Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Te quiero...

...como si fuera mi hermana.
Being abroad for extended periods of time opens my eyes to things that I am aware of while I am in the States, but tend to forget. Such as how many wonderful people bless my life. I know, everyone things that they have the best friends, the best family, the best life. But really, that's how I feel.
I go to bed each night thanking God for blessing me with such fantastic people to interact with on a daily basis. On Tuesday, God gets an extra dose of thankfulness.
Typically I go to Bible Study at the Pastor's house on Tuesdays. Who happens to live right next door to Vilma. Life is perfect, right? I went the first Tuesday I was here (really, four days off the plane) and our reunion was everything my heart needed, yet not what I ever could have imagined. Week two was the reunion that I dreamt about for the past four years. Fast forward FOUR weeks and I'm just getting around to seeing Vilma again. It's amazing how I went four years without seeing her and, while it felt like a long time, it seemed manageable. Now here I am living in the same city and four weeks was pretty unbearable.
I was picked up by the pastor and a couple of my friends and we made the bumpy trek up to his house. I saw Vilma's house, but didn't see anyone outside. I looked over my shoulder as we drove past and there she was standing at the door. Ughh, precious. We went inside, socialized for a few seconds, and then I came back outside with Lorena. And there was Vilma, standing outside looking up at the house. I waved, she waved,  and she started runnng up the hill.

We legitimately greeted each other with an embrace just like this. Smiling, running into each other's arms. Be still my heart. We chatted a little, she corrected my Spanish. And then we began throwing rocks at a post to see who could hit it the most. (Just throwing it out there, I won.)

We threw rocks for quite some time before we said our good-byes. I might need to find a bigger bag of tricks for when my Spanish skills run out, but, for today, she and I were just having so much fun together. We were saying our good-byes, which isn't a short process, but involves lots of hugging, kissing, and "te quiero"ing. As we were hugging, she looked at me and said "Te quiero. Te quiero mucho. Te quiero como si fuera mi hermana." I love you. I love you a lot. I love you as if you were my sister.
Me too, Vilma. Me too.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Life is Different At The Beach.

Life is different at the beach. Time doesn't move hour to hour, but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.
A long week in Siguatepeque? No thanks, we'd rather be in Tela. So that's exactly what we did. Jamie, Katharine, Erika, and I went to the parade on Saturday morning along with every other person in Siguatepeque, thought about joining a marching band, cheered on Sarah, and ate soem delicious banana bread courtesy of Celebration church.
Sometime in the afernoon Katharine picked us up and we began the three hour trek to Tela. Approximately 2.5 of the 3 hours were spent BELTING out Disney songs. All five of us. At the top of our lungs. I can honestly say that a year ago I didn't think that I'd be driving through the mountains of Honduras singing some wonderful Disney tunes. But here I am. And I kind of love it.
We arrived in Tela and went straight to the pool. An infinity pool looking over the Gulf of Mexico? Good luck getting me back to school. The next morning we woke up, had breakfast, and went straight to the beach. Pretty rough life, if you ask me. Beach, breakfast, beach, lunch, beach, dinner. And repeat. Yes. Please.
It was nice to get away. To rejuvenate, to relax. Tela, we will be back. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Día de Independencia

 Happy Independence Day, Honduras!

Honduras celebrated 191 years of independence sometime in September therefore we had lots of independence day festivities and celebrations. The biggest of which was the parades. Kindergarten marched on Thursday, elementary school marched on Friday, and high school marched on Saturday. We practiced a couple of days this week and I was so proud of the kids and how well they did!

My Grade Two girls were dressed up in their fancy dresses, had their hair all done, and were all wearing make-up. The boys were all wearing khakis and button downs with ties. They looked so stinkin’ cute! It was really sunny and we stood around a lot, but the kids had really good attitudes about it.

Saturday was the high school parade and we all went downtown for it. Any chance for us Americans to get out of the house and we all jump on it. It felt nice to see so many people that I know and are  familiar to me; I’m really starting to feel connected here and like a part of Siguatepeque.

 A lot of the schools had bands and were really groovin’. It was much more of a performance than the elementary school parades which made it really fascinating to watch.
It wasn't the 4th of July at an Indians game chowing down on some hot dogs, but it was pretty darn close.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Missing Out? Or Just Missing?

Sometimes quotes and thoughts from other people can sum up my feelings better than I can. We all have our strengths and mine certainly isn't putting my feelings into words.

My dear, dear friend, Nicole, seems to be living the same life as me, just a year later. She's completing her student teaching in Sarasota, Florida right now and posted this blog entry a couple of days ago. Thank you, thank you, thank you Nicole. For finally putting into words how I have been feeling for the past nine months of my life.

"While discussing Ashland over the weekend, I stated that I hadn't realized how much I was going to miss by being here. I decided to student teach in the fall rather than the spring to avoid missing those unforgettable senior moments, but what I hadn't thought about was the events and experiences that only occur during the fall, of which I won't be able to go to this year, and likely ever again. The soccer, football, and volleyball games I've always gone to, Homecoming weekend, team bonding, and so many more.

But while I was thinking about all of this, a friend questioned whether I was missing these things, or missing out on these things. In other words, was I actually upset about not being there for those events and experiences, or was I just thinking about all of the things I can't go to, even if they really don't mean that much to me. This was a complete eye-opener. Sure I am missing out on going to those games or having those experiences, but the only things I seem to truly be missing are the people back in Ohio and the experiences that those events allow me to create with those people.

This morning I was struggling a lot with this, but throughout the day, it became obvious how miniscule those events are compared to the opportunities I have here. I have met so many amazing people here and have already learned things I probably never would have had I stayed in Ohio. I still miss my family and friends in Ohio, but I would never trade those events that I'm missing out on for the experiences I have had, can have, and will have here."

My favorite line? "Sure I am missing out on going to those games or having those experiences, but the only things I seem to truly be missing are the people back in Ohio and the experiences that those events allow me to create with those people."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Myth Confirmed: Honduras Edition.


You know the myth that all students buy into. The one that teachers live at their school and never leave and definitely never go to the grocery store. Well, here at Siguatepeque Bilingual Christian School we prove that myth to be 100% true.

We live and work all on the exact same complex. From my front door to my classroom door, it's about 50 steps. This is not an exaggeration, this is real life.

It's kind of nice because I don't have to factor any time for a commute into my morning routine. It's kind of nice because I can come home during my prep periods and lunch to relax. It's kind of not nice because we rarely leave our home/work complex.

In any case, the myth has been confirmed. Teachers do, in fact, live at school.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day: Part Two. And The Break-through.

For whatever reason I had been putting off this post. I couldn't give a specific reason as to why because I knew that I wanted to write down my thoughts and feelings about my first REAL day of school. ("Real" being I had my Grade Ones and Grade Twos as I typically will.) But I couldn't do it. For the past two days I have been telling myself to write about everything so that I could see how far I have come. So that one day when I've had lots and lots of teaching experience, I can go back to this and remember what these past few days have been like.

But I just couldn't do it.

Until today.

My Grade Twos have settled into the routines and are doing absolutely wonderful. We've started building relationships with each other and are getting into the groove of being in school. That isn't to say that we don't have our struggles, but we're doing so much better than "just surviving".

Grade Ones are TOUGH. They're sweet children with very vibrant personalities, but they are energetic. Super, super energetic. 25 of them. One of me. You do the math.

I left my classroom on Monday and Tuesday very, very over-whelmed. I felt as if I had stepped into this classroom blind. An observer would think that I had no training in teaching. These kids were wild and I had no idea what to do. I had to shut the door behind me, take a deep breath, and know that tomorrow was a new day to try again.

Let me paint the picture though. As soon as I got here, people looked at me with that look of pity when I said that I was teaching Grade One. My princial and assistant principal and partner teacher all looked at me like they felt sorry for me on Monday and Tuesday. My students were standing on desks, screaming at each other, refusing to work, stabbing each other with pencils (more on that later). It was TOUGH. Not just general talking while I was teaching, but I couldn't even get their attention to try to talk to them. Turning the lights off? Nope. Clapping? Nada. Having them repeat my actions? Nah. Talking quiet? Not a chance. Trying to talk loud? Not over 25 students. I had no idea what to do. No. Idea.

All I could do was take a deep breath, say a lot of prayers, and prepare for another day. More than once did I allow the chaos to get crazier before trying to settle it down because I knew there was no fighting against these strong-willed children.

And then today happened. The students came in, sat down, paid attention. They were NOT the same students who had been in my classroom earlier this week. And they stayed like that for the entire afternoon. WHAT?! Who were these children?! I was so proud of them, I gave them so many hugs and rewards today because they were so well-behaved. The only issues we had were general Grade One problems. Nothing like we dealt with the past two days.

Today was fantastic. It was exactly what I needed. It showed me that not evey day will be perfect, but there are ways to reach these kids. The potential is there. And honestly, these kids have so much working against them, it's no wonder the first couple of days were hard. It was their first time staying at school past noon, it was their first time with an English teacher since May, it was the afternoon, it's been hot, my room was arranged in a horrible way. I can't listen to Spanish for very long without getting distracted, so I completely understand how the kids felt. I couldn't be upset with them, I just had to keep pushing through.

And today was so, so worth it. We ran around outside. I taught them the appropriate time to say "Stick 'em up!" and how to flaunt their new style of their pants rolled up into short shorts. We laughed. We had fun. I taught, they learned. And I learned from them.

I'm not assuming that everyday is going to be like today. But it gives me hope that there will be good days ahead. I butted heads with my kids in Brazil for the first four-ish weeks until we were comfortable with each other and then we loved each other. I can see this going much the same way.

My principal and assistant principal are great. So great. I am so blessed to work with such wonderful people. Both of them have offered to help me wherever are need it and are frequently hanging out in/ around my classroom. They always check in on my during recesses and at the end of the day. I couldn't ask for better people to be working with and to have supporting me.

Speaking of my assistant principal. Yesterday, in a particularly rough time, my students were taking their pencils and pencil sharpeners and then stabbing each other with them. I took a pencil from a kid, stepped outside just as my assistant principal walked past. The conversation went as follows. "Umm, Profe Maria Mercedes? Necesito ayuda, por favor. Umm, los alumnos sacan sus lapices y umm sus sacapuntas. Y umm *sharpening motion* y entonces *stabing motion*" Yeah. We're working on the expansion of my Spanish vocabulary, I was never excellent at Charades.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Enojado? In Ohio?

I was reminded yesterday at church how important it is to annunciate clearly and speak with a purpose.

One of the teachers invited us to her church and asked me where I live in the United States. I replied by saying "In Ohio". She thought I said "enojado" which is how to say "mad" in Spanish. This is not the first time I have encountered this issue. My host family in Costa Rica thought that I was mad for the a good two weeks before realizing I meant "In. Ohio."

Lesson learned.