imagine living in a country for your whole life without being aware of where it is in relationship to the rest of the world. maybe you have an idea of what continent you live on, but are not sure which countries border with yours. you know that a number of your family members and friends have moved abroad to make more money but you have no idea where they have moved to, even if you do know the names of the countries where they now reside.
this is what it was like for the boys (ages 12-18) at the treatment center where i work. after being asked if one can walk from new york to spain and if london is in new york, i knew that there were some holes in their knowledge of world geography. i brought in some maps for them to look at and was surprised to learn that no one could locate ecuador on the global map. when i pointed it out the them they were shocked to learn how small ecuador is compared to other countries. they became jealous of large countries like brazil and russia. they asked over and over about greenland.
the truth is, these boys do not need to be able to read a map or locate an african country in order to get through their daily lives in quito. many of them have never left the city let alone the country, so does it really matter if they never learned the names of the oceans or which countries share borders with india? is it important for them to know what a border is or how to read a compass?
they may not be necessary but i do think these skills are useful. one of the things i have tried to give the boys during my two years here is a window into the world outside of quito. many of them have family and friend in the united states and spain. most of them will encounter foreign tourists through their work. they all watch foreign movies and television programs. they do not go to school.
i hope the next time one of them receives a call from their mother in spain or their cousin in new jersey they will be able to picture where the caller is living. when a volunteer from denmark comes to work with them they will know she lives closer to belgians than canadians. when they watch a movie about new york they will think of diversity, expensive hamburgers, and me.
ps-thank you for all of your encouragement with the knitting! i think i will try and follow a pattern next and you know i'm going to run to all of you when i get lost! :)