WOW I cannot believe it has accidentally been so long since my last post. I feel like I've sort of gotten into a groove here, and at the end of each day it doesn't necessarily feel like there's tons of news to report, so I thought I'd save up a few days. Now it has magically been almost a week. Whoops! I guess also, having gotten more comfortable here, a lot of the day-to-day news is interpersonal relationship-oriented, still with fun new exploring and revelations sprinkled in here and there, and more general feelings of contentment.
So let's see, last Wednesday I taught my first English workshop at Barrio, Thursday I helped Alejandro with breakfast and went to the Medio Ambiente meeting and then pretty much lolled around all day trying to recover from multiple early mornings, and Friday I worked the first shift and headed back to Barrio Activo. The weekend was good, too, kind of chill, but also a lot of being out and about which I liked. We stayed in Friday night as we were all super exhausted (and lame, I know, I'm sorry), but it was actually super great hanging out with Linet and Joey. Saturday I went to the tiangis with Hayley to buy breakfast eggs, tortillas, cheese, and also some delicious aguas and cornbread for our breakfast. A little later we headed back out to go to Pride, which was my first one, and therefore pretty great. There were some moments where I was pretty caught up in the complete, unbridled joy being expressed, and also moments that gave me goosebumps with their sadness and profundity. A group chanting, "Queremos ser papás. Queremos ser mamás." A lot about respect and love and non-discrimination, inclusiveness.
Next Hayley and I made our way to the metro to get to a park where the Day of the Refugee was being celebrated with lots of different kinds of performances. We got there in time to see some capoera, which was super cool, and then for the play put on by the refugees who take spanish classes at the Casa. So that was cool. We got back in time for me to make some quick dinner and grab a shower before it was my turn to work the third shift. Third shifts are generally boring and/or include a lot of creepers going in and out of the Casa, either for the English chat on Fridays or just in general because they like to harass white girls working at the desk when no one else is around. Lucky for me though, mine only had one creeper who I successfully got rid of pretty quickly (I am a huge a badass), and lots of friends coming to hang out with me. So the time passed pretty quickly, but I still really really prefer first shift. It sucks getting out of bed, but then I really like being in the center of the action, feeling like there's a reason I'm behind the desk, welcoming people, getting to see my friends go off to work, exchanging good-morning greetings and besos with the cleaning ladies and with my favorite guests. Ugh it's so sad when long-term guests leave. Even when someone's just here for a week or so, you get used to having them around, and it feels weird when you can't see them anymore.
Anyway, Saturday night Linet and Gilbert (Lydia's bro) went out on our own to try and find this random party Liselot was going to. We actually found it pretty easily, although it didn't really feel like the safest place in town. By the time we got in, it was still pretty lame. The night got a little more exciting though when a couple of the guys who seemed to be hosting decided that Gilbert looked to young or too white or too male (or all three) and asked him for ID. Basically, it was okay for a while, but then he came back and asked Linet and me if we spoke Spanish (G-money doesn't), and started giving us all this bullshit about a photocopied ID not being good enough (which is completely ridiculous - lots of Americans don't carry around their real ID in case you get robbed). I thought it best to bring Liselot over (being the most fluent and the most adult and grown-up looking of the three of us), and whatever, the guys were just worried that if they got raided by the cops and it looked like they were serving alcohol to an underage white American guy they would get in trouble. It sounded like a bunch of bullshit to me, and I was actually pretty pissed because it was clear that, even though I think Linet and I look pretty young, too, they weren't giving us any trouble because they apparently see young white women as an asset to the party, while young white guys are not.
Anyway, it really wasn't that big of a deal, and they were finally satisfied when they realized that G-money's birthday was on his ID, and whatever. We stayed and hung out for a little while longer, and it was actually really great in a way. Linet and Gilberto and I found ourselves having a big conversation about our siblings. There seem to be some similarities between the relationship between Gilbert and Lydia and the one between Ryland and me. Two very different siblings, who have had a close relationship but are still in the process of figuring out how to relate to each other as young adults who aren't quite ready to be friends, but still have a long history together. Anyway, so that was cool. We soon decided to leave because, whatever, it was just kind of lame, and embarked on the adventure of hailing a cab that would be the right kind of cab - ID on the window, meter in the front. We must have flagged down eight or nine before G-money found one to his satisfaction, which I was totally fine with. He pretty much handled the hailing and the waving away when it didn't meet his/our requirements, but we finally all piled into the back of one that would take us safely to la Condeza, a more European and middle to upper-middle class part of town with a lot of bars and cafés.
Oh my gosh, so I'm just realizing that I've accidentally gotten really deep into describing the details of this night, which ironic because it's not even that interesting or important. So ANYWAY, trying to wrap up, we hung out for another couple of hours at a pretty cool bar, and it was funsies. We got home safely, exchanged some goodnight hugs, and went to bed for some much-needed sleep. Sunday I woke up to go to an artisan market called something like la Ciudadela with Lydia, G-money, and Linetskies, and that was pretty cool. We walked around for a while looking at awesome brightly colored stuff, then headed back to the Casa before going back out for lunch in the Roma. Lydia and Gilberto and I made the adventure in the rain, achieving some success at sharing one umbrella between the three of us. HA. We got home around 5:30 and I was beat, so I lounged around with Linet for a while, avoiding the overwhelming potluck that I seem to not participate in super often. Had a really great conversation with William, a grad student who's with us for 5 weeks to find a topic for his dissertation in art history at COLUMBIA (no big deal). He's just the nicest guy ever, really buena honda (which just means like, you get a really good vibe from someone, you can tell they're legit). Ooo, and this takes me back to filling you all in on the really more interesting Wednesday through Friday of my week last week.
So Wednesday, like I said, I worked the first shift, then grabbed some lunch before heading out to Barrio Activo. I will also share that I received a super nice mensaje from a friend wishing me lots of suerte in my first English class there. Yum. Anyway, so I was pretty nervous beforehand, just feeling like I hadn't planned enough. But also feeling like I really couldn't ever plan perfectly because I had no idea the proficiency level I would encounter when I got there. So 8 or 9 kids came, and we started off introducing ourselves, first in English, then in Spanish. Over the course of the lesson, I learned that all except one of the students (my friend Lessli) really needed and wanted to start at the very beginning with letters and numbers. So we worked on the alphabet song and things like that. It ended pretty well, I think, and Pati and Erick said it was great, and I was just excited that I got through the whole lesson in Spanish (I'm introducing more English phrases as we go on).
Got home to find Linet working reception. This is always a fun surprise, because I super do not keep track of anyone else's schedule. So we hung out for a while, and William and some friends came back from the pyramids, and he stuck around to hang out. Which was awesome, because it was the first time we had really talked to him, and he's awesome. It turned out he'd been looking for a guitar, and couldn't find either of the two that the Casa has because a) the Christians had left one in the sala de conferencias, and b) I had stolen one and was keeping it in my room. WHOOPS. I found him a little later in the guest lounge, and brought out the guitar to him saying, "I'm so sorry! Is there any way I can make it up to you?" He replied that I could by playing him a song, to which I finally agreed after enjoying him playing for a while. This was pretty cool, and also the fastest I've ever played for somebody after meeting them. He was really positive and affirming, and it was generally an awesome experience. A bunch of us hung out for a while, before Molly and Linet and I decided we needed to make french fries, then watch TV, then go to bed.
Thursday really not much happened during the day, although around midnight or so I saw one of my favorite guests for the first time in what seemed like a while, so it was super great to see him and catch up a little bit. Friday was pretty pretty great. I worked first turn, which was inSANE but awesome. My Columbian friend came to hang out with me a little bit before he headed off to search out a place to stay (Sin Fronteras was paying for him to stay at the Casa until Friday morning), so that was super nice. A little while after my shift ended, Joey and Brenda and I went to get the microbus to la Pastora (the neighborhood where BA is). I was honestly still planning out my lesson (I have to get better at thinking ahead), but it actually went SO WELL. Here's the thing. I was nervous that a ton of new people ere going to show up, because they announced the English classes at the basketball game on Wednesday and a ton of kids swarmed around me asking how to say random words and their names in English. ("Como se dice Cristofer?" "Christopher." "Como se dice Raúl?" "Um, Raul" and lots of other cute things. That was actually super fun on Wednesday, I forgot to say that - we went to see basketball after my English class, and introduced ourselves at the end, and I ended up hanging out with a bunch of different kids who all came over to me asking questions about EVERYTHING. Oh, I loved it and them.)
Anyway, the same 6 kids showed up from before, plus a new student who I knew from the guitar workshop. Lessli was busy doing other summer planning, which was actually good I think. I felt bad for her on Wednesday because she really does already know all the stuff that the other kids need to start with, so I told her we could meet before or after the class to just have a conversation in English to help her practice. Yay. Anyway, the the kids all showed up early! Which was scary at first, but then we just hung out while I got the space ready for our lesson. We started off introducing ourselves again (I think we'll do that every class - provides a practical purpose for the English they're learning, and I think they need it to be comfortable. Then we reviewed the alphabet - I asked people to tell me it line by line (about 5 letters at a time). I just keep thinking about my Ed class last semester, and how I'm sure I'm not integrating enough things all at once, or I'm missing something... but honestly I feel like I'm doing pretty well for my first run through. I know pretty much which students are struggling the most, and I tried to integrate them into the lesson - although by the end I really just had to let one little boy slide. He's the youngest, and I think was just overwhelmed by all the info.
Anyway, I was really excited because I made the kids laugh with jokes and here and there. AND even better, I told them pretty early on in the lesson to correct me if I made mistakes in Spanish, explaining that I was still learning the language. At this, my twelve-year-old friend named Alexha said in Spanish, "It will be like you're teaching us and we're teaching you!" Exactly. I'm really happy about this, because I don't ever want them to feel like I'm telling them that English is more valuable than their native language, or that I'm in any way better than them because I'm American and speak English. So I felt really good that they seemed to get that. Yay. So we continued with singing the alphabet song a few times through, practicing the English "arrrrr" sound (we pretend to be pirates) and the weird "thhh" sound necessary for some of them to say that they are thhhhirteen years old. We moved on to numbers, and I was delighted to find that they wanted to move beyond the 1 through 10 we learned last time, and go all the way to 20. Next time I think I'm going to explain about the pattern for 20 through 100, so we'll get all the way to 100. WOW. After we all took notes on the how to spell the numbers (I remembered to be clearer this time that they should write down what I write on the board), I asked them to tell me how many there were of a given object in the room. My favorite moment was when I put a handful of markers on the table, and they all dived to count them in rapid Spanish before looking up at the board to figure out how to say that number in English.
I try to integrate other rules of thumb around this basic material. I worry though, because I don't want to be throwing out random information. I'm the kind of learner who needs things to be organized and presented in a logical way, so I'm really sensitive about not trying to jump around too much.
Speaking of not jumping around, this entry totally got interrupted (in the most pleasant way, of course) by my fave Hayley. We ended up talking for a while, then she headed off to the gym while I went dowstairs to check in with Linet (who had had a great day at CAM and had bought an extra muffin, just in case I wanted one. Which was good, because I did. And I love her) and play around in reception for a while. Then I headed back upstairs to get a sunburn and play some tunes on the roofy roof. Came down in time to Skype my mom and my Cope before running off to our weekly meeting in like a pretty gross state. Ran for a shower (I feel like I’m always saying that) before I got a big group together to get din dins out. Gorditas (literally means little fat things, likely because this dish is based on fried dough and meat and cheese) and caldo and a sope (split between me and my roomie), and cozy post-rain noms in the dining room with a bunch of the volunteers and our new best friend William.
Anyway, I’ma post this, and write the next entry about today and further thoughts on pedagogy (YAY) in the attempt to keep this all in some sort of order. Hurray and love to all,