Thursday, April 15, 2010

my brain hurts

Oscar commented that I looked tired, and I do, and I am. Some of it is navigating the new situation, judging when I might need to push for something, being patient--being patient takes an absurd amount of energy sometimes, considering you're purposefully not doing something--about getting my own classroom, getting enough teaching hours, getting started teaching by myself in my own classroom.

The real brain-hurt comes from language. For four weeks I was spending all my time with other volunteers, speaking English, and really just needing Spanish for asking directions and stuff. Now, I'm speaking mostly Spanish, surrounded by dozens of new acquaintances at school, doing complicated life tasks in town. I speak well enough that I don't trigger people's "Oh, it's a gringo, maybe I should speak slower" reflex, so in addition to meeting a billion new people each day, most of those billion people are firing full-speed barrages of Chilean Spanish at me. (Most hilarious: my host grandmother Aurora, talking to me, mumbling, with her mouth full of bread, with her hand in front of her mouth to hide the fact that she's talking with her mouth full of bread. Bloody hell.) Somehow the connection between "he's speaking like a ten-year old" and "I should speak more slowly and clearly" just isn't getting made.

I'm often thinking in Spanish, though, which is a fascinating thing to watch my mind do. Sometimes these beautiful fluent sentences will come out, that seem to say exactly (-ish) what I want to say, in the way I want to say it, and after the fact I realize there wasn't translation happening: it was actual speaking.

Marcela's been telling the kids that I don't speak Spanish. I don't like it as a matter of honesty, and they'll find out eventually, but inside the classroom, I don't speak Spanish, so probably it will get chalked up to a loss in translation. Although, where the kids are concerned, it's not much of a stretch: I understand almost nothing of what they say.

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