09 September 2010

Top 10: Emotional Twinism or, Reasons I Love Elika.

Disclaimer: this is (mostly) unrelated to my travels to Ecuador. Instead, this is (mostly) about one of my best friends and emotional twin, Elika.

Because Elika is amazing, and has mentioned me in her blog multiple times, and because its been a while since I indulged in my top 10 lists, here are, in no particular order, the Top 10 reasons I love having Elika in my life (albeit  5,613 miles away. Thank you google maps.)

10. She is my emotional twin. Which, for those of you who don't know, means that where other people are similar on the outside, we are similar on the inside. So physically, we are peas and carrots, but emotionally, we are carrots and carrots. Yum, vegetables.
9.She has amazing curly hair, which can be used to make mustaches.
8. She is in the business of surprise weddings, which is going to be the next big trend in event planning.
7. Her family is pretty amazing. They put up with a lot of youth devotionals and sleepovers and showering in the early morning, and I have had a lot of fun times with them which include Balderdash, nerf wars, body bags, super spying at Fred Meyers, and cats.
6. If she married someone with the last name of Book, her name would be Elika Roohi Book.
5. She is unafraid of weird looks (in fact sometimes she tries to get them) and completely immune to societal pressures of conformity. Which allows her to do amazing things like wear tights on Sundays, dance like a jellyfish, and bring her ukulele to supermarkets.
4. She plays the ukulele! And was the impetus of my own uke obsession. Also, she has been my exposure to many other amazing things like Regina Spektor's chord progresh, Firefly, Dr. Horrible, and fire extinguishers.
3. She is really quite good at communication despite distances ranging from an hour's drive to 5,613 miles. And she takes the time to email a person, and share links on facebook, and is all around not a slacker in the communication department.
2.She has really good ideas when it comes to writing songs. And, she can find better rhymes then the online rhyming dictionary.
1. She has an amazing writing skills! She's actually getting paid to write for the UAF paper. Possibly photograph too. And her blog is fun to read! www.elikaa.blogspot.com Go there. Read. It will change your life.

Love you Elika!


This is my schedule for school:

To explain:

The Green is the days of the week (not a periodic table, as I first thought!) The highlighted part/blue part is the classes that I have or are assisting with. The blue in the corner is Colegio: high school, and I'll be leading the most advanced group of English students with Maryam. The numbers in the center of the boxes are the grades. For instance, 2 means 2nd de basica (or second year of elementary school=1st grade). The 0 is prekinder, or students from 2 and a half to 4 and a half years old. And the C's in the corners of two boxes stand for computers...because I'm teaching pre kinders computer classes (?).
So. Full schedule. And for this first week, we've only been going to Recreo 2 (half days for los niños, partial days for the older students). I am going to have so much more endurance at the end of this year!!

07 September 2010

An ocean in a teacup...

So much has happened in the past few days! I can hardly believe I've only been here for 8 days. I'm in experience overload! Its too hard to describe everything that's happened since I last posted...I'll do a short recap and then highlight some of the best parts!

So, the day that I last posted was full of adventures. I went to a beautiful waterfall called "La Cascada de Peguche". Its about 20 minutes outside of town and so so beautiful! I went with some of the youth that were doing service. They took me on all of these little trails around the waterfall, and the altitude made me short of breath but it was definitely worth it!

After the waterfall, we returned to la casa to eat lunch. Lunch is a very important meal here: everyone eats it, on a fairly strict schedule! It always includes una sopa, a delicious soup, and rice, usually with chicken and some ensalada, or vegetables. And then back into a taxi for the center of town, where we walked through la Plaza de Ponchos, where the famed market is. There were so many textiles, souvenirs, sweaters, and in such bright colors! A feast for the eyes.

That evening, we went into town again to see an amazing parade! They are having a week-long fiesta for...some type of vegetable harvest, I think (I don't remember the name) and as part of that fiesta, they have live music and then a fantastic parade! Tons of people, tons of music (more than 15 marching bands, all playing different music!) dancing...everything from the German community representation with lieder hosen to the indigenous dancing of the Quechua people to the candidates for this year's Miss Otavalo pageant!

The next day was very chill. I stayed at home for most of the day, alone. It was good, I think, because my head gets so full from learning Spanish and everything new...breaks keep me from going into some type of sensory overload shock. In the evening, I drove to Quito with Jorge to meet Maryam at the airport. Its so nice to have someone to share experiences with (and who understands English as well, although we're trying to only speak Spanish to each other in order to accelerate the immersion process...)

Sunday brought Maryam and I into town again to explore. We ran into some of the teachers at the school with their children and brother (who is my age) and they invited us to have "una ensalada de fruta" with them. I was thinking, oh, fruit salad...ok, not my cup of tea, but I'd like to go with them...

I was so wrong about not liking fruit salad. The way they make it in Ecuador? Picture this: a large cupful of strawberries, pineapple, watermelon, cantalope, and nectarines (there were bananas there too, but I couldn't bring myself to eat them...)covered with some type of really thick, really sweat cream. Top that with a spoonfull of sorbet, some delicate gratings of what I think is cheese (it sounds weird, but it was delish!) and a cookie-wafer thing. It was sooooo good!

In the afternoon, we went with Jorge, his mother, his wife, Claudia, and their son Jesse to Ibarra, a larger town 20 minutes to north, to do some shopping at the "Supermaxi", the name for supermarkets here. Traffic was horrible, and it was definitely combat shopping! But it was an experience...

Monday was the first day of school. Here, though, the first day of school is very short...like a half day, only shorter. The students assembled on the basketball court for "la forma", where they all lined up by grade. The school accepts students as young as 2 and a half years old, and its so cute to see all these tiny children in uniforms! La Forma is so the students can hear the morning (weekly?) announcements. I basically stood at the front with the rest of the teachers and tried to comprehend what the speaker was saying. After, we had a meeting with all the teachers. It was good...I guess...Hard to understand at times (most of the time) because of the Spanish though.

We returned home in time to eat lunch before Claudia went to pick up some children and prejóvenes (junior youth) for classes she holds at her house every monday! I listened in on the junior youth group. The class is doing Glimmerings of Hope, so I was able to understand and even contribute a little! And afterwards, Maryam taught them (and me!) part of a dance workshop dance. It was fun! And there are so many different cultures represented in Otavalo!

After the class, we had a little more time to rest, and then accompanied Claudia and Marisela on their appointment to teach the Faith with some of the parents of the children. They showed us the booklet we use: a lot like our Anna's Presetations here! And it was so valuable to be able to hear them speak...even if I couldn't understand all of the words, simply the presentation was so amazing! And prayers in Spanish are so beautiful (I guess they're beautiful in any language...but to hear them in Claudia's perfect Spanish is wonderful!)

Today was my first day of working with students. We're still working out scheduling, but it looks like I'm going to be primarily working with 2nd grade, 4th grade, and the highest level speakers in el colegio (high school).  This week is mostly placement testing for the older students and games for the younger. I had a class with the second graders, with Maryam and Paolo. The children have so much energy, and are so happy! We played "Simon dice" with English words, musical statues, and "pato pato ganso" (duck duck goose). The class had 7 kids. They were very endearing, giving us lots of hugs and always wanting to tell me something.

The high school classes were also good...We had a larger class (15) and today only needed to explain the process of placement testing that would happen the next week. Then we played heads up 7 up and Charades (an entirely new game for them...and I think they were pretty shy to act) while we waited for the bell. I think this class will be more challenging, because the high school students aren't as eager to please, although they are definitely friendly and seemed to enjoy heads up 7 up. But I am eager to start planning lessons and to meet the 4th grade (tomorrow!)

Wow...so much for shorter post. I have too much to describe! Soon, I will tell you about some of the people I've met. They are so welcoming and nice. I am so very lucky to learn all that I am and to be able to help out in some small way. Goodnight!