So...after a gorgeous run after school today (something about standing halfway up a hill and overlooking the entire town of La Serena with the sun reflecting off the ocean, outlining the mountains that surround the city), I came to a realization with my blog: I just need to write. As most of you know, sometimes I have a tendency to make things "perfect"/put things in perfect order/make lists/etc. Because of this, I have been putting off blogging since I have so many events with which I need to catch up. Instead of writing about my Chilean adventures in chronological order, I am just going to write it as I go...
Today was my first week at school!!! The week went by so fast, and I am already loving it. The past 5 days have just been "observation," so I went to all of the English classes and met the students. Each class consisted of me standing in front of 30+ smiling/giggling kids and introducing myself with the following spiel: "Hello. How are you. Good! My name is Stef, and I am from the United States. I was born in a state called Colorado. Do you know where Colorado is? No? Do you know where California is? Yes? Well, they are kind of close. Not really..." And then commenced about 30 minutes of Q & A. They asked typical questions...age, music, movies, etc...but here are some funny ones:
"Are you single? Do you want to find a Chilean boyfriend? Do you have a younger brother or sister?
"How many kids do you want?"
"How many places have you traveled?" (and when I told them Tanzania, Australia, and Puerto Rico they all looked at me like I was crazy and was a decorated world-traveler)
"Did you know Michael Jackson?"
"Do you like Justin Bieber?" (and when I said no, the room erupted in laughter and applause)
My favorite class I visited was the little 5th graders. They were SO cute and well behaved. The teacher (Alexis...more about this awesome man later) had them prepare questions ahead of time, so I was just going down the rows of the attentive, brown-eyed kids answering their cute little questions. Of course, being so young, they didn't understand all of my "big" English words, so Alexis helped me translate to "Chilean" (for the record...they do NOT speak Spanish here...they speak Chilean). At the end of the class, two little boys ran up to me and gave me an apple juice box and a ball of yarn. Yes, yarn. Then a little girl asked me for my autograph. Needless to say, I left with a GIGANTIC smile on my face and a few extra bounces in my step :)
The students are really nice, light-hearted kids. They are constantly smiling, laughing, and making jokes. Though this can make it difficult to have "control" over the classroom, the positive energy is contagious, and I have come to accept it's just the way it is here.
Here's the skinny...
I am teaching at "Colegio Andres Bello Pampa," a semi-private school from grades "pre-kinder" (preschool) to "cuarto medio" (12th grade). The school is small, with about 75-100 kids per grade. When I tell them I graduated with 800 people they look at me like I have about 800 heads standing behind me. Pretty typical look around here...thank you blond hair and American accent.
I will be teaching 8th grade - 11th grade for about 25 hrs/week since they have a bit higher level of English. Each class is 1.5 hours long, so I will teach half the class in a separate (my own!!) classroom for the first 45 minutes and then get the other half of the class for the remainder 45. I'll be working with Alexis and Violeta for the majority of the classes, as well as Yasmin and Gina for one class each. Having my own classroom is a big deal b/c each class of students has their own room that they stay in the entire day, and it's the teachers that go from class to class to teach (this creates interesting dynamics which I'm sure you can all imagine...).
Alexis is my "host teacher" at the school. He is absolutely AMAZING!!!! He's 28, is a total sweetheart, is really cute, has nearly perfect English, and is engaged to his girlfriend of 9 years (who is also really nice and funny). After meeting him in person I told myself, "It's official. I could not have been put in a better situation in Chile." My host family ROCKS. My host teacher is amazing. La Serena is the best town in Chile (seriously, the entire nation of Chile took a survey and voted La Serena as the best city to live in).
Tonight I am meeting up with Megan (a fellow volunteer) and we are going to an "asado" (a BBQ) and then out with her "primos" (cousins) to "carretear" (party) at the discos. Tomorrow afternoon some of our English Winter Camp students invited us to make empanadas and hang out, so we will be doing that, too!
Smiling, always :)
PEACE IN LOVE!!