Schools vs. Escuelas, pt. I

I give you three stories.

One Friday in mid-January, things were going as usual at the elementary school where I teach, Joaquin Chiriboga.  That is, until recess (recreo).  I did what I normally do at the beginning of each recreo: visited the snack lady, who has a permanent posting in the school courtyard where she sells things as delicious as 10 cent choco-bananas, 15 cent bags of chifles (fried plantain chips), 10 cent fruit cups (pineapple or watermelon, or, if you’re feeling crazy, mixed), and 40 cent plates of rice and meat- all of it very freshly prepared.  Once I had my fruit cup in hand, I made my way to a bench where the teachers normally sit and enjoy their free time.  Kids swarmed around me and asked me questions about my life at home and how to say random words in English (this usually happens), but the teachers were nowhere to be seen.  After about five minutes of being the only teacher in the courtyard, I decided to find out what they were doing.  I made my way to the office, where a meeting was taking place.  They invited me in, and for the next ten minutes, I listened to some boring details about changes in the way the finances would be handled.

Then, things took a turn.  Just at about the time recess was supposed to end, one of the teachers said “Well, today is a very special day.  It’s the 70th birthday of our coworker Manuelito [again with the ‘ito’ thing]!!”  We all clapped and then began singing Happy Birthday.  Then, a cake appeared, along with cups of coke.  About thirty minutes later, the dancing began.  Thirty minutes after that, one of the teachers left school with an empty box and returned with a box full of bottles of beer, and it just went downhill from there.  Basically, the students were left unsupervised for 2.5 hours, they had no more classes that day, and the teachers all got buzzed before noon- in the principal’s office (he was partaking in the festivities too!).

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Qué bonita es Carnaval!

It is Tuesday, the last day of Carnaval break.  I thought I would take the opportunity to write about the event that Carnaval has been!

Carnaval festivities began my first day back at school here in Ecuador.  I diligently planned my lessons for each of my four classes the evening before, but lo and behold, Friday when I arrived at Joaquin Chiriboga, I was told that there would be no classes.  Instead, we would be having an all-day Niña Carnaval Pageant.  The parade was just over a week away, and deciding which little girl would get to sit atop the school float and wave was serious business.

The girls spent a good three hours preparing.  It’s times like this when I am so thankful that I’ve taken up knitting.  I always carry my yarn and needles in my purse, so that in moments (or, in this case, hours) of what could be boredom, I knit away the minutes.  Finally, the program began.  After about an hour of very made-up 5-6 year-olds dancing, modeling various outfits, and strutting down the cat walk, we had our Carnaval Girl.

And the winner was the adorable Tatiana!

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UNI (Uh, No I will-not-teach-there??!!!?? [or maybe I will]) Overseas Teaching Fair

I’m writing from the reclined seat of my second flight of the day, the Dallas Fort Worth to Miami International leg.  My week at home flew by, just like I knew it would, but it was definitely a wonderful, life-changing trip!

Life-changing?  I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true.  Although any excuse to go home would have been nice, the reason I carved this trip out of my schedule months back was because I needed to attend the UNI Overseas Teaching Fair.  In order to, you know, have a paid teaching job next school year while continuing to have the opportunity to live overseas.  I’ll get to the fair in a minute, but first I want to reflect upon the weeks leading up to the fair.

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