Uh… so yeah.

Buenas Noticias! (Good news!)
Lots has been going on. First and foremost, I have moved to a new host family. Thank goodness. My last host family was a little rough. In that they never talked to me. Except to tell me that I was hanging up my laundry wrong, and making my tea wrong, and just generally failing at life. But now I live with a very nice lady who likes to embroider and actually has friends, and talks to me, and doesn’t critique my life choices (more than any other person here) and is in general, cool. I live in a house that isn’t claustrophobic, a room that isn’t 15° hotter than the rest of the house, a room I can actually stretch my arms out without hitting the walls, and … we have internet! Wowza. Posh Corps indeed.

aprovechar (to make the most of)
I propose to use the internet I’ve been blessed with to… work on the third goal of the Peace Corps, namely letting people back home know about what life is like here in Colombia. And to look up silly cat videos on youtube ideas for lesson plans. And stuff.

exito (success! or the Colombia version of Walmart)
At last update, I had just started co-planning with my co-teachers. I am happy to report that things are going well in the morning. The 11th grade class is pretty on top of things. And super adorable. They like me (I think). There are also some 10th graders who are on top of things, but life is pretty tough if you’re 15 and you’ve been going to the same school since kindergarten. At least the 11th graders get to pretty much escape in April after the ICFES. I’m thinking they might like to put on a drama in English… hmmmmm. Some big, elaborate, fun project will be thought up. haha! You thought you were done with school but now you are completely subject to my whims! Make me a play! or a mural! or a cupcake!
ahem. I’ve been teaching some lessons, we’ve been planning together, things are going well but still rather disorganized. That’s alright. We don’t need a textbook. Or a curriculum. I mean, we really don’t. But it might be a good thing to think about having.
The afternoon is a completely different story. I had been observing one teacher, who spent the entire month telling me about how he was going to move schools “probably next week.” And then not moving schools. It’s not his fault, though. Here, teacher placements are somehow controlled by the district secretary of education, who has to approve teacher transfers and all that, but it kind of takes awhile. So, teachers don’t have, say, a year’s contract with a particular school. The district secretary hires them and then places them, and they could possibly move in the middle of a school year. Completely normal. And if they know they are moving in the immediate future, well, there’s no sense in getting too attached to your Peace Corps volunteer.
But now I have a new afternoon teacher to work with, who is really cool. We’re still trying to figure what we’re going to do with those 11th graders though. Class is canceled a lot in the afternoon. For instance, by the time I come back to school in mid April, I’ll have not seen one of the 11th grade classes but for an hour in an entire month. <— None of my students could construct a sentence like that. I think it’s right though. Grammar isn’t really my strong point. Sorry students who were hoping to learn grammar rules.

el oboe (the oboe)
Sample conversation (usually held in Spanish but translated to English for your English-reading pleasure) “What did you study?” “Music and French” “Oh, you do you sing?” or more frequently “Sing us a song!” “No, you don’t understand, I studied playing an instrument (“touching” an instrument in Spanish. Spanish is weird.) I can sing, but only about as much as anyone else can sing (this part never comes out right in Spanish)” “Oh, what instrument do you play?” “el oboe…” …. blank stare…. “huh.”
Therefore, I played oboe in my living room tonight for my new host mom, her friend, and her friend’s 12 year old. With the door open. It’s been way too long since I’ve played for people. I was all like shakeshakeshake!shakelikealeaf! and some random small child wandered in our front door to listen a bit, and then wandered out again. “And that, my friends, is un oboe.” “I didn’t know!” “I also didn’t know!” “I did, I saw it on Spongebob once” (that was the 12 year old).
So that was my adventure for the day. Besides the adventure of living in Colombia and speaking Spanish all the time.

lo que me gusta de Colombia (What I like about Colombia)
intro: I’ve been teaching the 11th graders about likes and dislikes. I think it’s an important conversational tool. I only wish I know more words than me gusta and no me gusta, but they do serve me well. And frequently do I employ them. My old host dad in Barranquilla would make fun of me by pointing at random objects and saying “me gusta!” with a giant thumbs up.  (I should visit them while I’m in BAQ this week. Hello! How are you! Can I use the oven to bake cookies? You can have some too, I guess [scratch that. Hello! How are you! I miss you! hughughug. mucho mejor]).
Anyways. What I like about Colombia. Even in a hyper machismo culture, every man knows how to dance salsa, as well as many other dances. And this is perfectly normal. A mark of manliness.  I always wondered why it was somewhat culturally inappropriate for a man to like dancing in America. I mean, go to dance class, hang out with a lot of girls, touch girls on the shoulder and waist, possibly hold hands. Maybe it’s intimidating. I don’t know. I’m glad people dance here. I like it. I have thus far refused to go out and learn how to salsa dance. It’s a problem. I want to, but all salsa dancing takes place after 10ish at night, and really, I just like sleeping too much. It’ll happen someday.

el futuro (the future)
All of next week I’m going to be in good old Barranquilla for a inservice training. We’ll have meetings, and learn Spanish, and hang out in a hotel with air conditioning and hot showers and internet and all the other Peace Corps volunteers in Colombia. (There’s only twenty some of us, but more are coming in the not-too-distant future {but they’ll just be trainees for quite a while after that anyways.})
The next next week is Semana Santa, Holy Week. I plan to take a stay-cation here in Cartagena, after spending a whole week in the big city. Emily’s coming and Jessica too? and another person I don’t know? It should be fun.

Alright, enough. Mostly I just wanted to make an appearance and let ya’ll (ya’ll! Sometimes I pretend to be from Georgia) know that I’m alive. Somehow I just can’t help writing a rambling, 1200 word possibly incoherant blogpost. oh well. chao!

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3 responses »

  1. So good to hear from you! Sounds like things are settling in for you. I am really, really glad you have a new housing situation! Makes all the difference. Love you!

  2. So good to hear from you! I am really, really glad you have a new housing situation. Can’t wait to see your face on Skype! Love you!

  3. Alaina says:

    Abby, I am so happy for you! Sounds like a blessing in disguise. Still praying God uses you in a mighty way with everyone you meet.

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