Yes, I’m Still Alive

January 14th, 2013

It’s been a year and a half since I wrote a post on this blog. That’s terrible; I’m sorry.

Moving on, I’m going to try to keep up with this blog a bit more.

Here’s a little of what’s happened in the last half-year.

  • June and July: finished the school year, got a chance to visit a beautiful natural park an hour out of Bogotá, and visited my siblings, home church, and friends in Michigan.
    With Two Nephews
  • End of July: came back to Colombia and visited Jaime and Paula and the church they minister in in Medellín (8 hours northwest of Bogotá).
    Preaching in Medellín
  • August: school started. August is kite month, and I love kites, so I flew my kite.
  • September: more school. This year, I’ve been focusing more in my classes on instruction on why we learn and work and do the things we do as human beings, and on how this is based in God’s blessing to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28 (ESV), “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
  • October: school continues. I took a trip to San José del Guaviare again to encourage the believers at the assembly there. Also visited the local zoo near Bogotá. God’s creation is amazing.
    Spectacled Bear
  • November: school still continues. I’m the homeroom teacher for twelfth grade (see picture), which involves helping them raise money and decide where their senior trip will be: a growing experience for all of us. As the ECA motto goes, we’re “Training for life.” I also drew a new comic over at fallingfifth.com.
    Class of 2013
  • December: Finished the semester. Presented a Christmas play with my local church at our church and two others. Celebrated Christmas and New Year’s in Bogotá with my parents and Deb. I also turned 28.
    Christmas - Rogers Family
  • January: Started the year by going to a camp in Sta. Rosa de Cabal, about 8 hours west of Bogotá where my parents were invited to give talks on marriage and family. I finally made it to Lake Guatavita, where the Legend of El Dorado was born (see the panorama below; the lake is to the right). I bought myself running shoes and have gone running once so far (not including my morning sprints to the teacher van).
    Guatavita Panorama

God bless you all. Keep in touch.

Year 3

July 30th, 2011

Yep, I’m back in Bogotá. After a wonderful 8 weeks spent with family in the States, I flew back to Colombia on Wednesday. Unlike both other school years spent here, I came knowing where I’d be living and was able to settle in immediately. It’s a nice feeling. Thanks Hudgins family!

Today I got my picture taken for my Colombian ID. It took three and a half hours from the time I walked in until I got it. No, it really shouldn’t take that long. The good news is that it looks like me. See?

Picture taken for my Colombian national ID

Speaking of identity, here’s my twin whom I met last week at camp. We’re not actually related, but plenty of people thought we were.

Picture of me and James

Well, that’s all for now. Next week is teacher orientation and preparation for classes which start in earnest August 8.

Flooding and a New Computer Lab

February 5th, 2011

When I got to school this past Monday, they told me the computer lab had flooded, but the only signs I could see of that were ceiling tiles which had been removed (but supposedly no water had come through the ceiling) and a very slight amount of water pooled at a couple of the computers (unnerving nonetheless). I think some pipes in the ceiling had leaked. Later this week, they put the ceiling tiles back, so I presume that means that they fixed the problem.

Speaking of the computer lab, I’m in a new one as of the beginning of this semester. It’s really nice. Here’s a picture:

Picture of the New Computer Lab

As you can see, I have a lot of natural light, and a generally pleasant room to work in now. To the left of the picture is the annex, which hosts 8 more computers that can be used by students from other classes who need to work while another class is being held in the main lab.

I hope you’re all doing well. As always, it’s wonderful to hear from you.

Bus Strike!

August 29th, 2010

Yesterday morning I went to church, so I got on Bogota’s bus rapid transit system (called the Transmilenio) and headed south to what is known as Soacha, a municipality about to be swallowed up by Bogota proper.

Now, to get to church, I have to take the Transmil as far as it goes and then get on a tiny bus called a colectivo, ride that for 10-20 minutes, and get off to walk another five minutes to church.

As it happens, the Transmil system is being extended on that end so that in a few months, I should be able to cut out the colectivo step of my transportation: a real benefit in time and money.

Apparently, bus drivers in Soacha don’t share my enthusiasm, which may be why they went on an unannounced strike yesterday. So, the few buses that were in operation were charging extra and not going as far as normal. The only other options were to pay for impromptu taxi and “bus” service: people driving personal cars and pickup trucks with wooden walls, as you can see in the following picture:

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Today when I went to church, everything was back to normal.

I guess you never know what to expect in Bogota, other than excitement at every corner.

Gearing Up

August 5th, 2010

I made it back to Bogota for another year of teaching! I’ve been back for almost a week now, and it’s been busy, busy, busy.

The school looks a bit different since the new building is closer to a state of completion; fifth and sixth (I think) will be using a couple of the new classrooms this year, though they won’t have their drop ceilings yet. The new computer lab and library won’t be ready for at least a few more months.

This morning I translated, then “translated,” and finally gave up and summarized in Spanish for about 3.5 hours of meetings. That was draining.

Currently, I’m working out my plans for the eight computer classes I have again this year. I hope to finish before the night is through, but reality is often crueler than my naïve estimations.

School starts with a picnic this Saturday, with core classes starting Monday, and the regular schedule beginning Tuesday.

Teacher’s Day

May 18th, 2010

Last Friday was Teacher’s Day in Colombia, which meant we got a half day of school and only the teachers of “important” subjects (i.e. everything but music, art, computers, and PE) had classes.

I like having a non-core class.

On the other hand, students remembered to get candy and other presents for every teacher except us non-core teachers (though that’s not quite true since I got German Hazelnut chocolate from the family I live with).

Stock Image of RitterSport Hazelnut Chocolate

In the afternoon, the school board took us to Parque Jaime Duque (James Duke Park) to hang out for the afternoon. After a delicious meal, we looked around the place a bit. There are many things I did not see (e.g. the whole zoo part), but I did get to see such things as a very large relief map of Colombia, a full-size replica of the Taj Mahal, and a whole host of replica statues and the like.

Picture of a replica of the Taj Mahal

All told, it was nice to relax for an afternoon before stressing out again over grading and other tasks related to the end of school.

Poetry Week and Hamsters

April 29th, 2010

We have been celebrating poetry week at ECA this week, which means I’ve had my students do such exciting things as write poems about their favorite computer topics (among others, HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL).

This week is also the week that the third graders’ pet hamster… well, I’ll let you read what happened:

There once was a hamster named Tiny
Whose prospects were looking quite shiny,
Til one day she died;
The third graders cried,
And made her a coffin that’s piney.

*Note: The last line isn’t quite true, but not many words rhyme with tiny (and I’m sure it would become true were the third graders given the idea).

Two Months

April 18th, 2010

In two months, I will be getting on a plane and heading to Grand Rapids. I suppose that means school is almost done, so I should probably get some more good teaching in.

Now that I’m more-or-less past the survival mode of first-year-teaching, I’m moving on to the stage of enjoying the teaching. It’s a nice feeling. Of course, not every day is as enjoyable as the next, but I love being able to teach interesting topics (and attempting to convince students that they’re interesting), encouraging logical thought, problem-solving, and the like.

This quarter, we’ve begun studying MySQL with the tenth graders. (Most of will want to skip to the next paragraph at this point.) It’s been fun teaching them about the inner workings of how information is stored on just about anything that lives on the Internet. Someday they’ll realize the marketability of the skills I’m teaching them and give me a monetary gift of appreciation, I’m sure.

My parents and me at the cathedral of salt in Zipaquirá

In other news, my parents were just here for spring break, and we got to visit about a thousand points of interest in Bogotá and the surrounding towns. (The above picture is from our visit to Zipaquirá—a salt mine-turned-cathedral.)

Of course, the dry spell we’d been experiencing since January broke upon their arrival, so we had to contend with rain while they were here, but at least they got to experience the typical Bogotá climate.

Their visit was busy but really wonderful—I couldn’t have asked for a better break!

It is dry here

February 23rd, 2010

It’s been unseasonably hot in Bogotá as of late (well, Bogotá doesn’t have seasons per sé, but it’s not supposed to get this hot).

Part of the reason for this is that it hasn’t rained. But today it did—for about an hour. I guess that’s about enough to wet the dust down a little so we don’t have to breathe as much of it.

No Car Day

February 5th, 2010

Yesterday was “No Car Day” in Bogotá, meaning that no four-wheeled personal vehicles could be driven in the city. This only left buses, taxis, motorcycles, bikes, and feet for the city’s 8 million or so people to get around in or on, but it sure made traffic run more smoothly.

I noticed that people with SUVs were apparently exempt from the personal-vehicle ban. It might have something to do with the loophole in Colombian law that if you put a toolbox in your “truck,” you can register it as a service vehicle (although I’m not entirely convinced that it wasn’t simply because SUV owners generally are not required to follow rules, regardless of their country of residence).