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Assignment 2: Setting the stage

Written on: Monday June 15th, 2009

A journal entry from: El Salvador, San Salvador

I had not realized how ¨prissy¨ I was until I came to El Salvador. There are insects everywhere. Indoors, outdoors, in my drawers haha. The house that I live in is somewhat of an open concept. The windows do not have screens (although I have seen them in other houses) and bugs and lizards can move freely between them when they are open. I´m pretty dirty all the time, but I have resisted taking two showers a day. I´ve become accustomed to going to bed ¨swampy¨ (as Larissa would say).

The first few days have been really hard. I was having a lot of trouble sleeping. Being a foreigner is very difficult. I was nervous because I didn´t want my shyness to be interpreted as coldness towards my host family. I´ve been pretty intimidated by not being able to speak the local language so it´s been hard to kind of break out of my shell, so to speak.

The reality of San Salvador is also quite diffifult to deal with. I live in a gated community. You have to pass a security guard with to get into the neighbourhood that I´m living in and all of the houses have a tall wall surrounding their properties. Many of the walls are lined with barbed-wire and some with shards of glass embedded in the cement. I feel fine during the day, but venturing out at night is kind of scary. I usually take a taxi home if it´s after 7pm. 

I finally had a some good sleep last night. I´m usually tossing and turning all night, but last night was great! My host family and I have finally started to warm up to each other. Even though I don´t speak spanish, I´m making an effort to try to communicate with them. It was a little intimidating at first, but we´re starting to develop a system where we can patiently try to figure out how to get our messages across. They have been so hospitable and friendly. Their kindness has been such a great help as I attempt to adjust to my new environment. I also have a really strong support system. I share a room with Ritha (although she will be moving out today into her host family´s house). We´ve been together all day, everyday since Thursday. It´s going to be so hard to sleep alone tonight and to wake up tomorrow without our mutual grunting at the early morning noises in the house.

I got here on thursday and I haven´t had any time to just relax and absorb my surroundings. The teacher´s training/orientation began on Friday and continued through Saturday and Sunday. I´m going straight into my work week without a break. In a way, it kind of feels like this is my life. Almost as if there was no major transition (apart from me being somewhat guarded and nervous. But it´s gradually getting easier to let go). I got here and I´m just ¨doing¨. No time to really think about it. It´s exhausting but it has also kept me busy and prevented any major meltdown(s) haha.

Today is my first day as an intern. Because this school cycle has so many volunteers Rachel (my boss) wants to take advantage of having three interns at her disposal. So in addition to planning my lessons and teaching, I will be:

- meeting with the other teachers periodically to talk about what they have found to be effective teaching methods and organizing a wikipage as a resource for future teachers

- attempting to organize weekly conversational events for students to practise their english in a more relaxed social setting

- setting the groundwork for CIS students to be able to engage more with their communities. The plan is to organize a group of students who are interested in doing some community service and working with them to see what kinds of things they can do in their communities. The goal is to have a devoted group of students who can carry on these projects independently after we leave.

There are so many more things that I would like to write about, but I think that this will suffice for my second assignment.I hope that this gives you a good idea about where I am and what I´m doing.


From anna.=) on Jun 15th, 2009

Alice this time seems so crazy for you but so exciting. I'm so happy to see your getting an experience of a lifetime! :)can't wait to read more of your adventures! lol take care!

From Kate on Jun 16th, 2009

Oh man, I am so jealous stuck here in my cube... I bet the food is OUTSTANDING. Central-American cuisine = yumtastic for coeliacs! I'm glad to hear you arrived intact and are already diving in! Enjoy, dahling!

From Charles on Jun 16th, 2009

That's fantastic, I'm so excited for you. Sounds like you're enjoying it and I'm sure you'll make a big impact on all you touch.

From Clara on Jun 17th, 2009

I know EXACTLY what you mean about just feeling like this your life and there was no huge transition. Its a really different dealing mechanism than I'd expected I'd have.

From Yenny on Jun 17th, 2009

It's ok to take showers twice a day :P lol don't be dirty

From chris on Jun 17th, 2009

very exciting...the world won't be the same anymore after this experience... some think about food... and some I know of did not know how to get out of there...

From Adela on Jun 18th, 2009

Hi Alice, Congratulation on your Excellent marks, "A+". Today your mom told me told me about it. It is a rewording effort on your part and we are all proud of you. I was glad that you included me on your list so that I can see how you are doing. I am glad that you are doing okay. Please avoid drinking water in town, it may not agree with you and a diarrhea would be hard to get rid of. If I were you I would boil lots of water and keep it in the room covered and when you go out can put some in a bottle to take with you. Also you can wash your teeth with it. Please don't take me wrong. Alberto admires you for your courage. If you need anything please contact me any time. Take care and keep in touch. Love, Adela and Alberto