First Day on the New Job

In order of occurrence:

  1. Woke up at 5:45
  2. Put on tights, a skirt, a long sleeved shirt with a wool cardigan and jacket, knowing that Reyna, my host mother, would tell me I needed to change.  She often does this.
  3. Reyna told me I would be too cold, but I told her my tights were thick and that I’d be fine.  She said, “Okay, but no complay a me when you are frio.”
  4. Around 6:30, I entered a van with Reyna that was headed toward the school that I was going to teach at, a high school in Pulingue.  15 people crammed into an 11 person van… ridiculously typical.
  5. At 7:30, I was introduced by Reyna (host mother and host English teacher… really hoping that having to live under her roof and teach with her will not be a problem) to our first class, about fifteen thirteen year-olds.  Then I sat through and helped with the class, with Reyna doing most of the teaching.  She mostly read (had me read) passages from the book in phrases, then had the students repeat the phrases, sometimes up to three times.  They had no idea what they were reading.  Their level of English is very low, and I kind of want to just forget the textbook and start at square one, but I don’t think that I can do that… much work ahead, though, if I’m wanting to actually teach these children (and, yes I do!)  Really hoping that Reyna is open to some changes in the structure of the class and methodology, but I’m not going to try to change everything.
  6. At around 9:30, there was an assembly.  I guess there’s one every Monday.  I was told to sit in front of the student body, on the stage.  When the assembly began, the students and teachers sang two songs: the school song and Ecuador’s national anthem.  Of course I knew neither, and of course all eyes were on me.  I nervously mouthed “watermelon, watermelon…”
  7. At around 9:40, the headmaster gave a nice speech in broken English thanking me for being there.  After his speech, I was asked to speak as well.  It’s the stuff of nightmares: unplanned public speaking in another language in front of a body of students and teachers on whom you are hoping to make a good impression.  I will translate the way my speech probably came out: “Wow, I am nervous because it is not normal for me to speak in front of a large group in Spanish.  I am sorry if I am bad at Spanish.  I am very excited to be here with you.  I hope that I can teach much English and learn much Spanish during the next six months.  Thank you for accepting me on your school.  I think your country is beautiful.  I am here for six days and everyone is…were?… been very nice.  Thank you!”  Goodness.
  8. After the assembly, there was a coffee break in my honor.  It was very nice.  All the teachers gathered in a conference room while the students got extra playing time and we drank jugo de tamate (not normal tomato juice- it’s a little bit sweet) and hot chocolate and ate sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs.  The teachers are great, very welcoming.
  9. During the coffee break, the headmaster started talking to me about when I arrive at the school and when I leave.  I’m nodding my head and understanding, but then he says something about 6:00 pm and I say “No te endiendo.”  (I’m not understanding you)  Then, with some of his English and some probing, I figured out that he was confirming that I was going to be able to teach taxi drivers for five weeks.  Each group of taxi drivers (taxistas) needing a week of classes (2 hours per class, 2 classes a week), beginning next week.  This was the first I had heard of this and I still need to discuss it with Reyna… he mentioned “economico,” so I’m not sure if maybe the taxistas are going to pay him and perhaps those wages will go toward feeding me and transporting me to his school (he paid for my lunch out of his pocket) or if I’d be getting money.  On this adventure, so much is just go with the flow.  I nodded and said, “Okay, yo puedo!”
  10. It dawned on me that Reyna was right.  It was freezing in Pulingue.  It’s higher in altitude than Riobamba and there is no heat in the buildings.  Tomorrow, I will definitely wear “pantalones,” not a skirt.  Teachers were giving me their jackets and gloves for the day… hahaha.
  11. After having a total of five classes, the students left and I went with seven teachers to a house nearby for lunch.  The teachers were very kind to speak slowly and try and make the conversation interesting for me, asking me about Kansas, telling me about things to do in Ecuador, and even asking me about my religion.  Haha!  I think I’m going to get along very well with them.  They were very fun and friendly.  Lunch was great, too 🙂  So far, I really haven’t had anything that I don’t like, food wise.  Except… the coffee here is all instant.  Very sad.
  12. After lunch, I asked the headmaster if I was supposed to teach the teachers English too, and when.  He said yes and that we could start now.  We walked back to the school and all the teachers entered a classroom and then it was all me.  I had been told that today would just be me observing the classes and meeting the students, but whatever.  I taught greetings, common introductory conversational questions, and words of departure.  Communicating with a room full of Spanish-speaking teachers in my less than perfect Spanish… you can imagine all of the corrections I received.  After almost an hour of class (I wasn’t sure how long I was supposed to teach), the teachers were signaling for me to stop.  They were experiencing the brain pain that I know so well.  I will be teaching them every day, which means I have (including the taxistas and a young girl I teach from the house) 9 preps, not including my two days in Guamote… holy cow.  Why am I blogging right now?  I should be lesson planning.  Ay.
  13. After the English lesson, Reyna brought me back to our room where we practiced the school song (she found some lyrics for me- hallelujah!)
  14. At about 3:15, seven people crammed into the headmaster’s five person truck (I scored the non-seat that’s in between the driver’s and passenger’s seats, practically on top of the gear stick.  The way I was sitting, trying to lean more on Reyna than the headmaster, led to the most intense sleep my leg has ever experienced.  After about 45 minutes in this position, I got out of the car and my left leg was like jelly.  I kind of collapsed… the teachers looked at me in a worried way.  I laughed and pointed to my gummy leg.  Reyna gave me a pen and told me to put it behind my left ear, that that would help… again, going with the flow, I did.

What a first day!  Glad I now have an idea of what I’ve gotten myself into 🙂

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One thought on “First Day on the New Job

  1. Your feelings of constant confusion and awkwardness are how I feel about trying to talk to Israel’s family! Hope it gets easier soon girl. Love you!!

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