Archive for August, 2009

Moved In!

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

I have finally moved in to my own room!

Picture of the Castro home

I moved into the Castro home a week ago last Tuesday, after staying with three other wonderful families (the first live across the highway from where I am now, the second family lives about a half hour north of the school, and the third family lives about a half hour south of where I live now, which is about 15 minutes south of school [with good traffic]).

My room was previously a laundry/storage room, so things had to be moved out, peeling paint had to be taken care of, and a new coat of paint had to be applied before I could move in. There was also the issue of getting a bed frame, and then of getting a mattress, which came Thursday evening.

I enjoyed having a chance to stay with so many different families already while here. It was neat to be able to get to know a number of warm, hospitable people. Nevertheless, it sure feels good to have a permanent space; to unpack my suitcases and call a place home for awhile.

The picture above is of the front of the house. It’s in a conjunto (basically, a gated community) called Marantá. As you might be able to see from the picture, it’s two stories, plus a loft. The loft, which was my room while my bedroom was being fixed up, sits over the dining room and living room and serves as the office.

My room (queue the following video) sits on the main floor, just off of the kitchen. It’s a little small, but the bed fits, and I fit on the bed (mostly). Additionally, it has four walls and a door. I even get my own bathroom, though I have to take my showers in the downstairs bathroom, since that one has hot water by means of an electric water-heating shower head. Yes, I’ve found that it’s wisest not to touch anything metal while taking a shower.

Staying Alive

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Well, the first full week of classes has passed, as has the weekend, and I am still alive.

It’s the littlest of things that can make your day go poorly—things like the network not working so that you can’t (a) print a syllabus or (b) have all your students go to Google maps at the same time. Then there’s standing up in front of class and realizing you forgot to prepare a lesson for them (OK, that one hasn’t exactly happened yet).

Everyone who says anything about the first year of teaching says that it’s difficult. I guess they’re right, so I’m trying to survive.

Of course, I’m hoping to do more than survive, since there are also many things to enjoy about teaching as well. Certainly the most enjoyable is that I get to work with people. It surely is a privilege to be able to interact with so many students, other faculty, and staff each day.

Another thing I enjoy about teaching is that I can help students realize that the world is much bigger than they may have thought (e.g. there’s more to the Internet than Facebook, email, and instant messenger).

I’m looking forward to pushing students to learn more about computers. I’m teaching the tenth graders some web things: HTML and eventually programming (PHP) and maybe even databases (MySQL). We’ll see how far we get. I’m also hoping to introduce some of the younger grades to programming, including Alice and logo programming.

I don’t have any pictures of myself teaching yet, but here’s one of me near the top of a mountain that borders Bogotá:

Me on Monserrate.

I’ll try to write more about that weekend when I get a chance. In the meantime, you can see some pictures from that trip over here.

La Batalla de Boyocá

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Tomorrow is El dia de la Batalla de Boyocá (The Battle of Boyocá Day) here in Colombia. It is also the first day of school for students at El Camino Academy. Just as the battle of Boyocá gained Colombia’s independence from imperial Spain 190 years ago, so will tomorrow mark the students’ independence from the oppression of summer break. I am sure you appreciate this parallelism as well as the students do.

Tomorrow is a half day, filled mostly with a picnic for students, parents, and staff. There will also be an hour’s worth of classes, meaning that I will see my Algebra II students for ten minutes.

I apologize for not updating recently; I’ve been quite busy preparing for classes to start, attending meetings, addressing people’s computer problems, attending meetings, practicing my Spanish, being ribbed for my Argentine accent, attending meetings, eating many new types of food (particularly fruit), drinking many kinds of juice, attending meetings, and living out of a suitcase in three different homes.

Also, I’ve had a few meetings.

I hope you are all doing well. I’ll try to post some pictures soon.