Friday, March 19, 2010

Teaching and Arrival in Mendoza

So I had three more days of teaching this week.  The class behavior varied from class to class and what time of day I had them.  Basically kids in grades 5 to 10 have 2 classes of English Lab working on computers each week.  For some classes these 2 classes are back to back, but for others it could be the 1st period one day and the 9th period another day in the week.  Since the lab wasn´t ready, we got to see these classes for both of their hours for English lab.

It is really interesting to see how classrooms vary from culture to culture.  German classrooms seemed to be rather teacher centered with students listening attentively, while US classrooms tend to be somewhat student centered and with students listening pretty well too.  Chilean classrooms seem to be rather teacher centered, but also with lots of side conversation throughout the class.  I had students work in partners, and they seemed to not be familiar with it.  I get a sense that my teaching style is going to be different than what they are used to, and I figure with time they will get used to it.

I felt pretty discouraged after teaching one particular class.  They weren´t listening, and over the course of about 20 minutes I had to take away the following things in the following order: cell phone, note, note, scissors, stars being cut out with scissors, paper being used to create said stars, note, note, nail polish (the two girls only got one nail painted on each of their hands) and a few more notes.  At the end of class I called for the class to stand and for me to dismiss them, and one student ran out of the class and a few more tried.  I went after him but wasn´t able to catch him.  Luckily one of the teachers recognized him and told me who he was.

It was somewhat comforting to me when I spoke with one of the teachers at the school and asked about how his class with them went.  He told me that it was really bad, and I asked him if he had to take anything from them.  His response was, ¨Yes, their lives¨.  I got a much needed laugh, and it put things into perspective that the kids were not just acting out becuase of me.

Despite this, I can say I am truly enjoying the teaching here.  The students for the most part speak pretty well and know a lot of English, and after having had them listen to Yesterday by The Beatles and dictate the lyrics I can see that they are eager to learn English.  Whenever I am walking around on campus, I hear ¨Hi Mr. Daniel! How are you?¨  And no matter how the kids act in class, it is nice hearing them speaking English and wanting to speak it with me outside class.

Thursday after school I got a new pair of clip ons (as I broke my first pair in half when they were in my pocket) and got my money changed to Argentinian pesos before I left.  I got to the bus station early and hung out at an internet cafe to kill some time.

At 10:15 I boarded the bus.  I traveled with Tur Bus, and they had it set up as a semi cama (semi bed) for each seat.  As we were going back and forth the winding road up the Andes, I thought to myself; ¨Right now I am crossing the Andes Mountains in South America going from Chile to Argentina.  This is pretty cool.¨ 

Around 1:15 we got to the customs/border patrol, and we sat on the bus for a while.  Then after about half an hour, we had to get out and show our tourist cards.  As we were waiting in line, I was wondering if Argentina is the only country where people (tourists, locals, and customs officials) can be smoking next to no smoking signs. 

We got on the bus again, creeped around the corner, and then had to get off again.  As we were waiting for them to X ray the luggage and search our carry on bags, I got to chat with 3 people that are from Germany and Holland who are studying in Santiago.  Then around 3:30 we once again got back on.

After fallling back asleep, I was awaken by my arm feeling wet.  It was raining, and apparently there was a leak in the bus.  Around 6:30 we finally arrived.  The first taxi I took was trying to overcharge me as he did not want to use the meter and didnt tell me it was broken, so I hopped out at the first corner we got to and then grabbed a new one.  The first taxi told me it would cost 15 pesos (which looking back at it was only 3 dollars) but the second taxi didn´t even cost 10 pesos using the meter.

The rain might alter my plans to go ziplining, mountain biking, trekking and repelling, and other adventure sports.  Apparently there are a lot of adventure sports to do here but also very good shopping.  It´s about 7:50 now, so breakfast is being served and there are some signs of people being awake.

I promise my next update will have more pictures and less writing.  :-)

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