Saturday, October 30, 2010

Being Trained

I am well on my way to finishing up my TESOL certification.  I mainly just have to do an one-on-one lesson with someone in Fortuna, which should not be too difficult.  A few people have asked me to help them with their English, so they should be willing to take the time.

Yesterday I team taught with another of the teachers here and it went really well.  I was pretty nervous beforehand between teaching with someone I don't know that well and teaching adults for the first time. However, once I started teaching, I felt so confident.  The prep work we had done really paid off and while we certainly made mistakes, none were glaringly obvious and they are all very fixable.

While I have a lot of work to do to become the teacher I can be, yesterday was such a ray of hope.  I understand why so many teachers end up burned out with the day to day struggle of teaching and those lessons where it just works are how I survive and even thrive.  I can take the successes of this week back to La Fortuna for my final month and then on into the future as I continue teaching.

My week was unexciting other than teaching.  I watched some of the World Series, failed to find a way to watch the Celtics-Heat game and other than that just hung out when I wasn't working on stuff for TEFL.  I head back to La Fortuna tomorrow and am there until Thanksgiving.  Then I go back to where this all started in Orosi where we had orientation in January for our final goodbye before my last week.  A week later I fly back to the US.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I'll have a real post up in the next couple of days, but please go read this post by John Scalzi.  I thought about doing my own list, but since in so many ways John Scalzi and I are similar in what we don't have to think about, just go read what he wrote. Also a bonus is that many of the comments are excellent, too.

The only one I would add is the following.

I don't have to think about how to keep a roof over my head or my family's head or how to feed myself or my family when my current job ends,

but today I will.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Culture Day

This past Tuesday was Culture Day at school. There are all sorts of days here such as day of the arts and day of the tree. To celebrate Culture Day, the teachers split into three groups with each in charge of a country: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and the US. Each group prepared a performance, some food and some decorations about each country.

This was probably my favorite one of these civic days so far this year. Independence Day was interesting, but yesterday was much shorter and sweeter. I was put with the group for the US, obviously. I was told I needed to show up in traditional dress for the US. Needless to say, I was stumped by that request. Not only do I only have the regular clothes I brought from the US and I packed light, but what would I have worn? Thankfully in the end it did not matter. I wore normal clothes and no one seemed to mind.

The performance for the US was a country dance sung. Being from Boston I'm certainly no expert on country music or dancing to it, but I thought the two teachers and two students did an excellent job of it. I don't know what country song they danced to, but it was very representative with good lines about hanging out by the river in Georgia somewhere. The dancers all wore cowboy boots and hats and all around it was really good.

Another performance (I think Nicaraguan but I missed the opening explanation) was a fascinating dance/drama where a boy and girl dressed nicely danced together. Then the boy split off, and one by one 4 other students came out dressed as vagabonds with dirty clothes. The girl continued dancing in the middle and from the side the vagabonds came out dancing with her one by one.

Each of the vagabonds had a different temptation. The first had money, the second alcohol, the third cigarettes, and the fourth a knife. She rejected all the temptations and then the boy came back and they together fought off the vagabonds.

All in all a good message. It was really interesting how the younger students enjoyed it because of the slapstick humor involved, while the older students laughed some but also understood what was being said. Hopefully they took it to heart as they go onto high school.

Then a small skit with a teacher narrating was performed in remembrance of the landing of Columbus in 1502 on the coast of what would become Costa Rica. While a little bit of the noble savage stereotype came out, it was certainly a better description of both the negatives and positives than I learned at the same age, which was good. Maybe too many positives, but it was at least not a celebration of Columbus "discovering" the New World.

After that I served the hot dogs and soda which were the US foods. The Nicaraguan food was a figurón, which is a yucca and meat dish. The Costa Rican food was rice pudding, chicken and rice, and empanadas. A good day was had and it was a lot of fun and hopefully the students learned something about all 3 countries and to respect and appreciate the differences.

The only annoyance was the students dressed in indigenous clothing making the standard "Indian war cries," which I did my best to put an end to. Some listened, some did not, but other than that, the day was pretty good.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Couple of things

So I asked my friend about how to say awkward in Spanish and he said "raro" is the word. Depends on the context because it can also mean weird, but yeah, I might be saying que raro a lot more often.   That is definitely one thing I am going to miss when I leave here. The ability to ask people about various things in Spanish and just speaking Spanish in general.

I am going to have to figure out how to keep my Spanish up when I get back to Boston.  I don't want to lose my Spanish. Well, hopefully I can find some people to speak with, maybe I'll just make time to call my Costa Rican friends and work to stay in touch with them.

In other news, teaching about animals and plants is so much easier in English than the human body or energy and matter.  The kids find it more interesting and they already know a lot of words, like for photosynthesis they knew sunlight, air, water, and oxygen, so it was pretty easy to explain.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

2 months

I have just about 2 months left here in Costa Rica.  At times it feels like I'll be leaving too soon and there's so much more I still want to do here.  Other times, two months seems like it will last forever.  My main focus for the next couple of months is to make sure that my teaching is as good as it can be.  As the year winds down, I end up not teaching nearly as much as I expect.

As I've started to find my feet here, its slowly becoming more frustrating that I don't actually teach my students.  I'm working on taking each class individually and not letting a given canceled class or bad class throw me off.  I need to remember the moments when my students understand me exactly, not only when they are hopelessly lost and I'm teaching in Spanish.

In other news, I did get sick yesterday and missed a class.  Very frustrating. The silver lining is this is only the second time I've gotten sick and the last time happened 4 months ago.  Knock on wood I'll be healthy the rest of my time here, since I really can't afford to miss any more classes, given that I'm missing the last week of October to finish my TESOL certification.

Other than that, October has been playing games with my head by not raining, but I'm still waiting.  This is supposed to be the rainy season.  I just hope I find the time to run every day.  Tomorrow I hope to wake up early and run, because it rarely rains in the morning here.