Language is Funny

Earlier this week I was sitting at the dinner table with my host family.  They were telling me about Lake Titicaca and this island that is in the middle.  It is a small island and is split between Bolivia and Peru.  It is known for the trout and the frogs that you can eat…supposedly all delicious.   Things are going well and I´m understanding most of what they´re telling me.  And so I asked a question to participate in the conversation…the question was something along the lines of how do you eat the trout or how does the trout taste, but I don´t remember fully at the moment.   The funny part of this story comes from the word trout which is ´trucha.´  And if you mispronounce the word with a ´ch´ instead of a ´tr´ then you get something very different from trout.  You end up with a woman´s body part that isn´t usually discussed at the dinner table.   My host dad thought it was the funniest thing ever and the others all were laughing quite hard.   And me, not knowing my error, sat there until my host mom leaned over to explain what I had just said.  Fortunately Grandmom had gone to bed already.

Funny, right?

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Una Presentación para PDS

El jueves pasado yo les di una presentación a los estudiantes in las clases de Español cuatro.  La idea de la presentación fue la vida después de Providence Day (mi escuela) y como llegué aquí.   Para ustedes voy a publicar poco de la presentación…la tiene 2,000 palabras, entonces no voy a incluir todo, solo los partes más buenos.  Muchas gracias a Sr. Barron y Carolyn para toda la ayuda!

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Cuando estaba en sus zapatos, pensaba de todo.  Cuando me gradué de Providence Day quería ser profesor de matemáticas y también existía una posibilidad de que enseñara aquí en Providence Day.  Miren esta foto de superlativo…fui elegido el alumno con más posibilidad de trabajar algún día en PD. Pensaba que pasaría 4 años en la universidad, y que luego regresaría a Charlotte.  Pero nada va precisamente como uno lo imagina,  y estoy aquí hablando de lo que voy a hacer y como llegué a este momento.

En un viaje de inmersión {estuve hablando de Cuernavaca aquí}, hay que escuchar mucho, y la atención es tan importante como la acción.  Porque nosotros éramos estadounidenses, no teníamos la autoridad para hacer nada.  Cuernavaca no era nuestra comunidad, entonces nosotros no podíamos hacer nada para ellos porque ellos tienen que  hacer para ellos mismos.  Si nosotros hubiéramos hecho algo para la comunidad, era posible que la acción pareciera imperialista.  Pero pudimos caminar con ellos en sus luchas, es decir observar y acompañar para mejor comprender su situación diaria.  Muchas veces es mejor caminar con alguien en vez de ayudar.

Antes de mi viaje a Cuernavaca nunca había pensado en ni  Jesucristo ni sus enseñanzas.  Claro que sí, yo sabía de Él, pero no lo conocía.  Para mí, Sólo era una figura en la Biblia.  Pero, aprendí por los encuentros en Cuernavaca.  Yo sé que la historia de Jesús Cristo es más que una historia…es una moda de vida.  La gente allá vive con el conocimiento de algo más grande como si mismo.  Entonces, estudié la teología e hice todo lo que pude para aprender más.   No puedo describir todo de lo que  pienso/siento…una razón es que hablo en español, pero en ingles no puedo describir todo tampoco.  Pues, el año pasado me hice socio de La Iglesia Católica.   Es un movimiento del Espíritu, y no sé adónde me lleva.

{Después de explicar Los Voluntarios Jesuitas, expliqué nuestros trabajaos…}

Yo trabajaré en la parroquia con los programas de preparación sacramental—La preparación para confirmación y primero comunión.  También la parroquia tiene una cafetería para los estudiantes en la escuela que no pueden regresar a casa para almorzar porque viven demasiado lejos.  Una de mis compañeras trabajará conmigo.  Es posible que ella vaya a trabajar con el ministerio de música.  Los Jesuitas quieren empezar otros programas también.  Uno es de Alcohólicos Anónimos.  Hay muchas posibilidades para nosotros en este lugar y nada esta cierto.  Mis otros compañeros van a trabajar en la escuela del pueblo. Van a enseñar inglés y también trabajarán en el ministerio del campus.  También, porque las dos (la iglesia y la escuela) están cerca, nosotros podremos trabajar en el otro lugar.  ¡Es posible que vaya a enseñar matemáticas en la escuela!

Pero nuestros trabajos no van a cambiar las situaciones políticas o finánciales… Para mí, quiero compartir experiencias. Nuestra meta como voluntarios no es cambiar el mundo para ellos, sino simplemente acompañarles en su camino y aprender de su cultura. Hay tanto que puedo aprender de la gente peruana, y trabajamos y vivimos con intención y sin ningún lujo para poder entender la perspectiva suya, que es completamente distinta que la nuestra, que tenemos simplemente por ser “americanos.” El único cambio que espero hacer en Andahuaylillas es a través de las relaciones personales. Como resultado de estar allí construyendo relaciones personales con la gente, seré impactado en maneras que no puedo imaginar, y ojalá mi presencia les ayude en alguna manera.

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Hay más partes de la presentación, pero este es basta….

Personal update…

So I realize that this hasn’t been much of a space where I write about my life and more of a space where I place thoughts that I randomly have about what is going on in the world around me.   And as I move forward I think that this space will continue to be a place where I write about things that I am thinking about as well as things that are going on in my life.  And so with that…

Last weekend, Labor day weekend, I flew up to Boston.  It was part move my brother into the freshmen dorms at BC and part visit my friends who were also in Boston.  At least that was the rationalization.  But in the end it turned out to be 95% hang out with my friends and 5% help my brother move in.  (Which I am sure he was grateful for!)  It was really good to see everyone while I was there, and even better to be back in the Alumni Stadium atmosphere that is BC Football.

One of the things that I did last weekend that was unusual for me was lack of planning.  I knew where I was sleeping, and I knew who all was going to be in that apartment, but I made almost no plans to meet up with other people around BC.  The process became a more natural process of running into people while tailgating or randomly seeing people at Cityside after the game.  The only real plan I had going into last weekend was to meet with Fr. Don to grab the things I had left behind for Daniel and to sleep on Lizz’s air mattress.

Thinking back on the experience, it was the right decision.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and got to reconnect with a lot of friends without stressing out over who I was going to see next.  But at the same time I am sad that I missed seeing some of my undergraduate friends…which is okay since I will be back up there in 2 weeks for parents’ weekend.

An odd thing happened to me while I was in Boston.  I realized how much I missed having roommates and living with my friends.  While there were many (many) stressful times with roommates, and especially friends who were roommates, there is a certain loneliness that comes with living back at home without those supports around.  (And to my parents who I know read this, I am grateful that you allow me to live at home and I love you!)  I also really miss Boston.  Fundamentally as a city it was phenomenal to live in.  The T, as much  as it sucks, could get you where you wanted to go.  There was never any real worry about transportation, and I could be downtown in less than an hour without having to worry about parking or driving after going out.   I feel confident in saying that I will live in a city with a subway when I finally find a place to settle down.

This week has been a mix of work, Spanish, running, and fun.

Work: I usually work 2-6pm at the YMCA After School, but today was special since it was a teacher work day in the school system.  I’m guessing that it was because of Rosh Hashanah, but since its a public school system I don’t think it was officially for that reason.   And we got to run a full day of After School Camp.

Spanish:  I have been attending classes at PDS for a few weeks now.  It is a great 90 minutes of class where I have to speak and comprehend Spanish.  I am picking up a lot of useful things and getting in a lot of practice.  One of the things that I really apprecaite is that Sr. Barron isn’t forcing me to do any of the real work.  I do the reading and the worksheets, but with regards to vocab that the class is learning I am allowed to create my own vocab lists.  So instead of a list built around some reading we’re doing or some unit we’re doing, I’ve built a vocab list around “Church” vocabulary which will be presumably more useful to me in a few months than what the Spanish 3 or 4 class is working on.  But who knows?

Running: I started back running this week.  It has been about 4 months since my last serious run, and that was the Boston Marathon.  Monday was a decent run and I happened to be at the park at the same time as PDXC so I ran a bit of their workout to start.  Thursday was a follow up run, and I started thinking about how many thousands of miles I’ve run at the park where I run…its hard to fathom.  I have really missed the trails this summer, and I am looking forward to getting into a routine over the course of the next few months.

Fun is self explanatory, and it happens almost anywhere I go!

Tomorrow I am off to Milwaukee to visit Tony and other JVIs who are in the region.  (Thank you Jim for your travel pass…you have allowed me to do so many things over the past 10+ years that I would not have been able to afford to do)  I am looking forward to hanging out with other JVs this weekend and to come away from the weekend feeling reconnected to the JVC mission and people that I felt such a strong connection to after Orientation.  (Not that I don’t feel connected now, but as with anything time=distance and I could use a booster shot.)

(This also was not proofread, but I am sure Diesel will find the spelling errors and missed trains of thought)

Spanish Class / Back to Afterschool

In the past two days several people have asked me what value do I see in attending a high school Spanish class for 2 months / will it actually be beneficial?  After two days of classes I am realizing that this is going to be incredibly helpful if I actually do all that I am setting out to do.  There is a time period when learning a new language that you invariably look “stupid.”  (It tends to be a very long period when you are learning a language in a classroom setting, and it probably is shorter when you enter through full immersion, but I don’t know about full immersion personally)  You conjugate a word wrong, you don’t have enough vocabulary to express what you want to express, or you speak with a thick accent that identifies you immediately as a gringo. This is certainly going to be me in a few months in Peru, but what I am hoping is that it will take less time to work through it because I am starting now.

The two classes I am attending give me a lab of sorts to review a lot of grammar that I haven’t looked at in 4 years as well as an opportunity to become comfortable with expressing myself in Spanish.  (And hopefully reading/writing as well)

On the first day of school I felt a bit under dressed.  I have forgotten about the need to look your best on your first day, but I think it’ll be okay…its not like I can win homecoming king anyways (ha!).  I did get there early to make sure I was in the right classroom at the right time.  It was Spanish 4 and there are only about 10 or so students, including me, in the class.  I have never taken Spanish 4.  Spanish 3 was my last class in high school, and then I took one semester of Intermediate at BC.  So it’ll be interesting to see where I fall into place in the class.  We received a verb review packet that covers all possible verb tenses, and it makes me a bit nervous.  I have seen all of them before, but I can’t remember what they all do, or when I am supposed to use them.  This is one of the things I will have to work on a lot.  Vocab I feel like you can easily add to, but grammar just seems to be a lot trickier when adding it to your repertoire of knowledge.  Spanish 3 is a bit larger.  I think my role in that class will be more of a helping role.  I will definitely learn/review important concepts, but on the whole I think I will grow more from being pushed in Spanish 4.

In other news…tomorrow is the first day of after school at the YMCA.  Public schools start back tomorrow, so we will all be back to work hanging out with kids when they get out of school.  I’m excited to be back to work (even though its only been 5 days since camp ended).  Its always nice to have something to do, and I’ve felt a bit out of place these past two days without 8-10hrs of work out at Camp Eagle Rock.  4th/5th grade is where I will be working over the next few months, and I’m excited for the challenges this will bring.

Back to School…

Summer 2010 flew by.  Literally flew by.  10 weeks ago was the night before the first day of camp.  11 weeks ago we had just finished staff training and I was prepping the LIT program.  Time is funny.  We’ve had our staff dinner, and we’ve said many goodbyes as a lot of our camp staff returns to their various universities of study and now the school year is starting.  And funnily enough I am starting school again.

Tomorrow is my second first day of high school.  I emailed Sr. Barron at Providence Day (my 2nd-12th grade school) to see if it would be possible to sit in on his Spanish classes.  After confirming with the principal of the high school, I was granted permission to participate in Sr. Barron’s Spanish III and Spanish IV classes until I leave for Peru.  And so tomorrow I will be joining 10th, 11th, and 12th graders in their Spanish class.  Its really kind of funny, and maybe a little bit creepy.  My youngest sister is excited that I will be going back to Providence Day because it means that I get to eat lunch with her on the days that my classes back up to her lunch period.  She is starting the 6th grade tomorrow, but since it is all on the same campus, we can eat lunch together.

Last week I met with Sr. Barron to talk about the classes and to see what sort of things he would like to have me do in way to give back for allowing me to come to class.  He sees me as more of an asset than a burden, which wasn’t quite how I saw it, but he wants me to contribute my own experiences and stories with Latin America to his class.  He thinks that I can help to provide a context for the Spanish language to high school students in a way that could inspire them to learn Spanish because they want to and not to fulfill some sort of requirement.  This semester Sr. Barron is looking to focus on personal narratives.  He wants to contextualize Spanish is a way that is meaningful to students.  If you are interested in the medical field, then let’s focus on medical vocabulary.  For me, my interest is somewhat slanted towards the religious (but really there is a ton that I should learn) given my background and what I will be doing in Peru.  There will be projects, presentations, and lots of homework!   He wants me to present on my experiences in Cuernavaca and on what I am doing with JVC in Peru.  I’m looking forward to the classes and I’m hoping that I can give more back to his classes than I take away (and hopefully I’ll be taking away a lot of Spanish!)