February 28, 2010

Listening on Repeat

After spending three days with students and a grand total of about 13 hours on a bus, I cannot get one song out of my head. Have you heard the theme song for this year's FIFA World Cup in South Africa? The song is so catchy and of course my students love it, because they love all things soccer related!! :) They are so excited for the World Cup this summer that the excitement is transferring to me and I plan to watch several of the games.
Anyway, we listened to it several times on the bus ride, and I am in the process of listening to it online as I type this. :)
Check it out:

Here are some of my favorite lyrics from the song:

Give me freedom, give me fire, give me reason, take me higher
See the champions, take the field now, you define us, make us feel proud
In the streets are, exaliftin , as we lose our inhabition,
Celebration its around us, every nation, all around us
Singin forever young, singin songs underneath that sun
Lets rejoice in the beautiful game.
And together at the end of the day.
When I get older I will be stronger
They'll call me freedom Just like a wavin' flag
And then it goes back
And then it goes back
And then it goes back

February 27, 2010

San Vicente Field Trip

And I'm back from the field trip! San Vicente is an amazing place and overall we had a great time on our field trip. Here is how I spent some of my time over the last three days:

  • 5:40am - Steph & I picked up another teacher, Angie, to head to school!
  • 6:00am - Arrive at school and waited for very excited, but sleepy, students to arrive.
  • 7:00am - Finally leave school, 30 minutes late, because one of the chaperones locked his keys in his car...awesome.
  • 1:00pm - Arrive in San Vicente after 6 hours on the bus with our students. They were surprisingly well behaved and not too antsy on the bus ride, probably because they were mostly asleep until about 11. Spend some time getting everyone organized in their rooms/cabins.
Teacher cabin.
Outside of teacher cabin - hammock, outdoor shower and our own thermal pool...I could get used to field trips...
  • 1:30pm - Lunch. Here I come to the realization that they will probably serve rice a majority of the weekend. Since I decided to not eat rice or pasta during Lent I begin to question what I will eat the next few days.

View of cafeteria/main building from the bridge that runs through the grounds.
  • Afternoon - Free time with my activity group, during which we explored some of the thermal hot springs pools and spent some time in the spa! I went with some of my students to the "Oats & Honey" treatment, where I received a massage with a oats and honey mixture that was not as sticky as it sounds and actually really fun.
Small thermal pool near the spa.
Main thermal pool...which was pretty much always full of students.
Relaxing in the thermal waterfall! I love being a teacher. :)
  • 7:30pm - Dinner - rice again, awesome. Looks like I will be eating lots of plantains on this trip.
Main cafeteria.
  • 8:30pm - Free time until bedtime...my students decide to play a modified version of Spin the Bottle by spinning a flashlight around on a table and seeing who it lands on. Then that boy and girl had to kiss on the cheek. I found this absolutely hilarious considering Colombians kiss each other on the cheek ALL THE TIME as a form of saying hello. My students got so into the game and basically freaked out EVERY time the flashlight landed on someone.
  • 10:00pm - Students in their rooms to prepare for lights out at 11pm. After some time on duty and getting students settled down I finally got to bed around 12am. Grrrreat.
  • 7:30am - Breakfast of eggs and arepas - no rice!
  • 9:00am - My activity group departs on the "long hike" of the trip, which took about three hours in total and finished at a stunning waterfall full of ice cold water. Students signed up for the hike if they wanted to attend in order to minimize complaining from those who aren't into hiking. My group went on the hike with another group and this was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip! My students totally got into it and helped each other along, and I got to hang out with them in a totally new environment.
Starting out on a very muddy trail!
Covered in mud by the time we reached the end of the trail! My Keens used to be green...
View of the waterfall at the end of the trail.
Our whole hiking group.
He didn't want to take off his tennis shoes...so I carried him across the river while we directed me and constantly said "Don't drop me Meeesus!"
Playing in the waterfall! They came out absolutely shivering...
  • 12:30pm - Lunch...I don't really remember what it was, but it was definitely served with rice.
  • 2:00pm - Canopy/zip lines! All of my students had been on a zip line before and convinced me that I had to do it, so after all 9 of them went sailing through the air I followed.

My first zip line experience!
  • Afternoon - While my students met with the counselor for his activity I took a nap (yay!) and then we spent the afternoon playing volleyball in the pool & relaxing. Such a great end to a jam-packed day.
  • 7:00pm - Dinner & bonfire.

Female 8th grade teachers at the bonfire: Me, Ketty, Jessy, Angie & Steph.
  • 11:00pm - Lights out - teachers on duty return to go to bed for the night...
  • 1:45am - Cell phones that were confiscated from students during the day start going off with alarms...we find this odd that alarms went off in the middle of the night, but we shut them off and go back to bed.
  • Somewhere around 2:30am - We hear the dean of students banging on the door of the room next door, and figure out that he is hunting down students who are missing from their rooms.
  • Somewhere around 3:00am - We are informed that about 40 (aka HALF THE 8TH GRADE CLASS) students are sitting in the cafeteria as punishment for being found outside of their bedrooms, either running around the grounds, or in a room of the opposite gender. In total they sat there for about an hour, some closer to two hours, in the middle of the night for sneaking out of their rooms. How did they get caught?? Chaperones heard them banging on each other's doors around 2:00am. Great work, ladies and gentlemen.
  • 7:30am - Arrive to a very tense breakfast environment where the students don't know how they will be punished for breaking a major security rule. Most people are sleep deprived and in general I feel pretty disappointed in my students because the field trip was going so amazingly well up until this point. I can't really pretend that I never snuck out of my room on a school field trip (sorry Mom!), but 40 of them out of their rooms is ridiculous, especially considered the implied security issues of being outside in the middle of the night and running back and forth across the river that flowed through the middle of the grounds.
  • 8:00am - Decide to de-stress from the night and enjoy the rest of my group's spa time with a massage. I had never gotten a full massage before, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity - I loooooooved it. I could definitely be a teacher year round if we went on more field trips like this.
  • 9:30am - Met up with my students for our last activity - rappelling down a waterfall! Again, my students told me I had to do it, and even though I was the last one, they waited for me at the bottom to finish. The rappelling experience was a bit terrifying, but in general a really cool way to spend a morning. I was so impressed with my students who just went for it, without looking back or thinking too much about the heights. I came to the conclusion that my Colombian students are just more outdoorsy that my US students, perhaps because they have so many more opportunities for outdoor things here. At any rate, they did an awesome job encouraging each other and me!

Ready to go!
  • 12:00pm - Lunch & packing
  • 1:30pm - We were supposed to board the buses and leave. Instead we are told the buses are on their way. We proceed to play a few rounds of Bananagrams to wait it out.

Me with two students as we wait to leave.
  • 2:30pm - Two of three buses arrive and we squeeze all 100 people onto two buses for the first 45 minutes of the journey. Sitting three to a seat going over rolling hills and winding countryside in Colombia = zero fun.
  • 3:30pm - Finally on three different buses, sitting comfortably. I finish grading a class worth of Algebra tests and feel quite productive.
  • 6:30pm - About an hour or so from Cali we are informed that the third bus has run out of gas and we need to wait for them. Awesome.
  • 7:00pm - Pull over at a roadside stand so the students can get snacks, since we are all starving.
  • 7:15 pm - I am beyond sarcasm and snarky-ness with my students. I am so sick of being around them I actually stop listening to what they say before I say no. Clearly this field trip needs to be over.
  • 8:00pm - The third bus arrives and we all depart.
  • 8:15pm - I have a lengthy conversation with two of my male students about who would make the best couples in the 8th grade class. A great way to pass the last hour into Cali.
  • 9:30pm - Arrive at the northern drop off point in Cali, where Steph and I sort of bail on the other teachers by departing since we live in the north. One of the parents from our school's parents association gives us a ride home.
  • 10:00pm - Home at last :)
As you can tell the trip got a bit long near the end and I was more than ready to be back in my own bed last night, but I am so glad we went. I talked to students who I did not previously have a strong relationship with. I tried some new activities. I bonded with the 8th grade team of teachers. The list could go on, but overall I am excited to go again next year....I just might personally organize the transportation and handcuff my students to their beds at night. ;)

February 23, 2010

Until Further Notice: I will be bonding with 88 8th graders in the wilderness

Hi friends! The three day field trip adventure starts tomorrow at 6 am when we board the buses with most of the eighth grade class and ten chaperones!
We are bound for the Termales de San Vicente, or thermal pools at San Vicente, for three days of activities with our students, including a waterfall hikes, natural thermal pools, canopy zip lines, rappelling, and more! I would imagine there will be some game playing, movie watching and swimming in there as well, so it should be a good time. Despite some recent qualms about the trip I am excited for our departure in.......seven and half hours! YIKES! Off to bed!
Until Friday...

February 21, 2010

Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night: Pub Crawl 2010

I officially LOVE LOVE LOVE all of my wonderful friends here in Cali. After a difficult week at school I felt so ready for this weekend to arrive - and with it the "pub" crawl planned by my friend Scott. I use the term "pub" crawl loosely, because we didn't actually go to bars. Since bars in Cali are mostly centered around super loud music and dancing, you cannot actually go to bars if you plan on talking at all.
Therefore, Scott designed a pub crawl that actually went from one house to another in a neighborhood of Cali where several teachers live. Seven houses in total participated in the crawl and each house had a unique drink and theme to go with it. The evening was such a great chance to spend quality time together and also enjoy delicious snacks & drinks. My favorites of the night were Angie & Caleb's grasshopper drinks and the coconut flan with rum-soaked pineapple at Kelsi's house!
House #1: Mexico
Squeezing some fresh lime juice for margaritas!
Seth blending up the margaritas.
Representing the middle school math department!
The whole pub crawl crew - impressive!
Stephanie & I enjoying mojitos at Kelsi's house (House #2 - Cuba theme).
House #4: Caleb & Angie's insect theme with grasshoppers and lady bug cupcakes!!
House #5: NYC with Cosmopolitans, mini hot dogs & the Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty welcomes you!
Scott being the official time keeper of the pub crawl.
Kelsi & I mid-pub crawl.
House #6: Enjoying fruity drinks and strawberries dipped in chocolate. Mmmmm...
House #7: Catie and Scott's classy red wine with cheese, bread and grapes theme
By the end of the evening we had all decided that this MUST happen again next year, we MUST make t-shirts and there MUST be personalized cups for all involved. I cannot wait!
Cheers to a fun and successful weekend!

February 20, 2010

the no-good-very-bad day

Being a teacher is difficult sometimes. The students don't understand the material. They say or do something disrespectful. You feel like you're not explaining the material well enough. Whatever. Some days I feel like a bad teacher. However, on these days I find it easy to remember that they are only 13 years old, so they can be forgiven easily - they are still growing up and trying to figure out the world, so it's hard to hold much of a grudge.
And then there are the days when you have a serious difference of opinion with co-workers, people who are not 13-years-old and hence you expect more from them - and they are harder to forgive. Yesterday was one of these days for me. For the first time since moving to Colombia and teaching at my school, I really felt like my co-workers did not align with my personal beliefs.
Here's the situation:
We're going on a 3 day, 2 night field trip to a place called San Vicente. We leave on Wednesday of the upcoming week. Once there we are going to be doing lots of activities like repelling, hiking, swimming, etc with our students. Ever since our mini-convivencia (Spanish word for field trip, more or less) a few weeks ago I have been so excited to spend more time outside the formal classroom!
In the permission slip for students and their parents to sign, we included a "Behavior Contract" of things the students needed to do in order to attend the field trip. This included not having many referrals to the dean and not be failing 3 or more classes. On Friday, we met as an 8th grade team to discuss those students who would not be attending because they did not uphold their end of the contract. We came up with a list of 6 students (all boys, interestingly enough) who would not be allowed to attend for discipline or academic issues. Each of these boys have caused our team many headaches since August, and while they all have the potential to turn things around, each of them has at some point been a serious distraction or problem in the classroom. On almost a daily basis some of them make it very difficult to feel like a good teacher.
Soon after we decided these 6 students would not be allowed on the trip, our administration decided they would be attending. Apparently our contract read, "more than 3 classes" and not "3 or more classes" in terms of failing. Also, apparently discipline referrals for "minor" things like not following school rules for uniform do not count as true referrals. While our administration has a history of catering to the wealthy and powerful community of parents at our school, I was shocked by this decision. For me, school is about education and learning, and if students cannot be respectful, follow rules, and maintain commitment to their studies while we are in a school environment, why in the world would I want to take them on a three day field trip???
I did not realize quite how passionately I felt about my convictions until I ended up crying in front of my principal, twice. (Side note: Have I mentioned that I hate hate hate crying in front of people? I am fine expressing my opinions but once you cry about something it takes all your good points and tosses them out the window! Why do women cry about things like this?? I need to learn to express myself without crying - immediately.)
So anyway, I cried, twice. Insert red, blotchy face for the rest of the day and me wearing sunglasses around campus for the entire afternoon. In the end, all of our students, with the exception of one who is failing 4 classes and those who chose not to attend, will come on the field trip. I still feel very excited for the trip and I know it will be a positive experience for almost all involved. At the end of the day, I am not in charge so I have "agreed to disagree" in this case.
However, this experience has definitely made me question more the way schools operate, especially private schools. I attended a private high school and witnessed first-hand the various parental and community politics that affected my school, and I hated it. Now I am involved in those same politics from the perspective of a teacher, and I cannot really say I enjoy it. I love being a teacher because I love students, I love learning, and I love knowing that these kids are going to be the ones who change our world. As someone who debated working abroad or volunteering to teach in a big city for at-risk students, I am starting to see the vast difference in these two options...perhaps this will affect my future job decisions as a teacher, but only time will tell.
Until then, I am enjoying the weekend and doing my very best to forget about the no-good-very-bad Friday at school. I have a distinct feeling the "pub" crawl my friends have organized for later will help...details & pictures tomorrow. :)
Happy Saturday friends & thanks for listening (reading).

February 17, 2010

40 days of serious self-discipline...can I do this?

At home in Minnesota, my parents raised my three brothers and I as Catholics and as is Catholic tradition, each year for Lent we would "give something up" that we would miss. Usually soda or candy or something. As I got older I stopped giving stuff up because I didn't have very many unhealthy eating habits, so giving up something wouldn't really be a big challenge.

Well here I am in Colombia and I still have pretty healthy eating habits.
  • I actually do eat an apple a day, whether or not it keeps the doctor away.
  • I do not drink coffee every morning, but tea instead. While I do enjoy coffee a lot (reference blog title), I don't need it every day.
  • I love fresh fruit, like a lot of it, and Colombia is land of constantly available fresh fruit.
  • I don't eat very much red meat...maybe one a week, if that.
  • Whether it's a healthy living choice, or more because they gross me out, I do not use condiments. Most people find this extremely weird, but I can't help it...salad dressing, ketchup, mustard, mayo, ranch, etc....they all creep me out.
  • I only eat whole grain bread, and other whole grains when possible.
  • I rarely have soda.
There you have some of my healthier eating habits. However, since moving to Colombia, or rather since having a full time job as a first year teacher, I have found myself falling into the habit of just making things that are quick & easy rather than delicious & nutritious. (I don't really know why I keep rhyming things in this post...sorry)

Therefore, I am going to attempt what six months ago I would have deemed absolutely impossible. For forty days, I am going to give up eating all rice and all pasta. Yeah, yeah, I know the whole grain stuff is good for you and all, but I figure if I am going to do this I better go all the way. Basically this will be a huge experiment in self-discipline to see if I can hack it, but also a challenge to slow down. Make better meals. Healthier meals. And take my time with them, because I really do love cooking. I figure I already have the pasta and rice cooking down* so i am going to take these 40 days to come up with new things to cook and try and love just as much as I love pasta. :) Here's to hoping I succeed! Cheers.

*At least on the stove, don't even come near me with a rice cooker, they confuse me, just ask my roommates.

February 15, 2010

the time i went to medellin & saw lots of fat statues and drank pancake flavored tea

As I said in my quick post before the weekend, I spent Valentine's Day weekend with some friends in the city of Medellin, north of Cali in the central Andean mountain range. I have heard some about Medellin from friends and students at school, so I figured it was time for me to discover it for myself. Prior to heading to Medellin, here is what Lonely Planet: Colombia had to say about the city:
"Forget everything you've read about Medellín - it's probably old news by now. Yes, the city was the headquarters and principal killing grounds for Colombia's cocaine cartels. But the world press forgot to report Medellín's remarkable turnaround. Today, it's one of Latin America's safest big cities, and also one of its most pleasant. Although Medellín may lack the sophisticated edge of Bogotá or the sumptuous languor of Cartagena, it has its own unique set of guiles to win over the traveler. Surrounded on all four sides by rugged peaks, there seem to be stunning views wherever you look. With mild temperatures year-round, Medellín deserves the nickname 'City of Eternal Spring.' A dynamic economy, driven by the huge textile industry as well as very brisk business in cut flowers, helps support a lively cultural scene. The narrow streets of downtown, safe once again, are supercharged with pedestrian life. Above all, it's the people who will win you over. Even in ultra-friendly Colombia, they are known for their graciousness and warmth. Life isn't perfect by any means. The slopes around the city are crowded with makeshift slums, a constant reminder of the inequality that plagues not just Medellín but all of Latin America. Still, the city's residents have a special knack for enjoying themselves, and they're more than happy to have you join in."
Sounds pretty sweet, huh? We were excited to get there and even despite some annoying airpot delays still made it to Medellin in high spirits! Our hotel, Prado 61, was a European style boutique (well, boutique for Colombian standards) hotel in the Prado neighborhood of Medellin. The owner spoke English, the rooms were huge and we were served delicious breakfasts each morning of fresh fruit, eggs, fresh juice, coffee and bread for only $3 each. Mmmmmmm. Kelsi & I shared a double room with a massively over-sized bed, twin bed, and a gorgeous bathroom with his & her sinks! :)
Our room.
Dual sinks are so efficient.
While in Medellin, we took out the guidebooks and played tourists for the weekend - checking out all that Medellin had to offer! After a weekend of exploring I could not agree more with my guidebook when the quote next to Medellin on the maps says "Classy Medellin is a city with something to prove." The city is definitely trying to make its way in the world by putting forth an image of modernity. From the fancy Metro (only one in Colombia!) to newly fashioned parks & plazas, the city definitely feels like it is out to make a statement. Here are some highlights from the weekend:
Plaza Botero - home to about 15 sculptures by Medellin-born artist Fernando Botero. I saw his museum in Bogota a few months ago & became fascinated by his style of painting chubby people. Final verdict - sculptures are even cooler than the paintings!!
Caleb & Angie mimic Adam & Eve.
Tara, Angie, Kelsi and I with the (somewhat naked) statue of a winged woman.
Museo de Antioquia (Antioquia is the state that Medellin is in)
View of Plaza Botero and the Palace from the Museum window.
Kelsi & I with one of the Botero sculptures.
Friends standing outside the cathedral in Parque Bolivar.
Kelsi admiring some of the headstones in San Pedro cemetery in central Medellin.
Entrance to the botanical gardens from the Metro stop.
Enjoying the botanical gardens.
Lake in the middle of the botanical gardens.
My FAVORITE picture from the gardens. I LOVED these pink puff ball things! This one it totally getting framed :)
Metro Cable cars in Medellin - to provide city access to those who live on the hillside.
Touristy photo while riding the Metro Cable and listening to the others in our car debate if it is harder to learn English or Spanish as a second language. Awesome.
Enjoying some Sunday relaxation time at Cafe Le Bon in Parque Lleras, Medellin.
After many months I finally found a place to serve me a tea macchiato, sort of like a tea mocha...only they made it first with fruity tea....with coffee...which just tasted weird. Next I got this gem. Took one sip before I placed the distinct flavor of my second cup of tea. Pancakes. Actual pancakes. I am not kidding and of course I made Kelsi and Tara try it to verify and yes they agree, so there. Tea can taste like pancakes apparently.
Outside of the photos our other main activity in Medellin included eating all types of delicious food that we cannot get in Cali. This of course included some beers from the micro brewery, Tres Cordilleras, as well as delicious spring rolls and thai food. Mmmmmm.
I hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine's Day weekend!!
Related Posts with Thumbnails