Thursday, March 19, 2015

Six Month Milestone!

One’s Peace Corps service is filled with important milestones: staging, training, swear-in, 1st day at school/site, etc. These milestones help to break up the daunting prospect of spending two years in a foreign country, away from all that is normal and comfortable. One of these such milestones was recently achieved a couple of weeks ago: being in country for six months!

It’s hard to believe that six months have already flown by. It feels like just yesterday I was meeting the rest of the C II-6 volunteers for the first time in Miami. Since then, so much as happened, including a massive upheaval of urban volunteers into rural sites. Those tumultuous few months have finally subsided and given way to some sense of normalcy. 

I have now been in Repelón for a little over a month and life is finally settling down. I’m beginning to establish a routine and this pueblo is starting to feel like home. Currently, I’m working with the 8th-11th grade classes during the mornings and three adult classes at night. So far, the night classes are my favorite. The students are divided up based on what grade they were able to finish during their time in school and range in ages 16 to 55. Despite this large gap, I have been able to create a fun and engaging environment to help teach them some basic English.

 Another aspect of my night classes that I’m enjoying is the fact that I am the sole English teacher and have the ability to teach what I want. With this responsibility also comes the task of creating a curriculum from scratch. While this seems like a bit of a daunting job, it’s a skill that I will hopefully be able to utilize further down the road. 

I just recently acquired the help of a counterpart for my night classes and this has honestly been a blessing in disguise. She has been a huge help when I need something clarified in Spanish. Before, when I was teaching these classes solo, I would struggle sometimes to answer student’s questions or find the right way to explain a concept. Granted, my Spanish has improved because of these classes. However, it’s still nice to have a native speaker backing me up when needed.

Teaching vocabulary to my adults through the use of pictures
Outside of the classroom, things are going well. I’m starting to bond with the other teachers at my school. The coordinator at my school (equivalent of a guidance counselor) is a talkative, spunky woman that likes to give me a hard time whenever she can. Between her and the three janitors, I’m constantly on my toes, warding off the latest zing and trying to come up with a witty comeback in Spanish (which is honestly a tough thing to do). The other teachers have accepted me at the school and treat me like one of them, which is an awesome feeling. There has been talk about starting a possible English class with some of the teachers, so hopefully that will help me feel even more a part of the team.

If the first six months are any indication of what the rest of my service here in Colombia will be like, I’m in for some great times and adventures. I’m excited to get to know the people of this town better and trying to get some other projects off the ground. I’m hoping to start a running club at my school and possibly organize some town wide “health walks” at least once a month in accordance with the running club. These projects, and others that I’m sure will pop up, will hopefully make the next six months just as adventurous and intriguing as the last.

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