Mary and Joe’s day at the Dom Manuel I secondary school was informative, interesting and frustrating.  Today was Greve Geral (National General Strike), and it affected the school day.
Workers around the country are protesting the economic impacts resulting from the Portuguese Government’s acceptance of the terms of the European Union’s bailout.  Workers are unhappy with their economic situation as compared to those of many politicians and upper level bureaucrats (99% vs.1%).  They say they are losing economic ground, and cannot afford to live.  They are paying higher taxes and prices for basic products, and working longer hours for less pay.
ln the morning we noticed the streets and school halls were quieter and emptier than usual.  Students were grouped outside the school, we assume, waiting to see if the school was going to be open.  (The teacher of our first class was 15 minutes late because she was waiting with her son at his school to see if he would have school today.  He did.)  At all of our daytime classes, our teachers were in the classroom because as one said: I can’t afford to stay home.  Our evening adult class was cancelled because that teacher was on strike.  (This was not a surprise to us because she is an active member of the opposition political party.)
The daily teaching experience was good as usual.  We not only taught the students in grades 7, 8 and 9 but also we learned from them and their teachers.  The students were more rowdy than earlier in the week because this was their last day of formal classes prior to the 2-week Easter Vacation.
On the way home from the afternoon class just a short distance from the team hotel, a protest rally was underway.  There were speeches, singing and flag waving; none of which we really understood in detail, but could use our imaginations as to content.  We also had a short chat with one of our night students who worked 27 years at the prison, who was attending the rally.
Arlene and Reba had an abbreviated day at Santa Maria school because of evaluations and one strike related cancelled class.  Bobbie, Diane and Paul had a normal work day at the Polytechnic Institute with little student strike related discussion.
After the daily evening meeting the team went to an Italian restaurant for a fulfilling dinner.
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