Phrasal Verbs

Not what you think. Mexican Bakery Giant Owns, Entenmann’s Sara Lee, etc.

Extra points, dear readers, for any of you able to identify the grammatical term used in today’s instalment. If you require a hint, just ask any of half a dozen eager students in our Granitos class. Remember? The neighbourhood where taking out a phone can get you knifed? The one place in the world whose pavement is in worse shape than Montreal’s? Where not only are pharmaceuticals sold through locked bars, but ice cream is as well?

It turns out that ‘turns out’ is a perfect example.

Definition of phrasal verb:a phrase (such as take off or look down on) that combines a verb with a preposition or adverb or both and that functions as a verb whose meaning is different from the combined meanings of the individual words. Merriam-Webster.
The intermediate children with whom we are entrusted to drop a few bread crumbs along their path out of the woods of poverty anxiously participated in providing examples of phrasal verbs. From our perspective, each time a mental ka-ching goes off in our students’ brains, we feel we’ve hit the jackpot, again. In addition to providing the lowest rung of Cartagenian society with fundamental linguistic tools, I cannot help but answer to another imperative burning inside me. Against all odds, children at this center, who voluntarily attend English lessons during summer holidays, require cheerleading in addition to grammar lessons. I regularly work encouragement into the official syllabus. Time is spent looking into the minds of these kids; trying to find out their ambitions in life. For example, in our class (all of whom diligently prepared their homework lessons given to them the previous day; not a feat that I can claim ownership to) we have Daniel, a future astronaut, Jaynis, a translator, Eior, a businessman, Maria, a businesswoman, and Ever, a future soccer star. 

Annie, Marie, and Lori with students doing their Impression of a Reverse Oreo Cookie

Trying to encourage bonding, a story was woven by me whereby the two future tycoons would, as per their desires, make enough money to set up an educational foundation for the next generation. The Translator would convert the Spanish message to English to attract a broader audience. The sports star would have the same crest on his shirt as the astronaut; each one helping the other succeed. The literary legerdemain was not merely designed to entertain (which it did) but to foster a sense of community. Explaining the long odds facing the students, I expounded on the urgency of a network to offer skill and moral support to help each of them escape their environs. 

Colombia’s Future?

As a 
reward for completing their homework, the plan was to treat my students to an ice cream from the barrio’s equivalent to Pop’s Choklit Shoppe across what served as a road. Try buying six ice creams with another 20 or so kids from other classes looking on. So, the store owner had a windfall, the kids had a bit of glee, and us teachers has access to some sweet, internal coolant.

Yo Grito, tu Gritas, todos Gritamos por Helado

Today more students joined in. Amongst them a future apps developer and two engineers. While the likelihood of all of them attaining their goals may be considered somewhat of a longshot, the fact that the engineer and apps developer are already attending local university and that the Translator expects to enrol next year gives one enough pause to actually consider that a possibility exists of ultimate ambition attainment. 

One of today’s bright lights, Teresa, was new to class. She showed exceptional language skills and intellectual promise. I asked why I hadn’t seen her prior to today. She’d been busy the past week and a half helping her mother with her younger sisters. The mother was heartbroken that Teresa had to miss school, but there was no other option. Here’s hoping that one day, a way will be found to identify the most promising scholars and figure out how to fund their education. You may be hearing from me again on this matter at some point in the future. One of the most rewarding aspects of my conversations is that – to a person, each of our students intends to return to the scene of the crimes in order to offer a hand up to the next generation. If any of these occurrences occur, our jobs, time and effort will have been worth the ice cream investment.

OK, Fine; Altruism only goes so Far

No Comments
  • michael woloz
    Posted at 14:21h, 29 December Reply

    What a privilege for you and the kids. Good work

  • Bruce Burnett
    Posted at 15:54h, 29 December Reply

    You hit it on the nose, Mike. Classic win-win

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