some materials for the next hour and a half, without making much of a dent in the noise. On Thursday I have to be back to talk to some of the students I passed out materials to. Am better prepared to deal with traffic, and will bring earplugs.

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