This morning when I got to work the gatekeeper asked me for a favor. His name is Alejandro and he lives in the nearby rancho named San Antonio El Chico which we affectionately call San Antonito. He said that his daughter was involved in a school project and asked me if I wouldn't mind being interviewed by her for her English class. He said that it would only take a few minutes and she could come by late in the afternoon. I waved my hand and said "Sure Ali, let her come. I don't mind at all". I then promptly forgot about it until about 3:pm when he called me from the guard shack and told me that his daughter had arrived. I said, "Okay, send her on up to my office". He said, "No, Señor Bob, you better come out here". When I got outside I realized right away why he didn't send her in. She was there with seven of her giggling friends all in their nice neat school uniforms with a patch identifying the school as CBTIS-65. The letters CBTIS stand for "Centro de Bachillerato Tecnologico Industrial y de Servicios". There are about 800 of these high schools in Mexico where they are trying to upgrade the normal high school curriculum to prepare students for semi-professional and technical jobs. These girls are studying English and they had an assignment to interview a native English speaker.
At first I was afraid that I had gotten myself into more problems than I wanted to deal with but the girls were very nice and very serious. They were well prepared with their questions written out in English and they wanted to interview me in two teams. They were all about 14 or 15 years old. I agreed and led them over to an area where I hold my regular employee training sessions and we began. I stood with three girls at a time while the others filmed the sessions with their cheap little digital cameras that had limited video capability. They took turns filming and later on they would piece all of their videos together to create the complete interview. It was very touching to see them try to do this and they were really in earnest about it. The girls all introduced themselves to the camera and then introduced me and then started asking questions. They were simple questions mostly like where did I come from, and how long have I lived in Mexico, and what are the duties of my job, etc. They even asked me if there is any favorite food that I miss. I told them "Yes there is. I really miss Polish style Kosher dill pickles" and they all had a good laugh. I guess they thought I was joking. Actually they did the interviews very well and I am very proud of all of them.
Afterward one of the girls asked me if I had any personal advice for them and I said yes and I told them the story about the pig in the python. I told them that after World War II there were four million United States soldiers who came home from the armed forces and got married and had children...lot's of children. Then more soldiers came back from the Korean War and did the same thing. All of these children entered the American population as a group and as they grew up through the years they swelled the system wherever they passed through it it just like a pig swells the body of a big python snake as it travels from the snake's head to its stomach. I told them that there were seventy-six million of these children born between 1946 and 1964 and they are starting to reach retirement age. As they retire and age further they are going to stretch the need for nursing and medical technical services to the breaking point. I said that there would be some very good opportunities for young women who go into nursing or medical technical fields who also had the ability to speak excellent English. They would find opportunities in Mexico as well as the United States if they become well qualified people. I told them that for a young woman in Mexico who would like to be free and independent this is the perfect time to be a young student and if they apply themselves diligently now, then in only a few short years they could be on their own and making a nice living.
Needless to say they hung on every word and became very excited about this. They all pointed to one girl who had already made this her goal and I could see that the rest of them were already making mental calculations. I hope that in some small way I may have motivated some of them to dig in and fight for a better life. In the meantime I told them that I would be happy to help them in whatever way that I can and if their teacher would like me to go to their school to help the students with English now and then I would be happy to do so. The whole thing ended on a very high note and they presented me with a nice box of chocolates which I tried not to accept but they insisted. To tell you the truth I really had a good time. Perhaps someday when you are sitting in a nursing home nodding off to Oprah Winfrey reruns, one of my girls will come by and say, "Okay Doña Anciana or Don Anciano, it's time to take your medicine". Just remember to ask them if they had ever heard of Señor Bob.
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