Friday, August 17, 2012

New Year, New Students

It's the end of week one!

The week one of school, that is. Classes began on Tuesday and it was probably one of the best weeks of my teacher life. I have an excellent homeroom, we started new wonderful routines that everyone seems to understand and follow, my new 5th graders are lovely and sweet, and I am just absolutely in love with how things have been going.

I have some work this weekend, but I don't feel overwhelmed by it. Sometimes it makes me feel like if I'm making some sort of small difference in at least one of my students' lives, I'm doing my job.

I remember when I was younger, maybe around 8 or 9, possibly 10, and my parents had gotten us some old desks from my elementary school when the school had bought new ones. They put them in our basement, hung up two chalkboards, and complete with old textbooks (I guess the school got new ones of those, as well), I would play School. I would write with different colored chalk on the boards, "call" on my "students," answer problems, read out loud, and do all of those teacher-y type things that I thought were awesome. I remember many days thinking that I wanted to be a teacher, but as I grew older, those thoughts flew out of window and got replaced with "horse trainer," "veterinarian," and "journalist." Some time during my studies for my master's degree, I realized that my initial thoughts of what my career was going to be was coming back into my brain.

After taking a class for teaching ESL, I fell in love with the idea that I could teach people English - something that I am really good at - and help them with something that they wanted to do - and maybe, in the grand scheme of things, affect and/or change some lives. My original idea was to head off to the Peace Corps to teach English in some country that no one had ever heard of, but after a turn of events (meeting my fiance), Honduras seemed to be my calling. First, I thought that my expertise would be with adult learners (which I thoroughly enjoyed working with in the USA) but after switching jobs and signing a contract with an elementary school, I knew RIGHT THEN that my true career was teaching English in the primary grades. It sometimes saddens me that in order to teach primary in the US, I would have to go back to school (again!) to get my teaching license, and thinking that it won't be a viable option for over one year, I will have to learn that I can make the same sort of waves with older students that I can with my sweet 5th and 6th graders.

Teaching overseas has taught me many lessons, mostly about myself. When I was younger, I was really shy and not even close to self-confident. But when you teach, and especially when you teach kids, you MUST be confident and project self-worth. Many of my students look to me for personal advice, many of them come to me crying about a problem or a situation, and many times I am the only one who can give them that one hug that will make the pain disappear for a moment. I never have felt nervous teaching, I have never felt unsure about myself. I have always felt that I CAN and WILL be the teacher that they learn valuable and useful lessons from - inside and outside of the classroom - and that for years from now, when they are much older and I'm already back in the US with kids hanging off my hips, some of my students will still remember me as their sixth grade homeroom teacher or their 5th/6th grade English teacher or the teacher who helped them solve a problem/issue or cheered them on during a sports game.

And years from now, when I'm back in the US with kids hanging off my hips, I'll look back at this almost 2 years in Honduras, and remember all of the good times I spent with my fiance, but also all of the times that I spent at school fielding questions, comments, concerns, and laughing my butt off at something hilarious that my student came up with on the spot.

Friday, August 10, 2012

In the HN

These past two weeks have been quite a whirlwind for me. First, we went back to work on July 29 and I've been here at school almost every day since then. We've had tons of meetings (mostly in Spanish, often I blank out because I get tired of trying to translate into English, but the other day I listened as much as I could and I probably understand 75% of what they were saying without needing to translate inside my head), I've decorated my classroom to the brim with stars, I've planned my lessons for next week, finished my syllabus for the first bimester, and done many other teacher-y types of things.

The best news from the past two weeks is that Javi has received his appointment date for his visa! *cue high-voice singing*

I was at work one day and decided to check my email on the off chance that we would get news of the appointment. I checked it, and I only had junk. At the same time, two more emails came through and one was the appointment email! I felt so happy in that moment and I called Javi right away to tell him. In two months, exactly, we will be sitting at the embassy waiting for his appointment and getting his visa!

The news of the visa is very bittersweet. It has been a very long road to this point, considering we started putting together everything about a year ago and sent off the petition in January. Since then it has been mostly constant waiting. I'm eager to be back in the US because there are many things that I miss from there, and I know that raising our kid in the US will be a better environment for them, but I often wonder about what things I will miss about living here.

So, in no particular order, the Honduran things that I will most likely miss:
1. the weather - it's nearly always hot, and I really love hot weather (most of the time) that I will miss it especially when winter begins back in the US;
2. the bread - Hondurans make really yummy bread and you can buy a lot for cheap;
3. my co-workers - I have two really great co-workers at my job and after spending so much time with them, it will be hard to not work with them anymore;
4. spending the afternoon at the mall - here people go to the mall just because, probably because the mall has everything you need to spend the afternoon: shops, food, and movies;
5. Javi's family - they took me in when I was first here and treat me like their own daughter, so it will be especially hard to say goodbye to them;
6. fruit sellers/street vendors/meat vendors - people here sell fruit, meat, other various items in the street and I don't know why but I really enjoy that;
7. being close to the beach - it's only one hour away and it's on the SEA, not the lake;
8. the juices - I don't know why but Hondurans make really good natural juices... mmmm.

Now, things I will not miss:
1. ants - they are everywhere!;
2. dogs barking at everything at any time - that's self-explanatory;
3. hand washing my clothes;
4. waiting for my clothes to dry in the sun, and if there is no sun, having to bring them inside and blow them with a fan;
5. a lot of dirt/dust - makes my house dirty;
6. the weather - it's really hot haha!!

I love living overseas, and I especially living overseas with Javi, and maybe one day we will be able to do that again.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Setting New Goals

A few weeks ago, I wrote a list called the "101 in 1001." It took me about one week to complete, and a lot of thinking. The reason why I wrote it is because sometimes I feel like my life can get a little mundane and routine. I wanted to give myself a test to complete all of the goals on the list - as little or as big as they seem to me at this moment. Some of the goals that I wrote are going to be really hard for me to achieve, while some will be a piece of cake. Some of them don't even rely on my direct involvement but it's part of my life that I want to see happen before 3 years from now.

I added a new page to this blog that gives you the entire list, and will gladly blog about completing every goal.

It's hard for sometimes to see all the good things that I have in my life, especially when I'm living somewhere that I have hardly any independence. Most days it is increasingly hard to do things without the help from someone, but these past days I've tried to do things myself as much as I can - even to the point where I can get a drink or lunch at work by myself, instead of relying on my co-workers to translate for me. I'm starting to feel much more comfortable in my Spanish skills, but I'm far from being fluent and I'm far from actually holding a normal conversation. But I know that deep down, I'm trying and that is what matters to me the most.

There are some things that I wish could happen RIGHT NOW, but those are things that are completely out of my control so I'm learning to just let go. I tend to be a bit "controlling" but I'm trying to learn to just relax, knowing that everything will happen as it should and when it is supposed to. So I'm feeling good these days, and trying to focus on the positive things instead of dwelling on things that I cannot change.

I still miss my family and friends in the US, but leaving here means leaving my family and friends here. Such a conundrum.