Mr. Kay's Blog

The day to day happenings of a 6th grade classroom teacher

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Archive for the ‘mexico’ Category

(white light) Tuesday

Posted by willkay on December 7, 2010

In her blog, Miss Lilian wrote about birthdays and how she celebrated them when she was a little girl. When I was a younger person (many, many years ago) I didn’t particularly celebrate my birthday. This was mainly because I was away at boarding school. So, I would get a birthday card from my parents, sometimes with money in it. And that was that. As I got older I still didn’t celebrate my birthday, it just wasn’t the done thing. At work you would have to take in a cake for all your colleagues, which always seemed weird to me – shouldn’t they be getting me a cake? Anyway, birthdays, not a major moment for celebration in my life. And then I move to Mexico. I guess birthdays actually mean something here?

Tomorrow is maria’s birthday, which of course (as part of my becoming Mexican) I will be celebrating. How will I be celebrating? Well, as a lead up to tomorrow, to make sure that there is no washing up left over from tonight’s meal, I am taking maria out for a meal. Now! In other words: you get a reduced blog post. Make of it what you will.

  • my cup, a gift from Shai, was broken
  • yesterday was awful. It was necessary to underline the classroom rules.
  • in underlining the rules some students thought my classroom was a democracy. It isn’t. It’s a dictatorship. I might be a benevolent dictator, but I have learnt that classrooms tend to operate better if one person is in control and his/her word is law.
  • white light isn’t white, it is made up of 7 different colours.
  • Roy G. Biv
  • Geography exams returned. Several scores of 10. Two scores of 9.9 – people actually chose not to do the question?
  • surface area of rectangular prisms. A lot easier than it looked.
  • homework checked. How bad was yesterday? Two people didn’t do the homework. Most people didn’t do the homework correctly.
  • Spanish lesson – students got moved because they are talking too much.
  • Geography was all about the Physical Map of Russia.
  • Secret Friends.
  • home time. It is important to note that the half hour between 2:30 and 3:00 is still school time and the rules are still in place.

Russian Word of the Day. Taiga. It means “land of little sticks“. 

Homework:

  • Maths: Reteaching 8-8 No:4  and Practice 8-8 Nos: 1-4
  • Writing Assignment: An Alien (for Friday)
  • Reading: you should be reading for 20 mins every night.

 

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Posted in english, geography, maths, mexico, stuff | 1 Comment »

(mrs gren) Thursday

Posted by willkay on September 2, 2010

Gotta lurve the sixth grade. Today is day four of a new academic year. This morning, as it does every morning, the bell rang for line up. When the second bell rang, the sixth grade were stood in silence, lines perfectly straight, distance apart checked. They were ready! I didn’t have to say a word, no numbers were called. The sixth grade are ready for the day. How ready? Well, later in the day I was to discover that all homework notebooks were already on my desk, signed.

Today I managed to take a video of the morning’s exercise regime. I will load this up onto youtube and then link to it. It will, however, take sometime to appear, as it’ll take over two hours to upload.

After morning line up, it was into the classroom and on with maths. Except it wasn’t. If you have checked your school calendar, you will have noticed that the sixth grade are presenting the assembly on September 13th. With the Bicentennial celebration of Mexico’s Independence on September 15/16th, it suddenly becomes obvious what subject the sixth grade will be covering in their assembly. However, in case you haven’t noticed, I am English. Therefore my knowledge of Mexico’s history might not be up to scratch. So, the first thirty minutes of the day were spent discovering how much the students knew about the events. Let’s just say, by the end of the thirty minutes, we all knew a lot more!

Maths was multiplication of decimals. One of the joys of teaching is that often (and you really hope it is often) you get what I call “light bulb” moments. That moment when it is almost as if a light bulb appears above a student’s head, flashes on, and everything is understood. The lesson was littered with those moments, when suddenly, instead of being a mathematician I felt more like a magician, as questions became easier and easier.

It is possible to divide the world into two distinct groups – with no cross-over. Everything in the world can be sorted into either living or non-living. However, there has to be a set of qualities that defines the difference between living and non-living: a car needs food; a mountain grows. Eventually we settled on a set of seven qualities that all living things possess, and they must possess all seven. The way to remember these qualities? Mrs. Gren. Not sure you know what Mrs. Gren stands for? Ask a sixth grader…but don’t be surprised if, whilst informing you, they end up giving you TMI. At some point the students managed to fit in a Computer lesson with Professor Mauricio, and Professor Humberto managed to hard wire in the internet to my classroom. Yes, I have the internet in my classroom! This year just gets better and better.

After recess it was Spanish and History, followed by another science lesson. This time we discussed adaptation.

Homework:

  • Writing Assignment: My Holiday (due in tomorrow)
  • Maths: Reteaching 1-3 Nos: 1 – 5, 10

Don’t forget tomorrow is the first yoga class!!!!

Posted in history, maths, mexico, morning line up, science | 2 Comments »

(beating the french) Thursday

Posted by willkay on June 17, 2010

The day started a little earlier than usual. The very thoughtful, generous, and kind Miss Tere B (which is how she calls herself when she comments on here, although I still call her Miss Marcela at work) had offered to lend me the sixth grade a television for the World Cup. She’d mentioned that it was a spare television that wouldn’t fit on her bookshelf. In my mind (in my mind), I had this vision of a small tele, that we would nip round to her house, throw on the back seat of the truck, and take it into school. It turned out to be a monster. HUGE. After maria and I had struggled to put it into the back of the truck (it took up the whole of the back of the truck), it was left to Professor Rene (thank you) and I to haul it into my classroom. The sixth grade were now ready to watch Mexico v France. [On a side note: I am now ready to watch England v Algeria tomorrow! What? You won’t be in school tomorrow? I will!]

Spent a couple of hours painting – but as that is supposed to be a surprise, I won’t say anything else about it..except, I did my best.

There was going to be an early recess, so we had time to go through one more exercise in the spelling workbook. And then it was time for the Social Studies Bee. Not the most successful of starts to a competition, the first eleven questions were answered incorrectly. This meant that a knowledge of Lenin/Stalin ended in first place. It then came down to a fight for second place. Six questions later, and it was all decided:

1st – Ivan

2nd – Shai

3rd – Camila

Congratulations to all three. That now means Ivan has won two out of two, and is still on target for a clean sweep. Will Valerio or Guillermo be able to stop his progress in the maths bee? We have yet to find out.

Recess was cut short, because we all wanted to watch the national anthems. And then it was onto the match: Mexico v France. “The Battle of Puebla II”. If you don’t know the result…then I am not telling you!

No school tomorrow. The Final Presentation on Monday.

Something New: Miss Tere Be said she would lend me a small tele.

Favourite Moment Of The Day (FMOTD): If you do something nice, then you get back something nice.

Would it be daft to suggest that Mexico won because of Carlo Ivan? Professor Israel didn’t have a television. He asked if he could come watch the one in our classroom, with the 2nd grade. I said I would ask the sixth grade. At first, the majority of the class were against the idea, but Carlo Ivan wasn’t. He argued that “it was the right thing” to let the second grade into the classroom. It was wonderful to watch/listen to, as he argued and finally convinced his classmates to let the second grade in.

Posted in mexico, spelling, world cup | 5 Comments »

(it’s not my birthday) Thursday

Posted by willkay on May 13, 2010

Who would have thought it? Thirty years ago I made decisions that led to be becoming a teacher. I had never thought of teaching as a profession, however, due to circumstances in my life, I ended up sat in the Vatican, ice cream in one hand, glass of wine in another, being offered a job teaching in a seminary in Kenya. I said yes. I never got to Kenya – long story, involves Idi Amin, which is never good – and instead ended up in Ware (where? Ware, in Hertfordshire) teaching eight year olds instead of trainee priests. From there I went to London University and studied education, maths, and sociology, qualifying with an honours degree. And, long story short, ended up teaching at a school in Mexico. The ironic thing in all this (if you don’t understand the word ironic, don’t ask Valerio because that would be ironic) is that my birthday, 15th May, is Teacher’s Day. Now, Mexico, as I have come to understand, is the country that really celebrates people’s birthdays. Up until moving here, birthdays were something to be ignored, or apologised for having. Definitely not something to shout about. So, I move to a country that celebrates my birthday, and celebrates my profession. Except they are both on the same day! The school has come up with a foolproof system! Celebrate my birthday on a different day! This year, as Teacher’s Day falls on a Saturday. the school is celebrating teachers on Friday. Which means, I get Thursday! Suddenly I feel like the Queen. I have two birthdays, my official birthday and my real birthday. Today, according to the school calendar, it is my official birthday. This means that at morning line up the school sang Happy Birthday in my honour. And Larizza gave me a hug!

Maths was more logic problems. Rather than using a logic table to solve these problems, this time it needed a full understanding of the work we had covered, and how to apply what we had learnt. It was interesting to see which pupils enjoyed the lesson, and which students were asking if they could do something else, the lesson was too hard!

After recess, in geography, we finished naming the countries that make up South Asia, and talked about some of the geographical features. Of course, we talked about Mount Everest, which was very relevant at the moment, and the rivers Indus and Ganges. We then moved onto Reading Street and finished the story.

At the end of the day, as we were all going home, I spotted a bird of prey eating its victim on top of the hill behind the school. One of the (many) wonders of moving to Mexico is the different wildlife I get to see. For example, I had never seen a humming bird in real life before. Now, I see them quite often. However, it is still a sight that makes me stop and stare. Same with lizards. I am pretty sure that there are birds of prey in England. In fact I have seen them – I once came across an owl, sat on a fence, that made me jump. However, I don’t remember seeing this many, this often.

Something New: No matter what the calendar says, it is NOT my birthday.

Favourite Moment Of The Day (FMOTD): Glor-or-or-or-or-or, or-or-or-or-or,or-or-or-or, ria. Hosanna in excelsis.

My dad was a brilliant, wonderful man, in so many, many different ways. He was also very singular in his likes and dislikes. He disliked religion but loved Christmas. He loved Christmas carols as well. As a child, my mother would take us (the children) to midnight mass at Christmas. My dad would come too. He wouldn’t come into church with us but would hang around outside, avoiding all the “religious mumbo-jumbo” that he didn’t like. However, he would come in to the back of the church and join in with the singing, when the carols started. My mum used to sit us up near the front (first or second pew), but we could hear my dad singing in the background. I love my dad, and it is always brilliant when I get to share a story about him with the class.

Attendance: All present

Homework:

  • Maths: Worksheet
  • Assembly: Learn the words to the song!
  • Reading Log
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.

Posted in english, geography, maths, mexico, morning line up, stuff, youtube | 5 Comments »

(happy day) Wednesday

Posted by willkay on May 12, 2010

All the homework diaries signed! All homeworks done! All students present! Great start to the morning – although the rhythm was a bit off with the marching, at morning line up. How off? It was one of those moments that I wished I had a camera with me at all times. Larizza’s face popped out of the two straight lines, and she had such a look of concern over the non-rhythmic marching, it was wonderful.

We started the day off by singing a song, we have assembly in 19 days, and need to get it right. Then onto maths and checking the homework. I was right yesterday, everyone understood Stem-and-Leaf Plots. Hurrah! And then onto, possibly, my favourite topic – Logic Tables. I love logic problems, really enjoy solving them. Of course, this could lead to problems in the teaching. Yesterday, we had a discussion, while waiting to go home, that started with Maradonna and went on to the conclusion that, often great footballers don’t make the best managers. Someone then added that, maybe, the best mathematicians don’t make the best maths teachers? (I said it!) This could be true in some circumstances, I know some excellent mathematicians who are awful teachers. Their most comment statement is: but that’s how it works in my head. And it is true, I do maths in a totally different way to how I teach it. Maths works differently in my head. Fortunately though, I have a good understanding of how maths works in other people’s heads, which makes me a teacher. However, then there are Logic Tables. Logic is something that is almost impossible to teach. You can give the students the tools, show them how to use the table, but in the long run, if they don’t get it, they don’t get it. The good news: They got it!

Science started with a youtube video. Drop a hammer and a feather from the same height, which hits the ground first?

Then onto Newton’s Second and Third Laws of Motion. I will assume that this is where most student’s FMOTD occurred. It appears that my jumping up, by jumping up not pushing down, was funny enough to reduce several members of the class to tears, tears of laughter. Mind you, it seemed to be the day for finding things that Mr. Kay does amusing. My picture of a thin dog and a fat dog was one point of amusement for the students, my reminiscing about exploding a golf ball in my bedroom (as a young child) cheered me up – until I remembered the story about the vase…but I won’t repeat it here. Once we fully understood, To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, we settled down and watched an episode of MythBusters. This episode busted the myth that two cars, each travelling at 50mph, hitting head on, would have a combined force equal to one car hitting a wall at 100mph. Busted! To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, although the speed of the collision was doubled, so was the mass, thus the force stayed the same! Physics in action. In this case, driving cars at a wall at 100mph! Thanks for the heads-up about the programme Scarlatte.

Geography was a quick introduction to South Asia, mainly India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Good Great news. Mexico play England in a warm up game, before the World Cup, on May 24th. Miss Monica has let me watch the match. Oh, why is this good news? Because I get to watch the match in school with the kids! Hurray!

Something New: The UK has a new Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Favourite Moment Of The Day (FMOTD): When the socks flew off, people clapped.

There were two story lines in the episode of MythBusters we watched today. The second myth they were trying to bust was whether you could actually knock someone out of their socks with one punch. They couldn’t. Not with a punch. However, when they drove a truck at a dummy, at 65 mph, hitting the dummy in the stomach with a steel girder, the socks flew off, up into the air. This was such an achievement that students applauded.

Attendance: All present

Homework:

  • Maths: Reteaching 11-4 Nos: 1 Practice 11-4 Nos: 1
  • Assembly: Learn the words to the song!
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.

Posted in geography, maths, mexico, science, youtube | 4 Comments »

(day in the life) Thursday

Posted by willkay on April 15, 2010

6:20am: CD alarm goes off. Snow Patrol gentle wake me up. So gentle that I start to drift back to slee….

6:25am: Mobile Phone alarm goes off. Blur – Song2. Try to sleep through that!

6:30am: Struggle out of bed and start the day.

6:55am: Ready for school. Time to sit down and check my email.

7:10am: Late leaving the flat.

7:25am: Arrive at school. Talk to Miss Claudia about Valerio.

7:30am: Bell rings. Kids start to come in. Valerio is amongst them. Obviously decided against the 5 weeks off school option. Have to tell off the 2nd grade for going in and out of their classroom. First time this week I don’t have to remind the boys to speak English. Listen to Larizza practise her presentation for computer class.

7:50am: Line up. Erika is absent. Everyone silent when the second bell rings. Success! When it comes to marching, Valerio is a bit worried that he can’t “check his distance” because his right arm is in a sling. I point out that he never “checks his distance” anyway! The marching, from the boys, is poor. But I’ve got a long day ahead of me and I don’t want to start off the day being grumpy. I ignore it. We move from the playground to line up for computing class.

8:00am: Everyone has their flash drives. Everyone has their presentation. We wait for the school to finish emptying off the playground and set off for the computer lab. I leave the students in the capable hands of Professor Mauricio, and head back to my classroom. Check all the homework diaries – all of them signed! Double success! Mark books. Make a note to check how some students did in their maths homework – need to check understanding after having marked their books.

9:00am: Go pick up students from computer room. Monica, Paulina R., and Ana Elena are complaining because there was no internet. This meant that the computers were “useless”. I enquired if they did their presentations. All agreed that they hadn’t except for Shai. Shai had done his. There then followed one of those daft back-and-forth conversations between Shai and the rest of the class. It appeared that Shai had done his presentation, just not presented it. Which is what he meant. Left the students in the classroom to do Spanish, and went to the staff room to use the internet to prepare for this afternoon’s science lesson. Except there was no internet! Started work on lesson planner for May.

10:00am: Started lesson off by talking through last night’s activity on the blogs. Need to make sure that posts actually contain writing. Emphasised the fact that posts need to have more than just links to music. There must be a reason why I should go listen to this song – what does it mean to you! Checked the homework. Two students had done homework…but the wrong homework. Everyone seems to have the hang of Translation, time to move on to Reflection and Lines of Symmetry. Hope everyone went home tonight and checked their nostrils! After explaining what a line of symmetry was we then drew the letters of the alphabet in our maths notebooks, and then added in lines of symmetry. Long conversation about how many letters in the alphabet. This is sixth grade and yet they still had an argument over whether there was 25/26/27 letters in alphabet. Gotta lurve teaching! Went through the rules for tomorrow’s Spelling Bee with Andrea. There are moments she seems supremely cool and I am convinced that she will be totally unstoppable, winning the whole competition outright. Then there are those odd moments when she suddenly goes “wobbly”. Either way, she has worked incredibly hard on her spellings, and whatever the outcome, she is to be applauded for the work she has put in, and the seriousness that she has shown in rising to this challenge.

11:30am: Recess. I actually threw an American football today – badly. It has been ages since I threw an American football and I was totally off in my judgement! Not cool. Andrea spent recess being quizzed by friends on her spellings. The sixth grade boys played touch American football against the fifth grade. This was a nice moment. It is good to see them opening out and being more accepting. As the year has progressed it has been nice to watch the sixth grade come together more as a group. The divide between the boys and girls isn’t so big, and now sixth grade boys playing this fifth graders (and a couple of fourth graders), who’d have thought it!

12:00pm: Science lesson. Discussed solar eclipses and lunar eclipses. There was a five minute window when the internet was back on and I found this site. The next solar eclipse that will be visible in Mexico is on 8th April, 2024. This site has a brilliant video on it that shows the trajectory of the eclipse as it crosses Mexico (click here to view). Some how, we ended up in a discussion about 2012. FACT: the world is NOT going to end in 2012. This is a myth, based on a calendar, of a group of people who had a totally random counting system, and who’s world ended already! I am a mathematician. I am a scientist. And, I am a realist. The world will not end in 2012! [If it does you have my permission to find me and sing the song. You know the song? “I’m right, you’re wrong! That is why I sing this song!“]

1:05pm: Geography lesson. Facts about Egypt. Also had to clarify a whole “do elephants have knees” question. Except I couldn’t. Elephants don’t have knees, they have elbows??? Decided to take the best option available to a teacher: I dunno, find out for yourself! Ended up explaining the best way to oppress a citizenship: keep them working; keep them uneducated; introduce a religion. Worry that I might be creating a group of potential dictators or rebels.

1:50pm: End of days. Some of the boys leave for a football match. Eventually all the students are picked up. I get to go sign my timesheet – which means I get paid!!!

2;30pm: Leave school and am picked up by maria. We go to Soriana to spend my money. We get home. I check my email. Start organising what I am going to cook tonight for our meal.Will probably do: ground beef, onions, peas, all in a special gravy that is based on red wine/garlic/Marmite. Spend some time just chillin’ out.

4:30pm: Start checking the students’ blogs. Start writing my blog. Realise that I haven’t got a picture to put on my blog. Wanted to take a picture of Valerio and Camila but, as the day got busier and busier, didn’t get round to taking it. Oops.

Something New: Camila – One. Valerio – Two. If bad things come in threes…who is next?

Favourite Moment Of The Day (FMOTD): What? We won’t have a blog?

The question got asked: Will I still be writing a blog next (academic) year? I answered in the affirmative. However, I pointed out, I wouldn’t be running KidBlog for the present sixth grade anymore. People seemed upset about this…..

Attendance: One absent

Signed Homework Notebooks: 21 out of 21.

Homework:

  • Maths: Reteaching 10-7 Nos: 1-3  Practice 10-7  Nos: 7-10
  • Story: Two blog entries (minimum) this week
  • Reading Log: Needs to be in tomorrow so we can count the numbers.
  • Reading: This is not an option. You should be reading 20 minutes every night.

Posted in geography, maths, mexico, morning line up, reading log, science, spelling, student blog | 1 Comment »

(playas) Saturday

Posted by willkay on April 11, 2010

We went to Playas on Saturday morning, for a walk on the beach. It is always something I enjoy, I like watching the ocean, and the waves are better than waves in England. In England the beaches on the east coast, where I spent a lot of time holidaying, are much flatter. When the tide goes it, it reveals a huge area of sand. If you go paddling in the water, you can often walk quite far out to sea. This is not so on the Pacific coast. The beach drops off very quickly and this means that you get very big waves.

Of course, the other thing that fascinates me at Playas is the border. I find it fascinating that an arbitrary line can exist, drawn out into the ocean. There have been some changes made to the border fence at Playas. From the Mexican side it looks like:

The American side has also been changed. They have moved the fence back about 15 metres. This gives a clear space between the two fences. However, it has caused a slight problem. There is a small garden on the Mexican side, and there was a small garden on the American side. These gardens were made three years ago by school children. When the Americans moved the fence back, they dug up the garden on their side.  This was a strange thing to do as the plants chosen for the garden were indigenous, which meant that they wouldn’t need watering. This means that there is only a garden left on the Mexican side. However, that may not be for long. If you have been to Playas recently you will know that they are building all along the beachside, and upgrading the whole area. The teacher who helped plant the garden is worried that it will be dug up. This would be a shame. If they do decide to dig up the garden he is planning a “sit in“. I hope it doesn’t get that far.

Posted in holiday post, mexico, youtube | Leave a Comment »

(no school) Monday

Posted by willkay on March 15, 2010

Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.

“Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.”

In England we don’t really celebrate birthdays. Oh, we do but when compared to how Mexicans celebrate birthdays it is a lot easier to say, we don’t really celebrate birthdays. The Queen has two birthdays. She has an official birthday and her real birthday. I know this as a fact, I can’t tell you when her birthday is (either of them). The only historical person, who’s birthday I actually know, is William Shakespeare’s. This is because he had the misfortune to die on the same date as he was born, 23rd April. I know this because England’s greatest playwright died on St. George’s Day, the patron saint of England. Which makes 23rd April an auspicious date indeed. It is not a day off school, a day off work, a day off anything. It is just a date on the calendar.

21st March 1865, it was Benito Juarez’s 59th birthday. However, there was a war on, he was fighting the French. At the time he was in Chihuahua and the people around him wanted to throw him a party. He refused, insisting that they had no money for parties. In four hours the Liberal Women of Chihuahua gathered enough money for a banquet, which started promptly at six. One hundred and forty five years ago, the people around Benito Juarez really, really wanted to celebrate his birthday. This is something that still holds true today, 138 years after his death. Here, in Mexico, Benito Juarez’s birthday is a National Holiday, a day off work, a day of celebration. To make it a better day of celebration, to underline the event, it is not always celebrated on the actual date. For example, this year the 21st would be a Friday, a perfect day to have off school, but what could make it better is having the Monday off instead. Everyone hates Mondays, everyone likes Fridays. This way everyone gets to like a Monday, thanks to Benito Juarez.

So what makes Benito Juarez so special? He served five terms as President of Mexico, which would be really enough to grant him special licence to celebrate his birthday. However, before he served as President he was Chief Justice of Mexico. It was during this time that he passed  the Ley Juárez (Juárez’s Law) which abolished special clerical and military privileges, and declared all citizens equal before the law. This meant that when he became President he was the first Mexican President who did not have a military background. During his five terms Mexico was invaded by the French, who installed Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico. Juarez continued as President-on-the-move, taking the national documents with him. He kept moving north, avoiding capture, whilst the army fought, and finally overthrew the invaders. Under Juarez’s Presidency the rights of the common Mexican were improved. The church and state became separate. A more liberal form of government came into practice. All of these actions would be enough to make Benito Juarez one of Mexico’s greatest and most beloved leaders.

Except there is more. Benito Juarez was a Zapotec Amerindian, which made him the first full blooded indigenous national ever to serve as President of Mexico. More to the point, as the USA celebrate the fact that they voted Barack Obama in as the first black President of their country, it is important to note that Benito Juarez was President 158 years earlier. Do you want more? Until that age of 12 he worked as a shepherd in the fields. He was illiterate (he couldn’t read) and he couldn’t even speak Spanish! His only language was  Zapotec. He then left the fields to go work as a domestic servant in a house where his sister was the cook. A visitor to the house was so impressed by Juarez’s thirst for knowledge that he arranged for him to attend a school. Benito Juarez went on to become a lawyer, and to marry the daughter of the owner of the house.

Benito Juarez was a man who started with nothing but went on to become the President of Mexico. Along the way he managed, by example and by actions, to show that all people, no matter what their backgrounds, were equal. Anyone could become President.

Happy Birthday Benito.

Posted in history, mexico, stuff | Leave a Comment »

 
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