Monday, April 4, 2011

Painting the town green

Monday, 4-4-11

I didn’t go out and paint the town red today but did paint the town green. I’ve been feeling kind of crazy and rowdy all day though I’m not sure why. So instead of saying I painted the town red, implying that I’ve been riotous and violent, I’ve decided to say that I painted the town green. I also literally painted part of the town green but I’ll talk about that later.

School went pretty well today. The first period was mostly taken up by the civic exercise, formación, as usual. But I did get to spend a little time with my first grade class. As I was sitting at the desk getting ready one of the kids came over and handed me something. It was wet and I wasn’t sure what it was at first. Then I figured out that it was a temporary tattoo that he’d gotten from a candy wrapper. How sweet! It was a little bee and a flower. I put it on my arm and put more water on it to make it stick. I showed it to the kids and they all laughed. I love my little first graders. They’re pretty adorable.

My second grade class was very well-behaved today. I’ve found that the younger kids have more problems sitting still and keeping quiet in class but this particular class usually does really well. I think a major part of the reason a class here does a better or worse job paying attention has to do with the primary teacher. The personality and teaching style of the teacher also seems related to how quickly each class learns. I’ve always believed that the teacher or professor was a huge part of whether or not I truly learned in particular classes. Additionally, at least at this school, a teacher gets a class in 1st grade and continues to teach them until 6th grade. So once you’re with a particular teacher, for better or for worse, that’s who you’ll have for 6 years. All of this is definitely something that I’m going to spend more time thinking about. I need to do a better job of holding the attention of the classes that seem to have a harder time focusing in class.

In my third grade section A class the kids seemed to be getting tired about halfway through the class. When I see this happening I try to change things up a bit and take a break from what we’re working on. I throw in a couple new words and do some fun things that get the kids moving or lets them be even more interactive. I like to have an interactive classroom where the kids are actively involved in what we’re learning. I also try to move around a lot during the class. I don’t like standing in the same place the whole time. Sometimes I’ll change my voice when we’re learning words or make motions with my hands. The kids enjoy it and it seems to help them remember what we’re learning.

Most of the time I can go with flow with weird things involving scheduling that happen at school but sometimes I’m really confused as to what’s going on. In my third period class today the bell was rung 10 minutes late. I just kept teaching until the bell rang but I was looking at my watch thinking, “Okay, they must have forgotten to ring the bell.” This is true because the director actually pushes a button which rings the bells. And if he forgets or is late ringing the bell then classes keep going. Or the break lasts longer. Or we start class early. Yeah, it’s kind of crazy sometimes.

I’m still trying to figure out who the teacher is for my third grade section B class. I had one teacher the first day and had written down her name ahead of time because I’d read it off the board in the director’s office. But then the next several classes I had were with another teacher. But she didn’t seem to be the permanent teacher and they don’t really have substitute teachers here. And today there was a third, different teacher teaching the class. I’m wondering who I’m going to see when I teach that class on Wednesday.

My last class, fourth grade, didn’t go the best today. I walked in and was getting ready to teach when I saw that a lot of kids from the other classes had their backpacks on and were leaving. Then the kids in my class looked like they were going to leave. The teacher walked in and announced to them that although everyone else was leaving that they had to stay for English class. “Oh, this is going to go over real well,” I thought to myself. Apparently she and the other teachers had some short meeting to go to so there wasn’t a fifth period. She said when I was finished teaching they could go. As much as they love English they were chomping at the bit to leave. I managed to get a little teaching in but I did dismiss them early. Their minds were gone as soon as they saw the other kids leaving.

Way cool temporary tattoo from my kids

My afternoon was filled with good intentions and though I managed to get a couple things done they weren’t things I’d planned on doing. But that’s one of the things I love about being here. Some of my greatest adventures have been unplanned or spur of the moment. I was on my way to the post office around 3pm today when I ran into Pedro in the park. He’s been painting the small walls around the city center/park for the past week or so. I stopped to say hi and see what he was working on. He was painting purple flowers and told me to sit down and help. Before I knew it I was down sitting down helping him out.

I painted one of the flowers and then decided I didn’t want to botch anything up too badly so I had him do the outlines of the rest of them and then I filled them in. I was trying to add color to one of the flowers but it ended up looking bad and I decided I needed a much simpler task. Pedro, thankfully, is very nice and understanding and didn’t freak out when I messed up the flower. He said he’d fix it later when it dried. Instead I painted the top part of the small cement wall/bench. I painted it all green with two coats and then he’ll probably paint something pretty on top of it. Hence the title of my blog: Painting the town green!

It took longer than I realized and when I was about halfway through I called to let Cecilia know that I was okay. It wasn’t a problem and she told me that Pedro needed to pay me 25¢ for my work. I saw quite a few of my students while I was working. Many of them came over to chat for a while and ask me what I was doing. There were also a lot of other people from the town who came over to say hi. I think it must have been like some sort of floodgates that opened because usually people just watch me when I walk through town or say a small greeting. I’m actually very self-conscious because I tend to get stared at a lot (white + female + blond = attention). As close as I can figure, people saw one person coming over to chat and figured that I didn’t bite so they came over to talk as well. It was fun talking to lots of different people. It’s good Spanish practice for me and I like meeting new people.

I finished all of what I was doing by 4:30pm. I managed to keep paint off my clothes which seemed a small miracle. I thanked Pedro for putting up with me and my mistakes and went to go mail my letters. When I got to the post office I saw that it was closed. Bummer. I’d left 1 ½ hours ago to mail letters and I didn’t even get to mail them. Oh well. I can do it tomorrow. I walked back to the town square because I was going to keep my plans to get some ice cream. I got myself a double scoop and got a double for Pedro too since he was patient with me. We sat and chatted until about 5pm.

I was getting ready to walk home when I saw William walking my way. He stopped by the house to find me to borrow an English book of mine for teaching. We said goodbye to Pedro and started walking back to the Pastoral House. On our way I ran into Ronald on the street. What is this? The day of the translators? Pedro, William, and Ronald are all translators. I guess there was some sort of memo that went out making it an official day.

Around 6pm I finally sat down to get some more work done. I must have been very deeply involved in what I was working on and sometimes I can be really oblivious to what’s going on around me. And since I’d been off painting the town green and feeling silly in general it took me quite a while to realize that the itch I’d been scratching on my leg had started to bleed and was now all over my pants. Great. Not sure how I missed that. I spot cleaned that because I really didn’t want to do more laundry.

Not long after that I looked up and realized that Idalia had been talking to me. Apparently Blanca had asked me if I could make pizza tonight but I didn’t hear her. It took me a while to process what they’d been saying. I had planned to make pizza tomorrow night for the ladies but I’m going to be video chatting with the Compañeros group during their meeting that starts at 6:30pm (5:30pm El Salvador time). So I made the pizza tonight. It was my first time making pizza here but it turned out well. It’s nice to be able to cook for the ladies and do something special for them every once and a while. I’m going to make cookies here soon as well. I bought brown sugar in Usulután and I’m getting excited!! Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be more tuned into the world.

Painting the flower I created

From there I just filled in flowers

The real artist

My flower looks a little deformed

Doing the outsides

A much easier task for me

Painting the town green

Detail work

Need some paint?

The botched flower
(In my defense he's the one who filled it in with the
other colors. Although he later fixed it)

The flower I made!

Pedro did these while I was painting the wall green

Inspecting my work


Magnolia Perez said...

What a neat post! Looking forward for more post from you. Thank you for sharing!

Matt said...

What a fun afternoon! I'm sure your work will be on display for years to come.