The rest of the time in Antofagasta was pretty relaxed. We hung around the hostel and wandered around the city to the mall, el centro, and la playa…. and MCDONALDS! Sunday night we got a craving for McDonalds since we had seen the golden arches on the drive in… We could see them from the beach by us, so we just walked towards the arches… about a 30 minute walk haha. Again we had a pack of perros walk with us. It’s amazing how intelligent they are! The leader was on the look out about 20 feet ahead of us, the others surrounded us and picked up the back end. And it was definitely special treatment because when we got to McDonalds, some Chilenos asked whats up with the dogs? They definitely knew we were different and were our guard dogs in essence!
Monday we went to a luncheon that a foundation organized for us in appreciation for the work we haven’t even started yet. We basically had a three course meal, they gave some speeches that I didn’t really understand, and they hired dancers to perform traditional Chilean dances which was really cool. I have videos but can’t figure out how to upload them, sorry! They really went all out for us and are huge supporters of the English Opens Doors program. It’s amazing how much all of the adults love what we are doing, but it’s still so difficult to get the students to want to learn. After the lunch, about half of us left for their actual city and homestay placements, leaving only the 3 of us going to Mejillones and 10 or 11 staying in Antofagasta. We had almost forgotten that we were all going to be separated and wouldn’t be able to speak English anymore!
Tuesday we had a ¨surprise” and went to the foundation’s office and then got a tour of a school in Antofagasta where they have a 6-month volunteer working now. There was artwork all over the walls which was really neat, and the students were cute. We got to visit a preschool classroom, third grade, and high school. Some students knew some English, others were as lost as I am with Spanish. Apparently when we were outside during the break, a bunch of girls were asking one of the program leaders Rio about me and whether I could speak Chino (Chinese) haha. I have a feeling I will get that a lot. However it’s not much different in the U.S. right? It eased my nerves a little to visit the school, but then again, we were visitors, not teachers so they were just excited to see us. AND funniest part, they LOVED our friend Lester… our tall black football player. The girls were all asking to take pictures with them and FREAKING out about it. They loved Levi too, so I think it’s just the girls with any male foreigner. I realized that the girls are probably going to intimidate me a lot. Anyways, the Antofagasta teachers left Tuesday night then. We had a little ¨once” which is what they call their small dinners, and all of the families came to pick them us. It made us Mejillones orphans wanting to meet our families ASAP too… which we did today!
Today we took a truck to Mejillones! It is a tiny tiny town, and they threw us a welcome ceremony at one of the elementary schools. It was really sweet, just like the luncheon, they were SO appreciative of us. We met the directors (principals) of all 3 schools, and they had some children bailan la cueca (tradiational Chilean dance) for us, and had us go up for them to present us with flowers! All of it really makes me want to help teach English more, but I have a bad feeling I won’t be very successful at my school. In Mejillones, there are 2 elementary schools and 1 K-12 school. The K-12 school apparently has the toughest kids, especially the high schoolers since if families can afford it, they send their kids to high school in Antofagasta since it’s only an hour away. For example, mi hermana y la hermana de Amber are freshmen and go to Antofagasta. AND then today we found out that the English teacher we wanted to have me working with is out on maternity leave! There are 2 teachers in the school, 1 for Basico and 1 for high schoolers. The Basico teacher is gone, so I guess they are just not having English classes right now until they get the new teacher, and the high school teacher may be more difficult to work with, not the mention how difficult the students will be. Apparently most have a lot of issues. I got a tour of the school and am even more nervous now. Rio helped talk with the director to decide that I will only work with small groups of the most well-behaved and motivated on rotation for the first month until I am more comfortable. So hopefully that’s what will happen and it won’t be as scary. Even the spanish speaking teachers have trouble disciplining the kids, so imagine me, NO HABLO ESPAÑOL!!! I start going to school on Monday. Hopefully I’ll get a few days to observe before I have to have a lesson planned, but I guess I will plan one just in case. I think I’m destined to fail at the school anyways, haha, great attitude though right?? I am just going to accept the truth.
Mi familia es muy bueno!! o mucho? No se… My mom is so energetic, my dad works as a boss in the fisherman factories or something along those lines, and I have a 15 year old sister. And a dog with a snaggle tooth!! haha. I feel terrible because my spanish is so poor, and they think I don’t understand anything. Which for the most part is true, but I understand A LITTLE, if they talk slow enough, but usually it is muy rapido. Luckily, I live basically across the street from Amber, another volunteer, and Erica is about 5 minutes down the street. They also have siblings that help a lot just because they WANT to talk to you, so you don’t have to spend as much time being in awkward silence while you think of something to say that you are ABLE to say. Vidi, mi madre, took me around town tonight after once and then we stopped by Amber’s house, and went and found Erica’s too. Everyone is SO NICE and welcoming, so at least I feel comfortable, just stupid and frustrated for not knowing more spanish. However, we do live on the beach! The water is really cold, but it’s still nice to go for walks on the beach. Mejillones has 3 main streets and that’s it. So tiny! I might go to Antofagasta on Friday to see the regional debate competitions (another part of the English Opens Doors program) that the high schoolers participate in, but we’ll see. I have to figure out how to ask if I can go and then HOW to go haha.
This is all I can think of for now… I’m sure I’ll have more to tell soon! Santiago and Antofagasta pictures up posted, check out the links to the left. Mejillones will be coming soon!