Thursday, April 22, 2010

the mind, it thoughts endlessly

I went to the English Department meeting yesterday. Or I eventually did. I had some fun watching my mind along the way.

Pamela, the tourism teacher (my school is aimed at training kids for business, accounting, and tourism), asked if I was coming to the teachers' meeting. I asked if I should, and she said if I'm teaching 20 hours, probably. I asked Oscar, pointing out that I wouldn't understand the proceedings, and he said, "Nah, maybe later when you can understand more."Then Marcela says it's an English Department meeting. I said I probably wasn't going to go, and she had a look I interpreted as dubious, though who knows--we're from different cultures and still getting to know each other (though we hit it off quite well). So off I went to deliver my postcards and not be at school, after running my lesson for 3 different classes of 45 kids.

I walked through the feria (market) outside the school, eyeing the grapes I would buy later, the blankets spread on the ground filled with used faucets and new cheap Chinese padlocks, and all this noise came up about not going to the department meeting. I'm working with these people all year; I'm still establishing my relationship with the department head. Will they notice I didn't go? Would they care? Would they see me as aloof from them?

These are all questions of "What do other people think of me?", which I'm used to ignoring. But I'm at a new workplace in a foreign culture. It actually feels appropriate to think about whether what I'm doing is offending or bothering someone, because I don't know what's expected of me yet. My role in the community is not yet defined.

I developed a few ways to rationalize not coming to the meeting, if anyone asked.

I finally decided that if I was constructing excuses in advance (without any indication that anyone cared), then clearly I felt I should go. I would deliver my postcards and then show up late.

I did, and it was sort of nice. They were talking at speed in Spanish, so as usual I understood 25-30% of what was going on: enough to track the topic, but not enough to know how to answer when someone looks at me (because obviously I've been showing signs of understanding the discussion) and asks me a specific question. They were mostly talking about the impossibility of planning the curriculum for the year, when every topic takes longer than they expect; and about how the students don't study and aren't learning, a persistent theme from the teachers in all subjects, which I'll write more about later. And I got my schedule for the debate teams: I think Marcela is keeping an eye out and making sure I have Thursdays free.

I don't know if anyone cared that I showed up. Marcela might have appreciated it a bit, which itself would make it worthwhile. But I felt better.

No comments:

Post a Comment