Hola amigos! I’ve rewritten this introduction 4 times because I feel awkward that’s it’s been so long since my last post and I don’t know what to say! I kind of forgot how to write a blog in my 5 weeks of being in my new site. I honestly haven’t written because I felt like a loser because I didn’t think I had anything cool to say but now that I’ve started writing, my brain is going crazy with ideas and I’m pretty sure this post is going to be one of my long rambles.
Ok, I’ll start by telling you about my school since it’s my main job. As I think I’ve previously mentioned, my pueblo is an agricultural/fishing village and as such, the school is a technical school that focuses on these two professions. The students were trying to explain it to me one day and apparently upon graduation, they will all be certified “farmers” (for lack of a better word). So that’s pretty cool but many students also plan on going to college after graduation. Colombian schools are very different than schools in the US. For instance, there aren’t really elementary schools and high schools, one institution hosts grades K-11 (most schools don’t have a 12th grade). However, there are usually too many students so the school day is broken up into “jornadas” and half the students attend school from 6:30-12:30 and the other half from 12:30-5:30. At INETAR, my school, the bachillerato, or grades 6-11, go in the morning jornada and K-5 is in the afternoon, however there are some exceptions to this. Because the high school students have more than 6 subjects, they don’t see every teacher every day. Most subjects are taught only three times per week. This is fun for me because that means every day is different. There are no English classes 1st period so I don’t go to school until 7:50, thank goodness. If you think all that’s weird wait until you here the next part….
TEACHERS DON’T HAVE THEIR OWN CLASSROOMS!!!! Instead, each grade has their own classrooms. This means that the students are together all day long and the teachers flit in and out throughout the day. Grades K-9 have two sections each and 10-11 only have one due to drop outs. When I first discovered this fact I was blown away, however now having my own classroom seems absurd. It’s kind of nice moving around and getting to see the two different buildings. However, the building for grades 6 & 7 is honestly the hottest place I’ve ever been in, including tanning beds, hot tubs and saunas. One day I wore khakis and I sweated so much it looked like I peed my pants. TMI???
Right now I am just working with one English teacher and grades 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11 (interesting because 8th grade was my least favorite in the US). I hope to start working with the primary kids soon, partly because they need English but mainly because they think I’m cool. While the set up of schools may be different between countries, the behavior is the same and these high schoolers make just as much fun of me as the kids at Lewis Central did. I really don’t get it because I think I’m essentially the coolest thing since sliced bread, I guess people just fear awesomeness 🙂
Even though I’m mocked in both countries, I will say that the respect that kids here have for adults is literally jaw dropping (I’m not kidding, my jaw dropped at least 3 times in my first week). For example, students passing you in the hallways don’t look away or suddenly become interested in the floor. They stop, look you in the eye and greet you. Some even shake your hand! It’s incredible! Also, if you ask a kid to do something, i.e. erase the board, grab a chair or give you some chips, they don’t scoff in your face. THEY JUST DO WHAT YOU ASK OF THEM! Can you believe it?! Ok, here’s the kicker, if a student sees me standing, whether it be in class or in the hallway during recess, they run away for about 10 seconds and come racing back carrying a chair for me. I’ve never been treated like this in a nice hotel let alone a school! It’s mind blowing but I love it. Not only are the kids respectful, they’re just so dang affectionate! This is taking me A LOT to get used to because I’m not even affectionate by US standards (as my father points out every chance he gets). Here they take things to a whole new level and come up and hug and kiss you. It’s not at all inappropriate for a student to just grab my arm while I’m walking or run up and kiss my cheek. I mean, I guess it’s sweet but it still freaks me out. Especially with the heat! It’s already 100 degrees and I’m drenched in sweat? Why in the world would I want you to touch me? But I just have to remember it’s how they show they care and appreciate me.
With that being said, the kids’ behavior outside of class is pure wild. I’ve seen children climbing on the roof, running and diving through windows and hanging on the rafters. How they have so much energy in the sweltering heat is beyond me. The government has really got to put in some fans or something. Some of the rooms don’t even have lights. It’s been very eye opening seeing how much learning can happen in miserable conditions with nothing more than a whiteboard, a marker and a motivated teacher. It also has made me realize how lucky even the poorest schools are back home.
In addition to teaching during the day, I’ve started outside English classes per the request Of the adorable 6th graders. By request, I mean students showed up on my doorstep one day armed with pencils and paper (don’t get me started on personal boundaries).I was also surprised to see that some of the students who wanted extra learning opportunities were the ones described as “nightmares” by the teachers. I’m not saying that’s not true, but they are pretty cute regardless and how could I possibly say no to kids who are eager to learn? I also just started a running club. Those who know me may think that “running” is code for tv watching and chocolate eating but I promise, we are actually running around the pueblo sweating our butts off while people laugh at us. The story of how run club got started is pretty hilarious but I’ll save that for another day…
There’s a lot more to say but my friend let me borrow her external hard drive and she has the first two seasons of The Mindy Project so I’m going to cut this short. I also don’t even know if I’ll be able to load this with the data plan I’ve purchased for my phone. It took me 3 days to upload a 6 second video to Instagram. That’s why there’s no pictures this time. No wifi=no pics. Sorry amigos but that’s the pueblo life. Hope all is well and you have a very happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’ll be visiting friends, eating Colombian food, wishing it was corned beef and cabbage and dreaming of green beer. Love you and thanks for reading! ❤
PS shout out to the homie MC for yet another blog post title. Check out her blog that is way more organized and actually contains pictures!