Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the news from chrisland

I thought the week would return me to normalcy after my week off, which it has inasfar as most of the week is canceled: Monday was a holiday, today was a half-day due to a teacher meeting (I haven't seen that half of 1-H in 5 weeks), and Friday is off for Teachers' Day. Plus tomorrow night is the Teachers' Day dinner, and then Friday night is another asado at Bennett's in the country, starting at 9pm. I'm hoping to rent a tent, actually, so with my sleeping bag I'll have a place to crawl into away from the party, and go to bed before 5am.

It has been more or less nice to be back in the classroom. I'm essentially teaching the same lesson I figured out last semester, with different material plugged in. The kids were getting bored with it, but having some time apart cleanses the palate, and reminds them how much more fun I can be than their regular classes. It helps me to have a lesson plan that I know works; the kids' response combined with my lack of training has generally discouraged much innovation.

Rodolfo in 1-G is one of my favorite and most talkative students, and started chatting when I went to get them from their room.
"Hey, how come we didn't have class last week? Were you stressed out or something?"
"Kinda, yeah, I was tired, so I took a break."
"You can do that? Just...take a break? For being tired?"
"Well, it was only because Marcela was out. Technically I don't have to work when she's not here." [Not exactly true. I don't have to take the entire 45-student class. I'm supposed to work if there's a substitute or if I can take half the class with Marcela gone.]
He told this to Marcela, who just chuckled.
"But Rodolfo, I have different rules than the regular teachers. They don't actually pay me: I'm a volunteer."
Bafflement. "Wait...what? How do you support yourself?"
Which led to a conversation about my savings, small stipend, host family, and then he asked:
"What do you do in the United States?"
Someone else said, "Duh, he's a teacher."
"Actually, I'm a software engineer."
More bafflement. Rodolfo: " did you end up here?"
A conversation for another time. I'm good enough at teaching that they have a hard time imagining I'm not a teacher by profession, which is kinda cool, though it barely survives my self-criticism.

All of Chile is united and obsessed with the miners: people actually got up at midnight to watch the first of them get out, and stayed up watching for hours. I don't follow Chilean news much, so I only know what I get from the newspaper headlines on the street, and from Chileans asking me if I've seen the news. For the past couple of days, the house grandmother has had "Los mineros" as her muttering-of-choice as she goes about the house talking to herself. (She's always muttering something.)

My second aikido class yesterday went pretty well. It's really hard without even one really experienced person. Also, I was teaching in Spanish. Also, a new guy showed up mid-way and wanted to know about the art and then wanted to join the class. That worked out well because whatever his story is, he's ready for aikido in a way that not everyone is. So he fit right in and I think he'll stick. Maybe I should give myself some credit.

Updates are sparse this week because the "wireless" part of the house's wireless router has died again. It turns out I've been pretty dependent on it for feeling connected and busy; hopefully it fixes itself like it did when we got here. Otherwise, I'll see if Anna can bring my spare router when she visits in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, there's...uh...whiskey. And pisco! And cookies.

Oh, fine, I'll go read a book.

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