Tuesday, November 9, 2010

fleas bite!

so ive been bitten by fleas before, and it sucks, but this time its worse. i guess some people are more likely to get bitten than others, and then some have bad allergic reactions. so apparently im one of those people. i had bites on my leg at first, and they itch so bad that i make myself bruise. then they spread on my leg, and up my lower back. i even have some on my arms. i thought i must have been bitten again, maybe one living in my bed, but because of my body´s reaction, my host family tells me that im just badly allergic like their son and the bumps keep spreading. i think thats what happened before, but it was just on my stomach. oh gosh im dying! itches so freakin bad! ive made myself bleed! im using creams, took a syrup, oh gosh i hope they go away. and the thing about flea bites, is they last about 2 weeks! oh fun!

jealous arent ya now? :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

the sweetest thing...

I hear some wonderful compliments and nice things from my students, but this one really touched me. Its from a third grader, Victoria, who wrote me a card today.

in Spanish she wrote: yo se que para algunos es muy difícil inglés, pero con una profesora como usted, siempre se aprende.
Translation: I know that for some English is very difficult, but with a teacher like you, it is learned.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A chicken with the head cut off...

My friend here always says that about me. It´s quite funny and now is an inside joke between us. I am always leaving my things in various places and then run around scrambling looking for that one thing that I really need. It also explains how I feel many other times down here. Once things seem to relax, something else comes around that shakes my balance.
The first few weeks after I returned from visiting home, I was quite sad to be back. My motivation seemed to have gone and I was missing everything from home. Going from a more than pampered lifestyle back to just sufficient is not a dream. It´s difficult, and I occasionally question what Im doing here. Thats when I need to rethink over my goals and if I feel I doing something worthwhile. I keep having to remember even if the classes arent progressing as I wish them too (which is impossible with the schedule) there are changes I dont take notice of as much as I should.
Besides missing home, there were some complications with my job. Since the lady in charge of personnel did not know every aspect of having a foreigner on the payroll, she did not know and therefore tell me that I needed to have my license and degree authorized in Chile to work as a teacher in the public schools. When those in charge of monitoring the schools noticed that my degree was not validated here, they stated that it needed to be corrected or they would be fined heavily. This is not a just system, since the school depended on the woman in personnel to do her job and know all parts. Everyone tried to rush and correct the mistake at the last mistake, saying my schedule, along with the other English teacher, should be reorganized so she would be in charge of my classes. I could still teach, but all responsibilities wouldbe given to her. I would also possibly teach the older grades just for an hour. My hours would stay the same...blah blah. It was a mess, andI was not happy to have everything changed when I dont even receive all the benefit (monetarily) that the others teachers do because of my degree.
Thank goodness the school decide the schedule change and conflict was more work than necessary and we are keeping it the way it is. They are just waiting to see if they get caught again more or less.
Last week I had a student go into a seizure during class. I was turned around when it started, and after students called for my attention I realized what was happening. Oh I have not been that scared in a long time. Ran outside to call for help and after a few times screaming ¨emergency¨ and ¨hes not breathing,¨ they finally realized at least there was a problem. By the time they came up, the seizure was beginning to subside. I had to then get the class in order and calm them down. A few were crying and the rest were just in shock or were curious as to what had just happened. The best way I could, I decided to take the route of explaining what happened inside the little boy´s body and why his body was reacting the way it was. I made sure to explain the seizure was minor and he would be fine. It just happens sometimes. They went to wash their faces and I let them calm down in the classroom. Long afternoon. Thank goodness my co worker and close friend came in, asked me if I was alright, and then I went outside just to breathe for a minute.
The following week I had a girl throw up during class...whats next? hahaha.
Im a lot happier now. Im not loving my town, but Im trying to find things I can look forward to. I went to La Serena last weekend to visit another past volunteer and I met some great new people that she met through her job. This weekend is Chile´s Independence, which is comparable to Christmas in the states, and since we have 4 days off Im going back. She has a nice apartment right on the beach. Since Im considering staying next year, and only in La Serena, that is where I want to be. But I can explain more on that later....


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

what im feeling...

now i havent written in awhile...i have so many stories and things to tell that i do plan on backtracking on doing so at some point. right now though, i just want to say how im feeling. how im truly feeling about all this. coming home has given me more of a chance to do so, and being home has been emotional at times when no one was looking. i will not say that this is not an adventure, and a great opportunity, but this adventure is hard to say the least. i came home not just physically exhausted, but emotionally as well. i look at what i have been doing down in chile the last four months with pride, but at times it comes with a cost. but i do realize now, more that ever, opportunities or things truly worth having comes at a cost, and at times, quite a significant cost.
i miss it here. i didnt think it would hit me so hard, but i miss it here so much. i miss my family, friends, the mountains, stability, a comfortable mattress, all the options in the store...i miss not being sick all the time, and it can drive me crazy working all the time towards something that doesnt really seem promising when stepping back and taking in the full picture. i push so much at work to get results in all different areas, many times seeing little to no change that it seems fruitless. i come back home, and i feel in transition. im not here anymore, my home is here, but i am stationed elsewhere. i feel in flux between two different worlds where i am not sure where i am the most fulfilled. not to mention coming home where things seemed to not have truly changed, but under the surface small ripples have formed and people are making movements in one direction or the other. Friends are growing in their marriages or relationships, new jobs are started or the ones they have they are working towards a goal, kids may be on the horizon, and hobbies are being pursued and enjoyed. i dont know where i fit in that. dont get me wrong, im not even close to being ready for marriage or kids, but a relationship would not be bad. but do i really want to give up my options of traveling and doing ANY type of job i want for that at this time in my life? no. but i also dont want to be the one left behind not sure where i can go from here after my time doing anything i want.
my job is a great job to have. it is challenging, and rewarding, and helping me learn every day. it is also pushing me at times to my maximum. i will fulfill my contract, but i occasionally feel guilty for wanting just to stop and do something else. this is a difficult position, with even more difficult kids, and cultural issues, and lack or resources, etc. although this is where i feel i am making the biggest impact, and i am proud of myself for that. as much as all of it can become overwhelming, nothing beats the fact that another young boy who was so badly behaved the first few weeks is now the first to greet me, hug me, and wants to hold my hand. their smiles are worth more i can even put into words. i just need to remember that when im feeling out of sorts.... thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

it wasnt so funny at the time continued...

i remembered other anecdotes...

*i was bitten by fleas...yes you read correctly-FLEAS. apparently they can latch on from the dogs on the streets. i ended up with several bites on my legs. they itched so badly!

*i went to get a massage when i first came here since my back was really hurting. this was not really what i would consider a massage. it was like she was rubbing my skin, nothing else. so my skin was very relaxed. she applied no pressure, just a TON of oil...not a good combination.

*every time i took a shower in my new house, the water drained all over the floor. i had to sweep it into the drain every time and that took forever. then my floor would be wet for hours and many times left with puddles. this drove me crazy since muddy shoe prints were always left when the bathroom was used, and the bottoms of pants got wet. i finally stopped taking many showers during the week cause i didnt have time in the morning to deal with water disaster! sometimes i would even wash my hair in the sink just to avoid it. haha. (dont worry, its fixed now)

*one weekend i went to visit my friend mackenzie in La Serena. We went out with her boyfriend Cristian and my friend Luis. We took his car, which had issues starting. We had to push it to get it going and then get in. Well when we went to the bar that night and came back to the car, it just wouldnt start. We pushed forever but the engine would not turn over (is that correct??) Finally, we stopped some more guys and had them help push...nothing. Finally Luis and I were just left to push the car, which we did for quite awhile (even on the busy street). Some guys in a truck stopped and got it started. I guess Cristian wasnt so prepared to drive as we thought. Just imagine me pushing a car at about 1 or 2 in the morning. Laughing? good.

*today one of my teacher aides told me that i looked much thinner. then she proceeded to ask if i was throwing up. ummm i was not sure how to respond to that. so just because im thinner i must be taking drastic measures? haha but thanks for the compliment....i think.

*during one of our crazy rainstorms here, the electricity went out for the day. when my friend and i were walking in the dark to go to a corner store for some food, of course i was the one to step in a big pile of dog poo. oh yes, so great.

*speaking of dog poo, i now have adopted a puppy. (long story, will explain in next blog) and she must sleep inside in my room at night. well potty training if a little difficult, and she is just over a month old, so i get the pleasure of waking up several times a night to clean up after her. this morning i accidently stepped right in her pee. i love her, i love her, i love her...ugh.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It wasn´t so funny at the time..

...but now, at least I can laugh at several mishaps, circumstances, or some of the bad luck that has followed me around in Chile! This is definitely an experience! I wish there was even a better word than "experience." Sometimes it just doesnt seem to sum it up properly. Well, just to name a few of the incidents...

*to start off, let me remind you of the fact that I returned to Chile the same day as the earthquake here...

*which followed me to my region in the North where another earthquake hit less than 100 kilometers away! This time I was nervous!

*I have already been sick...twice

*it rarely rains here, especially once you go further into the Atacama Desert, but it has already rained 4 times and even hailed in my town! People over the age of 50 are saying that has never happened in Vallenar! So apparently at least not in the last fifty years! To top it off, I found out my new room has a roof issue....it leaks!

*in one of my schools, I have broken up fist fights in my classroom between third graders! Oh, and even when I try to break them up or get in between them they dont stop punching (on purpose??)....happened again today as a matter of fact.

*When I was talking to my students about how they need to use their brains, or how they have room in their brains, or just anything about their brains or minds, I was consistently using the wrong word in Spanish! brain/mind=mente mint=menta....oh just guess which one I was using until my friend corrected me! ¨You all have mints right? Well use them please!¨ No wonder they were confused....

*I am constantly, I mean constantly, tripping on the uneven sidewalks here. I wear my danskin clogs all the time, and let me tell you, they do not work well unless the ground is level! I swear Im going to twist my ankle next.

there are many more... ill think of them and add them later.

Even though some crap has happened (just the best word for some of it), I wouldnt trade my time here for anything. Yes, my kids might very well be the death of me, but Im enjoying them. Even as much as they fight and disrrupt my class every 5 seconds, they are still just kids. Some of which have already had some hard times and situations come about in their lives. Im here to help where I can, and in any way that I can.
I have learned patience here; to work within a system I dont always understand. For example, even when the line is going out the door, and they cant seem to have one otherdarn cashier, Vallenar is quaint in its simplicity. Im learning to find enjoyment and laugh at some of the things that drive me crazy. People here are always willing to help, and when they notice you are sad, they dont ignore it. There are so many great lessons to learn here, in a culture that is so foreign, yet with some outstanding qualities.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oh where to begin?

so since i have been so preoccupied with the whole learning spanish and trying to teach in a different country, ive been horrible at updating! i really should make time to sit down and think through everything. so im going to back track a bit...or more than a bit...

lets start with my kittens (mis gatitos). i think it was about the second or third week here. they were stranded outside near my house and everyone heard them crying throughout the morning. i asked my family about them, but as they know they cant save every animal (or people just dont want to) they told me to let it go. well when i walked outside and looked at them, i just couldnt. despite my allergy, i picked them up and took them to a friend´s house. we tried to feed them some milk with a pipette and clean out one infected eye a bit. I took them to the vet the next day (after a day of classes) and he said they were only about 20 days old. He told me to buy a special milk powder and a medication. I was to feed them every 4 hours and give the medication every 12. I wanted to cry at that point! I was having such an overwhelming time with all the classes that an additional responsibility seemed unbearable, but no one else would do it. There is no animal shelter here, and only special groups help out animals in different parts of the country. anyway, we looked everywhere for the special milk but they only had it for dogs. i would have to order it and who knew how long that would take. the vet said i could mix water and milk together but to try and get the other milk. i just didnt have any more time to spend walking around looking for it. so for the next week, i woke up during the night for feedings, made sure they had their medication, and my family helped out during the day when i was at school. we all became attached to the little guys. since it was around st. patrick´s day, i named them shamrock and clover. unfortunately, they both died about 12 hours apart that weekend. i cried my eyes out. when i saw the vet, he told me it was nearly impossible for them to survive without the mom. thanks for the heads up! after that, i was sick and out of school for a week....

on to other things. school is going much better, but i am still overwhelmed and feeling defeated often. some days are great and i feel the students are moving along, and other days i feel i am starting over. i am gaining some attention and respect of my little ones in the poor/difficult school, but im fighting a battle, along with every other teacher there, that seems to have no victory in sight. these students are DIFFICULT to work with, and some days nearly impossible. today, for example, i actually had to leave my first grade classroom for a few minutes and cry on the shoulder of a colleague. she comforted me and told me she understood. it was so nice to not have someone throw worthless advice at me for once. this class i fear going to every time. there are two students with low intelligence i believe, one who is extremely bright but loves to bother and hit other kids, two other boys who are constantly hitting each other and bothering others, and of course the normal variation of learning abilities in one class. i dont have a list of students who are in integration or have ____ type of issues. so much is by word of mouth or if i can grab a special ed teacher long enough to ask about a few students specifically. this information is not offered up freely, and i need it! in this first grade class for example, i cant maintain enough discipline and attention for more than 5 minutes sometimes without nicolas punching brian, or juan needing to ask a question, or giselle constantly commenting about random things, or cesar playing with a toy, or maria jose taking other students pencils and markers, or little mauricio (who has god knows what issues) coming up front and tugging on my sleeve about some problem or question....get the idea? and this is just one class! today i had kids crying in the corner from someone hitting them; i chased two boys around the school to keep them from strangling one another; and one boy who is such a nuisance i made him stay inside with me for a few minutes during recess, and he was bawling, so i literally grabbed him and hugged him until he relaxed. half of one class had to leave for about 10 minutes because they didnt get their snack during recess and i was not going to have them sit in class and cry about being hungry. im doing my best, sometimes it would be easier to just stop, but somewhere along the way people offer a kind word or advice.

i have countless stories like this, but im learning everyday to do what i can, make a difference somewhere, and try and keep a smile on my face. i do see changes in some students. mainly the ones who caused me so much pain initially, i have worked so hard to get through, that now they help me in class, say hi and hug me when they see me, and they are working in class more. its amazing! if you saw how they acted just a few weeks before!

im going to start some small group classes at a high school, and then 1 or two private classes. im a little overworked right now, but the money will help and i want to do as much as a can. i just need to know when to rest. sometimes, i realize i didnt eat anything, or dont really have the time to sit down. but i would not trade this experience for anything. you just have to hear me talk in spanish now!!!