Sunday, August 31, 2008

All work and no play...

Today a few of the volunteers and myself went about an hour and a half north to the beach at Tela. Between the cab driver dropping us off at the wrong place, the inaccuracy of the Lonely Planet address for the bus stop, and my Spanish being the best of the three of us, it was a small adventure just to get a bus ticket. But we eventually got one, and it was a great chance to get out of the city and get some sun. There's nothing like sitting on the beach watching the waves come in to gear up for another week of junior high craziness.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Recurring Characters

I suspect that Paco is going to be one of them. Tuesday he was looking up the word “variable” in his science textbook glossary but was soon reciting the definition to the word next to it: vagina. He asks me, “How do you say in English?” so I tell him. My thought has always been that if I don’t make a big deal out of it, neither will they. I’m usually wrong.

He became fascinated with the word, repeating it over and over like a toddler who learns to make a new sound. The problem is that for some crazy reason, between his accent and the expression on his face, it makes me laugh. Yesterday, if there was a quiet moment in class, he’d just say “vagina,” and everybody would start laughing. He was absent today, and I kind of missed the little guy.

By the way, those appliances they put on showerheads in places like these so you can shower with warm water, the kind I just yesterday got installed in my shower to replace the broken one that was here when I came, may just be the greatest invention in the history of great inventions. Just saying.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School

The 7th graders are enthusiastic, funny, and talkative. When I asked where two boys were, I was told they were in the bathroom “going #3.” When I made a questioning face, Juan explained as if it were obvious, “You know… There’s #1 and #2 and then #3: diarrhea.” I then explained the phrase, “Too much information.”

At the beginning of class many kept talking while I was explaining something, so I got stern and reminded them how important it is to listen and follow directions. Tamara raised her hand to ask, genuinely it seemed, “Why are you so strict? Are we ever going to have fun?” I explained that yes, we would have fun, but that the most important thing is to learn and I take school and education very seriously. Paco then raised his hand. When I called on him, he just said, “You scare me.”

My 8th grade class is only four boys. Three were there today, and they are adorable and very smart. They interrupt each other a lot because they’re so excited to participate and make me laugh. I was doing an introductory writing activity which ending with them writing anything else about themselves that they wanted. My favorite response was, “I like the sports, and the girls.”

And the ninth graders? Well, I have my work cut out for me, but I’m not terribly worried. I wanted to tell them, “Listen niƱos. I’ve seen much worse.” They’ll come around eventually. Overall, it just felt good to be back in the classroom and start figuring things out in the school system here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Things I Don't Understand

I’ve been here almost a week now, but it feels much longer than that, in a good way. Almost everything is different than home and I hardly know anyone. The heat means I am sweaty and smelly much of the time. My hot shower doesn’t work yet, and there are tiny ants everywhere in the kitchen and sometimes my room. Most of the time when I try to speak Spanish, I’m faced with raised eyebrows and a generally confused look. The other day I had a conversation with Carlos, the phy. ed. teacher, that I thought was about peanut butter but later I realized he was talking about wearing shorts. I have almost none of the teaching resources I had in the States and right now I am actually scheduled to be teaching two classes at the same time for one hour on Friday afternoons. I admit I’ve been in some unusual teaching situations, but I’m not quite sure how that one’s going to happen.

And yet, for a reason I can’t quite explain, none of this bothers me one bit. It probably will eventually, but right now I am just completely, totally happy to finally be doing what I’ve wanted to do for so long, and there is a deep sense of peace that comes with that. To quote something my friend Michael wrote, “I am so blessed. This is where I belong.”

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The job

Today we had a 9:00 am meeting with the school's principal, Evelyn, so she could tell us more about our jobs. Pretty early on, she turned to me and said, "You are Karla, yes?" I nodded. Then she just grinned and said, "You will be very, very busy."

Turns out "very, very busy" means 9 classes a day: English literature, English writing, and science (!) for grades 7-9. The day runs from 7:00-2:30, I have no prep periods, and while there is a 30 minute recess, there is no time built in for lunch. I was assured it gets worked in somehow, and I'm sure it all will work out fine, but it'll be a trip to see how it all happens.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Today's the Day

My church prayed a blessing over me last Sunday in preparation for my move, and I wanted to share part of it today as I leave. Though it especially fits my life right now, I think it could apply to anyone. It is only one example of the many, many ways I’ve been supported by the people I love in my life. I am deeply grateful.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Game On!

Tomorrow, after months of preparation, I finally move to Honduras. To my surprise, I’m not nervous or scared at all, but only full of hope and excitement for what lies ahead. With visiting people, saying good-bye to San Miguel, and getting rid of most of my things, it has been a full but wonderful summer.

To give you an idea, here’s a short list of just some of the things I gave away, threw away, or recycled: a bag full of dead batteries, the Complete Works of Shakespeare (unopened since college), my 8th grade yearbook, 3 half-used sample sized tubes of toothpaste, the remains of years of unused Christmas cards, a dress made of material with the faces of the bishops of northern Ghana, four nearly empty jars of salsa, a strawberry-scented Care Bear, copies of old resumes, an empty roll of packing tape, photo negatives from a trip to Italy, the collection of CDs from my Harry Connick Jr. phase, a fanny pack, shoes one size too small, a windup Gorilla toy, a bottle of ibuprofen that expired in 2004, a Jesus action figure, a shelf full of empty shoeboxes, several medals from high school Speech tournaments, cards received for my second grade First Communion service, lots of Tupperware with no matching pieces, and a pile of coupons for discount tattoos.

It is good to simplify.