Week 1: Check!

Wait…today is Friday? I’ve been in my school for a week already?? Holy. Cow.

Time SERIOUSLY flies when you’re having fun!!!

Monday’s 5am alarm came very, very early. We (my host mom is a teacher and my brother attends my school) have to leave by 6:10am to get to school on time. School starts at 7am (teachers have to be there at 6:55am). The first hour was spent trying to figure out where I was supposed to be and where my supervising teacher was. Then, I sat through 6th and 7th grade science classes. I understood everything that was going on, but like I’ve gotten in the habit of saying down here, “Entiendo español, pero no puedo hablar bien” (I understand Spanish, but I can’t speak it well). Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE science – but trying to teach it in a foreign language had me feeling slightly uneasy after my first day. I loved the school, my supervising teacher and all my students immediately! I got to watch Maleficent, the play put on by students too!

Tuesday morning when I got to school, there were three charter-like buses waiting in the parking lot. I couldn’t find my supervising teacher and then all of a sudden she pulls into the parking lot, rolls her window down and tells me to get a on a bus because we are going to El Museo del Agua (the Water Museum). The museum is nearly 10,000 feet up and all the walls are made of glass….what a view! You could see El Penecillo and La Basilica. On this day, I learned Ecuador is considered a mega-diversity country just like the United States, BUT it’s only about the size of Nevada. I also learned that 8th grade boys are a lot to handle (especially when you don’t speak their language). 

Wednesday I got to go on a hike!! The gym teachers have been searching for a trail to take the students on (all 1200 of them) and have been testing some out the last few weeks. They invited me to tag along for this one! I WAS IN HEAVEN (and not because we drove straight up a mountain and then started climbing up higher) but because every few minutes, we’d come across another waterfall! I wanted to take pictures of literally everything, but I was walking with the guys who 1. walk very fast (I basically jogged the whole 2.5 hour hike) and 2. could care less about pictures. However, La Cascada Condor Machay (cascada means waterfall) was the most beautiful waterfall I think I’ve ever seen. Last summer on Sarah and I’s trip out west, the goal of most of the trails was to lead to a waterfall and there were a lot of people there (stupid us for going to National Parks on their 100 year celebration during summer) but I was still so amazed. Then, I take this hike and we only saw 2 other people the whole time besides our group. When I got back to school, my host mom asked how it went and I simply replied, “Estoy enamorada de Ecuador” (“I’m in love with Ecuador” – and it’s so true!) 

Thursday I fell asleep on the way to school (for the 3rd time this week) and then spent the first hour of the day trying to find my new teacher. My host mom and I talked with the school and I was able to get switched to an English teacher! Here, English is like a special so the students have it a couple times a week – except high school who has it every day. My new supervising teacher has 4th, 5th, 6th and the first year of high school classes. I LOVED IT!!! He immediately had me helping in class because he wanted the students to hear my pronunciation. I knew at this moment, that the next few months were going to fly by because I cannot believe how much I enjoy teaching English as a Foreign Language.

Friday, today, I didn’t fall asleep on the way to school because my host mom and I were too busy laughing at my host brother who had his head phones in and was singing loudly all the way to school (if you’ve heard me sing, he’s comparable). I went to my first 4th grade class and then to my second. We had an assembly for a poem contest during the second class and here, if you are teaching a class during an assembly, you take them to the assembly. No problem, right? Wrong. My supervising teacher had to go to a doctor appointment so next thing I know, I’m taking 40 4th graders who don’t speak much English to an assembly and trying to control them when I don’t know much Spanish or any of their names (I’m sure whatever you’re imagining happened, and then some). After confiscating slime, drumsticks and a note with a girl’s number, a few other teachers realized I was struggling and stepped in (#blessed). After the program and a slight recess (snack/social time for teachers) it was time for a 5th grade class. I showed up and my supervising teacher wasn’t back from the doctor yet soooo I went ahead and taught the next lesson! Zero preparation, attentive students, lots of laughs and a completely covered whiteboard later.. I think those kids might be able to tell time in English a little bit better! My last hour of the day on Friday’s is with the high school (reminder: I’m an elementary school teacher *to be* and this class has strongly reconfirmed my choice of grades) which is tough. However, I’m taking this opportunity to work with students that I normally wouldn’t with open arms – because why wouldn’t I? The whole drive home today I had my window down, looking out with a stupid, goofy grin on my face just taking it all in. I am so happy.

Every day this week has been so different, yet so incredible. School gets out by 1pm every day so we go home for lunch (the biggest meal of the day). We take different ways to get to and from school and on the way home we go down this one specific road that I have nicknamed ‘Stray Dog Road’ because there are so many stray dogs. I’ve made a game out of counting how many I see and on this particularly cloudy Thursday, there were 23! I’ve eaten more bread (specifically white bread) in the past week than I have in the past four years; I eat lots of rice and soup and drink lots of juice, tea and coffee (although not as much coffee as I’m used to). I’ve eaten chicken feet, alien fruit, something that looked like a super hairy raspberry and like 10 other things that I can’t pronounce or spell or have ever eaten before. It’s a good thing I’m not picky!

My students favorite questions are “How old are you?”, “What is the United States like?”,
“Come se dice *insert word* en ingles?” (“How do you say ___ in English?”), “How long will you be here?”, “Do you have a boyfriend?” and “Are you a cheerleader?”. They ask all of this in Spanish and when I answer – in English, then Spanish, they smile so big you’d think they just won the lottery. They especially like when I say their names in “English” – which is really just a different pronunciation. They love to tap my FitBit to see the time (they have to tell me the time in English if they do). They also compliment my eyes and many of them say “su ojos son muy green”. I love how much they try to use English around me!

My two favorite things of this week:

  1. Hearing all of the students yell “Ariana!” across the school and waving.
  2. Getting involved with a cheer program here in the city! Ah, while I was watching them practice today, I couldn’t stop smiling. Their coach asked me to come back on Monday and my host mom said that my host brother and I can stay after school on Mondays and Fridays so I can help with cheer and he can play soccer (fútbol) and then take the bus home together….. YAY!

I’ve gotten to know so many people and already have so many plans for the next few weeks including a family wedding, traveling north with one of the other teachers, going to the coast with my neighbors and visiting with another teacher and her family – it feels so great to be so accepted and welcomed by everyone I have met!

Ugh, Ecuador is taking more and more of my heart every. single. day.

Now it’s time to relax and get ready to play some voley this weekend! I think we’re traveling somewhere too – possibly south, but not sure!

Ciao ciao! (my family always says “ciao ciao bye bye” when they hang up the phone ♥) 

 

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