Sunday, September 28, 2008

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Friday at 12:30 we held our first session of parent/teacher conferences. We have them the last Friday of every month. Not really knowing what to expect, I was panicking slightly beforehand, because I didn't have any grades ready yet (embarrassingly enough, I'm still organizing myself). All I had known was how parent/teacher conferences were for me when I was growing up in school: sign up for a 15 min. slot, come with the parent to the classroom, sit down with the teacher, and talk about academics. I don't know if Friday was how all conferences will go, but it wasn't what I was expecting at all. The parents all showed up at around 12:40 and sat in a classroom while the homeroom teacher addressed general issues such as putting names on homework, etc. Then the parents lined up to talk with the homeroom teacher one-on-one. I didn't have a translator, so only a few of the parents who know English or had older children to translate approached me. A lot of them were more supportive than I was expecting, which was another pleasant surprise!

If anything else, Friday showed me how much work I have to do in organizing myself and in getting grades ready. Hopefully I will be better prepared next month or the parents may not be as supportive and understanding! Until then, it's time to get back to work!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Like Bananas......?

Here are some random observations:
  • All car alarms sound the same
  • Bananas and grapefruit are really cheap, so we consume them daily
  • Roosters crow at all hours of the day (contrary to my belief that they only crowed a few times in the morning)
  • Frogs here are huge (one hopped into the house last night) and sound like video game sound effects
  • Sidewalks are narrow, uneven, and sometimes non-existent. Most people walk on the streets anyway
  • Pedestrians do not have the right of way, so you have to walk defensively
  • Most intersections don´t have traffic lights, and no one pays attention to the ones that do
  • Days start early. A lot of people are up and walking around as early as 6:30 A.M.
  • Plumbing isn´t the best. Flushing toilet paper is not allowed in a lot of bathrooms (including the ones at home)

That´s all I can think of for now. These are just examples of small observations and changes I´ve seen here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Dream Come True

Friday after school eight of us (seven missionaries and one local acting as our male representative) left behind the city and school papers in search of beauty and clean air. An hour and a half after boarding a bus, we found ourselves at our destination, a National Park.

The park was everything we could have dreamed it being! The only housing they had available was a cabin to accommodate a group of 20, but it was well worth it for only $7. Because there were so many beds, we all claimed top bunks! The room was clean with beds complete with sheets and pillows, three sinks, flushing toilets, and showers with good water pressure and warm water! I didn't take into account the air being cooler at a higher elevation (silly me), so I didn't bring a sweater and actually experienced the feeling of being cold! We arrived when it was dark, so we couldn't see around us, but it was enough to know that we were surrounded by trees, green vegetation, and clean air!

Sabbath morning we ate breakfast in their cute little dining hall, which had a view overlooking the lake and mountains. We were told to be there at 7:00, but the food wasn't actually ready until 7:40 (we should have known). It was a "typical breakfast,"so I was told, which I found to be scrumptious: beans, scrambled eggs, plantains, tortillas, and cheese. I was just thankful it was vegetarian, since I don't think many vegetarians exist out here.

We spent the rest of the morning hiking around to three different waterfalls and up a mountain to a cloud forest with our guide, a short man of pure muscle. I'm fairly certain our guide could have run up and down those mountains all day without stopping! I also had the feeling he was laughing at us the whole time, because we were so excited about everything and couldn't hike very long or fast without needing a break or two. The waterfalls were amazing! The whole hike took around 5 hours mainly because we swam each opportunity we got at the waterfalls! Since it felt like 100% humidity, the water felt so good and clean!

The whole hike I felt like I was walking in a dream. The closest thing I had ever experienced to jungle had been an exhibit at the Omaha Zoo, so it felt unreal to walk around in one all day! Unfortunately, the only wild life I saw were a few birds, butterflies, and a lizard. Our guide tried to point out some sort of wild chicken, but I was in the back. We pulled back into Comayagua that same day on the bus before dark around 4:00.

The bus system itself was an adventure. I had never even been on a bus in the States! The bus we took from Comayagua was fairly nice and resembled a Greyhound. The bus we took back, however, was completely different. It looked like a beat up school bus with two different types of seats inside and a duct-taped windshield. I also found that once a bus stops at a station, you're supposed to move quickly to get on. I was just standing up when I heard Sasha ask, "Whose bag was that?". I looked up to see a short man taking off towards the bus with my backpack slung across his shoulder. I quickly ran to retrieve it, even though I'm sure he meant no harm by it. He just wanted me to hurry.

Overall, it was a good break from the city that we all needed. We're looking forward to our next opportunity to do it again!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

This morning teachers and students gathered at the school at 6:00 (we arrived a little late, because we knew 6:00 was a time just to make sure everyone was ready to leave at 6:30) for the big Independence Day parade. We may have started marching at 7:30, but we ended at 10:40. I was thankful we were fourth in line, because the sun was brutal today! I got my first sunburn since I've been here, so we all (all the missionaries at least) have red v's on our chests from our polo shirts. The parade was fun, though! Each school had a band and cheerleaders, so it was fun to see all the colorful costumes! Some of them were pretty crazy! One school had three guys on stilts. Our students were all so cute (I'm not sure some of them would appreciate that if they heard me say that)! The students in the band were wearing blue and white soldier-type uniforms with tall hats and long blue capes. Our little cheerleaders were dressed in white and pink tu-tus. We (the teachers) marched in the back, which was fine by me, because we weren't directly behind the drums. While the parade was fun, I was so drained by the end!

Later today a soccer tournament was held at the school, so Kayla (my fellow house-mate) and I went to watch. I couldn't believe people would want to play soccer in the hot sun after marching in a parade all day, but then again, soccer is a big deal. I still can't get over how good everyone is at soccer here, especially the guys. When the guys play, they can be so brutal! I'm mesmerized by how quickly they can maneuver the ball with their feet!

That was my exciting day! I hear thunder, so I had better end this while I still have power!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Team Spirit!!!

Honduras is unified under the colors of white and blue and the sport of soccer. People here live and breathe soccer. Today one of my students in 7th grade wrote a poem about how soccer is everything to him, including his food, his air, and his dreams. Last night a few of the teachers and I gathered to watch Honduras play against Jamaica. Every time Honduras would score a goal, the whole neighborhood would erupt in cheering and fireworks (fireworks go off at least once every day for some random reason or another)! When Honduras won the game, the whole city was on the streets, waving flags and cheering. People crammed into cars and trucks and drove up and down the main street, honking and whistling. I´ve never seen such unification for a passion before! I just thought I might share a little of the excitement!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The First Week of Teaching Over

I survived the first week of teaching and am half way through my second. I was so happy about making it through last week, I didn´t realize that this week would be equally as difficult. Monday last week was probably the hardest day of teaching, so things have been looking up since then. The challenge with first grade is that they have just come from kindergarden, so they´re not used to the system of school. So far my main focus has been on getting them to listen to me and learn discipline. I think they are understanding me better. They understand English pretty well, but they still have a hard time speaking it. Sometimes it helps that I don´t understand them, because they try to tell on each other. I just tell them to be quiet and pay attention, because I don´t understand Spanish. My seventh grade literature class is my favorite class to teach, because I love all the kids in my class! They listen so well, and they are able to converse with me in English!

Today was an exciting day for the kids. It was Children´s Day, so my class threw a party during and after lunch. They ate pizza, hit at a piƱata, and then received presents. Teaching class before lunch was a little difficult, because they were so excited. But I understood where their energy was coming from.

Yesterday I played in my first soccar game. The female teachers were supposed to play against the girls in 11th grade yesterday after school, but only two girls showed up. It was probably better that way, because none of us were very good. We had enough people to play a game, and my team got slaughtered. Towards the end of the game one of my seventh grade boys played on my team and helped us out. I never cease to be amazed at the skill these kids have with a soccar ball! That´s all they play during recess, so they´ve been kicking it around since they could walk!

That´s all the news I have so far.