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To Those of You Who Thought I’ve Spent Too Much Time in An Ivory Tower…

10 May 2007

…You were right.

Yesterday, I decided to sit and knit in a nearby park while Impera had her fiddle lesson. My favorite bench (the one in the shade) was already occupied, but there was plenty of room for me, too. The man already sitting there (I’d say he was in his late 50s) was accompanied by his two grandsons, who had a wonderful time playing on the equipment and wandering through the trees.

He was the chatty type, and he began with the expected, “So, what are you doing there, knitting?”

Then he promptly began talking about himself. This was fine with me, because I could then keep knitting, interspersing an “Oh?” and Wow!” at intervals.

He had led a very interesting life. He started as a band teacher, moved up into administration (in parochial schools, where they play fast and loose with teacher credentials). In 1987, he and his wife (also a teacher), answered a job ad for “someone with administrative and teaching experience, and open to adventure”—or some such teaser.

They spent the next ten years running a school in Peru. It was a K–8 school; after the kids graduated from eighth grade, the company (more on that in a bit) would pay for them to go to boarding school. The girls, he said, typically went to boarding school in France. He sent his two boys to a Benedictine boarding school for boys in Kansas.

The school, he told me, was paid for by a US copper mining company for the children of its executives.
Strike 1.*

His wife absolutely loved it there, he said. She taught in the school, and really enjoyed the fact that they had a housekeeper who cooked all the meals. “We could just say, ‘Rosario, we’re inviting 50 people for dinner on Friday—Cook it.’ And she would.” Oh, but that wasn’t all: “We also had a gardener, and he was our caddy when we’d play golf.”
Strike 2.

They traveled throughout Peru, and only had trouble once. On a school trip to northern Peru, the bank across the street from the hotel they were staying in exploded. Terrorists.** “You know, in Peru, they know how to deal with terrorists. They die ‘accidentally’ in prison … they ‘get lost’ in the jungle … they drown in the ocean … Not like here. We sure could learn a lot from the Peruvians.”***
Steeerike 3!

Oops! Just look at the time! I must make my escapebe off to pick up my daughter from her lesson. Glad I won’t ever see you againGoodbye!

*Copper mining is terribly destructive to the environment. Working for a copper mining company is sort of like working for Shell Oil Co. in Nigeria, or for Union Carbide in Bhopal. You get the picture?

**Shining Path.

***Note that I’m not implying I agree with Shining Path tactics. I just don’t think we should take the Peruvian military’s example as our own.

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