Life is Good (1/19/11)–Salem

I had a moment today when we were riding the chicken bus home from Antigua where I realized that I like it here. A lot. I like that I can ride with the windows open in January and that the buses whip down the highway so fast that you have to hold on to the seat. I really like my cooperating teacher and I’m excited to start teaching some classes soon. I love the kids. It’s been three days and I love them. They’re great. Even though they pick their noses and have accidents and cry and poke each other and can’t pronounce my name. I don’t feel nervous anymore when I pass people on the street and I walked to the bus stop alone for the first time today. It’s been a good day.

The second day of school was even crazier than the first. We met our Prepa B students, who come to us during the second half of the day. They are the less English-proficient students, so they don’t understand as much of what we are saying and they get distracted easier. We use Spanish with them sometimes to explain things because if we explain in English, they just stare blankly at us. They’re good kids, but they just don’t speak English. Plus they were in Spanish for the whole first day, and probably hadn’t heard English very much in the two months they didn’t have school.

Today was much better. All of the kids are getting used to us speaking in English. Right now we are observing how kids write, trace, hold a pencil, and color, and also looking at what they know. My job is to walk around and help and also to correct them by having them change what they say in Spanish to English. During snack time they always need their packages opened, so they say, “Puede abrir?” and I make them say, “Open please?” before I will open it. The bathroom is also a big one, so we make them say, “Can I go to the bathroom please?” instead of “Puedo ir al baño?” which was the cause of an accident the first day. We’re lucky parents are told to bring a change of clothes. I’ve noticed that teachers and students are more affectionate with each other here. It’s not uncommon to hear a teacher calling a student “mi amor” (my love) and when we walk to recess or to another class I always have a student holding my hand.

Tomorrow is a long day. We usually start at 8 and go until 2, which is very long for these kids (we had one crying because he wanted to go home today), but tomorrow we go until 3 because the older kids have an extra hour of class. We are supposed to do “extra curricular activities,” but I have no idea what that means. I think we are just supposed to do something fun and educational. I think naptime sounds like a plan.

I’ll leave you with some random thoughts:

1. I really wish I had brought my iPod… and some movies. The nearest movie theater is in Guatemala City and there are no movie rental places. You can buy pirated DVDs in the mercado, but I’ve been told most of the people go into the movie and record it on a camera and try to sell the video.

2. I wish I had gotten the kids’ music my parents have so I can use it in my classroom. (*PARENTS* Can you email me the songs from the Pizza CD and Joann’s other CD? And any other kids’ music you have. Or slow instrumentals? THANKS!)

3. I wish we had people to hang out with. As much as I like Loren, I miss our friends at home and having people to talk to in person. So if any of you feel like coming to visit, that’s ok with us!

4. We get internet in 2 days (cross your fingers)! Let’s make a Skype date!

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