Thursday, August 11, 2011

Enseñando y aprendiendo

One of the funniest moments Sarah and I have shared happened the other night at the expensive of the extensive security system mentioned in the first post and myself. I think it is more of a “you had to be there” kind of a moment, but I wanted to mention it anyway. At about 9:10PM, the lovely, computerized, Spanish voice (we need to give her a name still) gave us the one-minute warning announcement, about 50 minutes earlier than planned. We both froze, stared at each other, and then I realized I didn’t have any water, a necessity in Puerto Rico, especially when you are locked in your room for the night! I grabbed my empty water bottle, leaped over the beds, ran through the doors, and bolted into the kitchen to fill it up with filtered water. I could hear the beeping of the motion sensor speeding up, but I couldn’t make the water come out any faster. When the beeping seemed like it was at its max, I stopped filling my bottle and sprinted back to my room. The beeping must have stopped just before I made it to the other side of the sensor, because I think I set the alarm off.  Sister María came down the stairs, and was saying something to us through our doors. At this point, Sarah and I were laughing so hard we could barely make out Sister María’s rapid Spanish, let alone breathe. I think Sister María thought we were absolutely crazy. I finally controlled myself enough to open the door a bit and tell her sorry and that we had everything we needed. We probably continued to laugh about our situation for another 10 minutes straight. HA ha!

Our lifestyle in Puerto Rico is completely opposite from our lifestyle at college. Luckily, Sarah and I share an interest that we are able to practice here, and that helps keeps us sane: running. There is a track about four blocks from the Monastery that we decided to check out last Wednesday. As we were running, we noticed a big group of people slowly gathering on the side of the track, and every time we passed them they cheered us on. When we were done with our run, one of the guys from the group starting talking to us. We learned that the group we saw gathering is a bunch of friends who meet everyday to run together. They train for various races in Puerto Rico throughout the year, and they invited us to join them!  The next day we met them on the track and we did a full workout, something that Sarah and I have not done since being on the CSB track team. It felt really good, it was fun, and we met a lot of great people. So far we’ve been invited to an art show, and will be competing in a 5K race this Sunday with the team!

As far as monastic life goes, it seems that every time we go to prayer or mass, we are able to follow along a little bit better than the last time. We went to mass at church in town on Sunday, and it was gorgeous, but also very hot and hard to understand the priest. On Tuesdays a priest comes to the Monastery and we have mass there. I really enjoyed that, because I was able to understand the complete homily (given in Spanish, of course). It’s easier to understand someone when they are talking in a small room that doesn’t echo.

The heat is unbelievable! I don’t think they even bother changing the 7-day forecast…everyday is listed as an average 85 degrees, 80% humidity and chance of showers (which by the way, when it rains or storms, the humidity stays the exact same!).
On the first day of class, Sarah and I packed our backpacks: computers, textbooks, water bottles, rain jackets, umbrellas, markers, snacks and all. At about 7:20AM, we started walking to Colegio San Benito (CSB), and by the time we arrived, about 10 minutes later, we were soaked with sweat! That will probably be the last time walking to school for us. However, the important part is that we woke up on time, found the school, and made it there in one piece for our first day of teaching… EVER!

The first day was a bit overwhelming, as it should be. I was asked to be a substitute teacher for a seventh grade Physical Education class. Seventh graders talk “muy rapido”… It was hard to understand their questions, but I survived. After substituting, it was time for me to teach my first Health class to 11 eighth graders. I was pretty nervous, especially when they started entering the classroom – Puerto Ricans are much taller than Guatemalans, so height is not something that will be on my side when trying to establish control. I was also unaware of how much English they would understand. That being said, I could not have asked for my first time teaching (ever!) to go any better!

When the lunch bell rang, students exploded into the halls and were off to go eat. My face must have given away the confusion that I was feeling inside, because one of the teachers, Mrs. Piazy, asked if I knew what was going on. When I told her I didn’t even know where the cafeteria was, she took me there and explained how everything works. I was extremely grateful for this. The students and faculty all eat together in the cafeteria, which is nice, but also really hectic! They piled so much food on my tray – I ended up eating a huge portion of rice and beans, two pieces of chicken, vegetables, watermelon, and milk from a bag (another first).

After lunch, it was time for my second class of the day, History and Geography of the Americas. I have the same 11 students for this class that I have for Health class, so I will really be getting to know them. They speak varying amounts of English and have varying knowledge of the geography of the world. One student thought Alaska was Nevada and another thought that Europe was a country in South America… we have some work to do! I think I am most excited for my History/Geography class, because I think I will learn the most from this class as well. It is overwhelming and intimidating right now to think about planning for an entire school year, but I am hoping that after seeing how the first week of classes goes, I will be able to envision how the rest of the year might look.

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