Adios, Honduras. Bonjour…

Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.  We left Honduras on Sunday July 1.  Spent three nights in Seattle, two in Providence, RI, and now here I am on the Next Adventure, 10 days of learning French.  More about French in another post.  First, a Honduran wrap-up seems appropriate.

I have trouble articulating My Honduran Experience.  It wasn’t “life-changing,” but of course I learned a lot–about teaching in a non-English-speaking environment, about Central America, about Doug, and Doug-and-me, about insects, about Spanish.  Not sure what it adds up to, but it was worth spending two years.

Leaving Honduras.  In the airport, I was nostalgic for all the Spanish I was no longer going to hear.  My Spanish has improved, but there’s always more to learn, from plain old vocabulary words (does acribillado mean “murdered” or “shot down”?) to slang words, to words I’ve heard countless times but that still don’t come out of my mouth automatically.  Like when you pass someone, they often say “adios.”  I’m still stuck on “Hola” or “Buenos dias.”  Perfectly acceptable greetings, but I just never became able to add “adios” to the mix.

Similarly, I never learned to end a conversation on the phone.  When eavesdropping, I still can’t tell when a phone conversation is ending;  it just seems to trail off.  However now, when I’m on the phone, I have learned not to say “bye” or the equivalent.  Just “bueno,” “ok,”  or the Honduran equivalent of okay:  “vaya pues.”  Which in other countries might be a pejorative meaning something like “get out of here!” … Is it good news that I have joined the ranks of cell-phone users?  I leave my phone on and often manage to answer it, if it’s not interrupting anything. I can even–slowly, painfully–send text messages!

Out for dinner one night last week, I found one characterization of the Good and the Bad of our Honduran experience:  lovely outdoor setting (traditional house-style–a little cube of a building with a wide overhanging roof, creating a porch/patio with plenty of room for tables, hammocks, lounge chairs, etc), decent food  (well, they had only soft drinks, not fruit juice or club soda), good friends, TV not too loud, interesting birds to watch….and/but there were dozens of flies that would not leave our food or our faces alone.  PTuii, go away!

Won’t miss—the food.  It’s pretty repetitive– tortillas, mashed beans, white salty cheese, maybe rice, sausage or tough beef….   Will miss the fresh fruits and vegetables that we could buy and prepare at home.  I am, however, happy to eat green leafy salads again.  And I’m working hard to resist the allure of all the baked goods in the US.

Won’t miss the frustration of trying to schedule advanced English classes as add-ons to the curriculum that students are locked into…. Will miss the enthusiasm of those students: “Miss, why are you leaving? When are you coming back?”  They even asked in English!

Won’t miss the photos of dead or injured bodies in the newspapers. At the airport I bought one last newspaper.  The front page photo was a car full of bullet holes and the headline:  SHOT DOWN IN OLANCHO.  It seems that the day we left, two women and a teenager were killed in downtown Catacamas.  Assailants/motive unknown.  Actually, the day before we left, I was about to say good-bye to someone when he apologized and took his leave:  “I have to go.  Somebody just killed my cousin.”  In the way of things there, one wonders if the two killings are related….  Will miss the security and convenience of living on campus where it was easy to go for a jog around the fields or go out late at night and not worry about personal safety.

I will certainly miss the opportunity to observe nature up close.  So I’ve seen way more cucarachas than I’d like, and the ant bites have bothered me way longer than I bothered the ants—well, okay, I did kill a number of teeny tiny explorers of my neck and the dinner table.  Nevertheless,  I enjoyed watching how the scavenger ants would finish off –or carry off–a cucaracha from night to morning. The chance that I’d see a motmot (see photo, but I didn’t take it)  or a bright orange oriole always kept my jogs interesting.  My new Nook provided me with plenty to read, but sometimes watching nature was way more interesting.

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In the airport there were three different missionary groups:  Purple t-shirt “Junta a obra de Cristo en Honduras – Hechos 1:8”  Join Christ’s Work in Honduras (United Methodist logo); light blue t-shirt “Honduras 2012 – Walk in Love”;  and maroon t-shirt Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International  [map highlighting Honduras and Nicaragua].  Wow, I want to say something about all this person-power and good will–I reckon one must have faith in all those sayings about doing what you can, however small, and in the power of personal connections. I guess that’s what Doug and I were doing—teach a little English, help a few individuals….

I have gone back and forth between countries enough that I experience no “reverse culture shock” nor any major surprises upon returning to the US.  Nevertheless, Honduras to Seattle is a major environmental shift:  While I was running errands (hey, I can still drive!), the radio announcer said the evening commute was about to get rained on.  The sky was gray, but it didn’t look particularly ominous. I didn’t believe the warning, but sure enough, 15 minutes later, it was raining.   Catacamas has marvelous thunderheads capable of providing dramatic rains;  Seattle has heavy skies that drip.  We were supposed to be back to brother George’s between 6 and 6:30 p.m..  When I looked at my watch, it was—yikes!–almost 7:00.  How’d that happen?  Seven p.m is dark in Catacamas, but in the upper left hand corner of the US, it’s not dark till nearly 10 p.m.  this time of year.  It may take another day or two to reset my inner time-gauging clock.

Well, we’re back in the USA.  When will we go back to Honduras?  First I’ve got to eat a few green salads and enjoy a few concerts and plays, recycle my glass and paper, savor the bookshelves of friends, spend a few hours in bookstores and libraries, wear a sweater, and take a few more yoga or tai chi classes.  Then we can talk about going back to teaching more eager students under the spreading guanacaste trees.

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Only ONE more WEEK?!?!?!

Gotta get this out pronto, before the title becomes invalid…The photo: the yellow thing is not a Cheetoh; it is a teeny grating of cheese which missed Doug’s delicious omelette. Perhaps the ants want it for their omelette!

Packing.  Indeed we are leaving here on Saturday June 30, flying out from Tegus on July 1.  I guess it’s okay to announce to the world  that one is  leaving town if one does not plan to return in the  foreseeable future.  So it’s time to pack up.  Doug mostly has; but moi?  Reluctant to live out of a suitcase any sooner than necessary, I am doing things like writing my blog and sorting my photos rather than pulling, sorting, and tossing the stuff to be packed (or not).  But I just got some incentive:  We finally looked to see exactly what the airline luggage policy was for this trip, and it turns out that there is something called Excess Luggage EMBARGO.  Never heard of such before.  Apparently the embargo is applied esp. during busy summer travel times on some routes, and for United Airlines, it means that if you are flying out of Lima, Peru, or Tegucigalpa, you are NEVER allowed more than two pieces of luggage (usual size/weight restrictions apply) plus carry-on.   Since I haven’t packed yet, I don’t know for sure, but we were anticipating having 5-6 bags between us.  Hmmm.  Maybe we won’t.  Know anybody traveling from Tegucigalpa to Seattle on July 1 (or thereabouts) who could check a bag for us?

Teaching, what’s left.   I’m still assisting with a couple of classes and mentoring a couple of new teachers.  I’ll be especially sorry to leave “my” Veterinary Medicine students behind. I’ve had them since English 1. They are now in English 4, and guess what? They can speak English! [Gerald, tell your classmates to please send me an email once in awhile for extra credit.] As you can see from the photo, they work hard, and they enjoy a break.

What’s Next.  I’m busy compiling my ‘Best of/Worst of’ list of our experiences of the last two years, but first a little preview of What’s Next (“Si Dios quiere [God willing],” I have learned to say).   We won’t be long in the Emerald City.  On July 4 we’re flying to the East Coast.  I am going to–of all things–language camp!   Well, that’s how I think of it.  The Rassias Accelerated Language Program at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, is my destination.  Ten years ago I spent eight weeks studying Mandarin in Nanjing, China, (re)experiencing what it felt like to be a clueless beginning foreign language student.  With the Rassias method, I’m hoping to pick up some ideas about how to perk up a language class.  I considered going for Chinese II, but instead landed on French, which I can kinda sorta speak.  I’ll see what happens to me (and others) as an intermediate-level student.  (Yes, I’ve been a “student” of  Spanish for the last two years, but not in a classroom.  Since my salary comes from teaching  in classroom situations, that’s the environment I’m investigating. )

And then?  While I’m having fun with Francais, Monsieur Douglas will be looking for sailing opportunities and/or ocean-inspired peace somewhere on the coast.  And after 10 days of intensive French study in NH?   But of course, we go to Montreal, Quebec,  so I can practice.  Then we will make our way to brother Ray in Madison, WI, and thence to Mom in Columbia, MO.  After that?  We’ll land in Seattle for Labor Day (Doug’s daughter’s family is coming up for a wedding and visit), but August is not–heh heh–mapped out.  Seattle in September?  And si Dios quiere Australia/New Zealand (Japan? Philippines?) starting in October.  Doug has arranged for an UNA student to do a three-month internship in Perth (home of Doug’s first wife), and we want to arrive in Perth before Juan leaves in mid-October. At some point (perhaps sooner than we’d like to think) we may have to settle down (in Seattle?  in 2013?) and re-capitalize, or maybe just Rest.  We’ll see.

Critters. Of course, now that I’m about to leave, even if I posted something every day for the next week, I probably wouldn’t  exhaust the topics that occur to me.  I spent the afternoon pasting copies of my photos into three folders, each representing a recurring theme:  Critters, Transportation, and Signs.  It’s still the rainy season (since end of May or so) and it seems like every day features a different insect.  June bugs came on strong in late May, careering off walls and crunching underfoot; then on June 1 after a particularly strong rain, termites were flying everywhere, nearly into my mouth; this morning on my jog, there was a millipede (centipede?) about every four steps, and on our evening walk, the gnats were really bugging me.   There are bigger critters too, but the quantity and activities of bugs still both interest and aggravate me.  Indoors, the teeny ants continue to surround and decimate or transport food (or dead cockroaches) I have not swiped up, and outside the big leafcutters continue their wavery green parades from tree to den, often a football field length apart.  Geckos are always present, noisy at night, and surely as fast as cheetahs for their size.

I leave you with a parade of some of my animal kingdom acquaintances here in Honduras. Over the summer (finally, I can say “summer”!), as I get nostalgic (or tired of doing my French homework), I’ll send out “Signs” and “Transportation.”   And who knows what else?!

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Only one more month!?!?

Happy Memorial Day weekend!   Students here at UNA are scheduled to start their second trimester this Monday, May 28.  This date has already been preceded by the usual calendar postponements, rumors of change, and extra days off.  I think we’re just two weeks behind the originally  published calendar date, but it feels like longer.  At least for second and third-year students, classes may indeed start.  Their cohorts and class schedules are ready to go.  Fourth year students are preparing to go off for their individual thesis project internships, so they’re on their own schedule.  First year students, mmmm maybe they’ll start; maybe not.  The class schedules are ready, but are the rosters ready?  Tomorrow we’ll know.

I’ve asked a few non-first-year students how their university life has changed since the arrival of 2000 new students (on top of the 1,300 who were already here).  Of course, food is cited first—smaller portions, not as well-prepared. The next problem is lack of study space—dorm rooms are pretty crowded anyway, so students normally study in the library, outside in a park kiosk or a passageway, or in unused classrooms.  I’m told the library is crowded and way too noisy;  the classrooms are all being used for classes.  Furthermore, it’s the rainy season, and outside is not always an option.

New students wear white t-shirts for the first weeks, so it’s easy to see where they are.  When they first came, the lines of “white shirts” were everywhere. I don’t know how many new students have given up and gone home already, but the ones I’ve talked to are not complaining; they express gratitude for the opportunity to get an education.  Some do admit to being a bit challenged by the general lack of communication and the sudden schedule changes.

Our life has not changed unduly with the advent of so many new students.  Well, maybe the water pressure is more iffy at certain times of the day.  And there is definitely more noise from the new dorm behind our house, especially at night after classes and study time finish  at 9:30 until about 11:15 when the girls either go to bed or perhaps start studying again.

Visitors.  Last weekend, UNA was visited by a group of eight students and two teachers from Ferrum College in southwestern Virginia.  English-speaking UNA hosts were mobilized, and the visitors saw the best that Catacamas and the University had to offer.   Game night provided a good opportunity for students to have fun and talk to each other.  I particularly liked the free-spirited, bi-lingual Scrabble game. (Just don’t ask me about some of the words!)

Return of the Fumigators.  Three times this week we’ve been sprayed.  Most unpleasant.  There is no advance administrative warning that the fumigators are coming; they barge into offices, classrooms, dorm rooms, homes with a 30-second warning to get out and stay out for an hour (really you need to stay away longer).  Or they spray through windows if the door is closed.  There may be another side to the story—something about dengue and the need to kill mosquitoes bearing the disease—but there has got to be a better way.  (There is; I think it’s called getting rid of water where larvae are breeding.)  And the really disturbing thing is that one feels there is no recourse, nobody who would listen to one’s objections and offer an  apology or any acknowledgment that there is a better way to deliver this poison, much less a need to discuss alternatives.

Weather.  It’s the rainy season.  From about May to July, depending on where you are in the country, it rains almost daily, sometimes several times in a day. The solar dryer is completely undependable.  Worse, there is flooding and destruction of roads.  When we went to Talgua caves with the Ferrum College students last weekend, the road and the river were competing for space.  Our little bus made it through just fine, but I wonder if all the eggs in the pickup truck survived.

Since I’ve been in Honduras, I have struggled with words for seasonsIf I am talking to a Honduran, I don’t use the words “spring,” “summer,”  “fall,” or “winter” to refer to times of year in the US, because people here often have a different relationship to those terms.  (Actually, one never hears “spring” or “fall.”)  Here, verano (summer) is used to indicate the hot season, especially the time preceding and including Holy Week (Feb-April),  and invierno (winter) is used either when it is less hot, or when it is raining.  The daily weather report in the paper a couple of weeks ago gave me some comfort about my discomfort with using the term invierno. After describing the current low front and upcoming rains, the weather man answered a question that has apparently bugged more people than just me.  He said that Honduras doesn’t have “invierno”; it has only temporada lluviosa (rainy season), and temporada seca (dry season). But then I also felt some confusion.  I figure if Hondurans want to call the time from June to January “invierno,” that’s their business.  After all, what they call a “taco”  bears little resemblance to the Mexican item of the same name, and no one seems to care.

Short-timers.  My English Language Fellow contract is up in a month, on June 30.  More about The Future next time (will we still be here “next time”? Will I get another blog or two written?).  So if you have any burning questions to ask while I’m still here, or pictures you want me to take, let me know quick.  Meanwhile, I will focus my last month’s professional efforts on writing curriculum and coaching a couple of new Honduran English teachers that are joining the staff.

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In the News

http://www.latribuna.hn/2012/04/12/finaliza-1v-conferencia-nacional-para-profesores-de-ingles/

Look!  I’m in the paper! Yup, right beside the couple celebrating the upcoming birth of their firstborn (see below) and just above the photo of little Ashley (not shown), who “celebrated her birthday surrounded by the love of her family.”   As colleague Janet pointed out–and I could say the same–it may be the only time in her life she makes the Society page.   Do any US newspapers still have stories like this one:

“TEGUCIGALPA. – Joy prevails in the home of the couple Elvia Merlo and Edwin Calix, before the birth of their firstborn, to be carried to the baptismal font with the name of Gabriel Alejandro.  Caught in this happiness, a group of coworkers of the boy’s father gave a feast in honor of the baby.  The organizers of the party were Sandra Barahona, Lurvin Rivera, Melissa Giron, Dunia Martinez and Ela Cruz.  After rounds of entertaining games, attendees enjoyed an exquisite menu and showered good wishes on the prospective parents.”

My story is that in March, thanks to my unique position as English Language Fellow, I was the opening plenary speaker for a national English teachers conference (I’m guessing maybe 100-150 people were present for my speech).  Putting together a Speech, as opposed to a class or even a workshop, was challenging.  Never one to be ready too far ahead, I finished preparing the speech in the hotel hallway the night before.  The hotel was the scene of a corporate poolside party six floors down, and other people’s needs to sleep (or write speeches) is certainly not a reason to curtail music volume before 11:30 pm or so; fortunately the hallway was reasonably insulated from the noise.   The speech went off well enough except for the segment where I wanted to point in rapid succession to some things on the  screen–the giant screen, waaay above my head.  I just focused my points on the bottom of the screen and kept on going.

About three weeks later, newspaper La Tribuna published photos of the event.   In the photo with me are  two colleagues, Janet Espinosa and Katrina Spillane,  along with the embassy Regional English Language Officer, Michael Rudder, and  Stuart Flaherty, the young man on the left, who had just introduced himself to me as a friend of my niece Liz.  As high schoolers, Stu and Liz knew each other in University Presbyterian Church youth group in Seattle.  I love “small world” encounters!

Visiting Professor:  We forgot to alert the University’s newsletter reporter to an exciting English department event which followed the Tegucigalpa conference, so I will  tell you here, attempting to capture some of the florid style in which the article would have been written:

The week of March 23-31, right before Semana Santa, the UNA hosted a distinguished Visiting Artist, my friend Dr. Janet Kvam, originally from Columbia, MO, but now residing in the Chicago area.  A popular violin teacher and adjunct faculty at McHenry County  College, Dr Kvam held classes of UNA students spellbound with selections ranging from J S Bach to  American fiddle music.  She did her best to honor their requests to play theme music from Titanic or Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.  While some students had played trumpet or drum in the high school band, for many students Dr Kvam’s appearance with the violin was their first up-close exposure to the instrument and its music. Another attraction of Janet’s visit was the opportunity for students to speak to an American who spoke no Spanish, so their hard-won English skills were put to the test.  For the Advanced English class, Janet gave a Music Appreciation lecture.  At the end of the lecture, of all the samples of music she had played, it was the Gregorian Chant that one student wanted to copy to his MP3 player.  By the end of her week-long stay, she had addressed at least  nine different groups of Hondurans, from University professors to 20 children in a one-room school near the UNA–a lot of teaching for a professor on her Spring Break!

     

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Respite

 

        

Happy Easter!  Semana Santa (Holy Week) has just finished, and the 2000 new students (see “Y2K”) are not here quite yet.  (They’re scheduled to arrive this week  April 10-15.)  The 2nd and 3rd year students, as anticipated, were given an extra week of Semana Santa vacation, so they’re not here yet either.  That means things on campus are very quiet at the moment.

 Semana Santa is the height of summer for Hondurans.  Verano “summer” means the hot and dry season (March to May, give or take a month or two), and Semana Santa means the week that everyone (two million out of a total eight million population) travels, or  at least goes to a source of water to cool off.  Some also observe traditional events associated with the last days of Christ.  Last year, Doug and I stayed home, avoiding the crowds.  We had some nice lunches with other faculty who stayed local, and then Doug’s son Ross came to visit for part of the week; we even went to a river where Doug and Ross managed to immerse themselves in the knee-deep water.  This year, we decided we needed to go somewhere.  Besides, some friends invited us to come visit.

While most beach seekers go to the Caribbean North Coast, we headed south to the Pacific–Tiger Island, better known by the name of its only town, Amapala.  While full of beaches, the island doesn’t come through with the hotel-on-the-beach (not even room-with-a-view) concept.  Not so good for spoiled tourists, but maybe a good way to keep beaches open to everybody.  We managed to get a room overlooking the ocean (“You want that room?  But it doesn’t have a TV!”) in an otherwise undistinguished hotel on Playa Negra.  Although the room was in a concrete block “cabana,” the beach was uncrowded, the sea breezes on the porch were fresh, and the seafood freshly harvested. (“What kind of fish do you have?”  “Oh, it’s a big fish!”)  True to its name, the beach’s sand was very dark, making all who touched it appear as if they had been playing in the mud.  There were no seashells or pebbles to collect, so we contented ourselves with bathing in the warm water and watching the fishing boats come in and out, the multi-generational family units come and go, and the beach dogs tumble over each other in the sand.

      

We checked out the town of Amapala, once the Pacific port for Honduras, now trying to revive itself as a tourist attraction with the help of three million euros from the Andalucia (Spain) development corporation. We wondered what the place might have been like in its heyday.  The best symbol of its current state is in the lovely renovated park, a small but evocative building labeled Casino 1933.  Decked with a clothesline at the entrance and a sign declaring it to be private property, the gray concrete edifice looks more like a bank in need of a facelift.  While other buildings in town have received a new coat of cheery yellow or orange paint, the stony faced Casino is perhaps awaiting Phase II of the Amapala rebirthing project. We also visited one of the other beaches, Playa Grande. Also true to its name, Big Beach was bigger than Black Beach and full of people and beachfront restaurant-shacks.  We did not make it to the other main beach on the island, Playa Burro.  Based on the donkey braying that punctuated our days at Playa Negra, I’m guessing that Playa Burro lived up to its name as well as the other beaches lived up to theirs.

Playa Negra

Playa Grande

We also took some walks on the curiously paved, multipurpose road that ringed the island.

    

From Amapala, on Wednesday we took three different buses (the ubiquitous yellow school buses from all over the US, reused here as the cheapest form of public transport) to  San Marcos de Colon. Located in the department (state) of Choluteca (“Oh, it’s hot there!”), San Marcos is at 1000 meters above sea level, and we were happy to be in a place that was not only cooler but also one of the cleanest cities of Honduras.  We were visiting the home of a recent UNA graduate, Maria Jose Ponce, whom Doug helped place in an internship at Oregon State last year.  All day Thursday, all day Friday–it felt a little like spending Thanksgiving vacation with my college roommate: holiday time, no fixed schedule, eating, hanging out with a family and then the extended family, getting to know how someone else “does” the holiday.  Doug and I didn’t have to worry about a schedule or what to do or where to go or how to get there.

I feel like we have now had the complete Semana Santa experience–family time, beach time…we even managed to see one religious procession.  I’m sure the regular UNA challenges and rewards will kick in very soon, but for now I’m grateful for our holy week of rest.

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Y2K

You remember Y2K–all the computers in the world were going to not-know how to go from 19xx to 20xx, and there was a chance the world was going to be really messed up until computers were straightened out.  But starting in 199x, programmers got on the ball, retrained the computers, and we sailed unscathed into the new millennium.

Here at UNA, we’re looking at our own Y2K (though the analogy only just occurred to me, and it’s happening next month).  UNA used to be a little–LITTLE–institution: in 2006, there were 300-400 students in all, all studying Agronomy.   I arrived in Sept 2010, and in December of that year the first majors of Food Technology and Natural Resources graduated (total number of graduates  <100), and the first group of Veterinary Medicine students had just started studying.  So there were maybe 700-800 students total on campus.

In addition to expanding the academic offerings, the university is working on becoming more inclusive–more women, more students from the poorest parts of the country, more students from the various ethnic groups.  This effort began in force last year.  The  entering class in Jan 2011 had 900 students, thereby doubling the campus population.  At first, lines for the student dining room were long, and many of the young men were housed in town and  bussed to campus.  I wrote about the new classrooms that were built.   (If only some acoustic tile had been installed in those classrooms.   The obnoxious echo, combined with the noise of the air conditioning [when it’s working] is not conducive to language learning.)  As with other early affirmative action attempts,  many of these “students of inclusion” were ill-prepared for university studies, so the initial 900 have diminished to +/- 500.  I was told by a reliable source (well, this student leader had exact numbers, anyway) that currently there are 1,160 students on campus.

…. And the entering class will number 2,140. Let’s just say 2K for short.  Next month there are 2K new students coming, and surely things are going to be messed up.  Back in November, about 20 meters from our back door, construction began on a dorm for 320 women (now I’m hearing 400).  The dorm wasn’t finished in January, so the new students were told not to come until March 5 (but returning 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year students started on Jan 14–the on-time start caught us all by surprise).  As of March 1, the roof was not yet on the new dorm.  Students were called and told not to come until April 10.  Now the ceiling board is being installed (will the dorm rooms be quieter than our classrooms?), and it looks like most of the toilets  and electrical outlets are in place.  The raw concrete block still needs to be painted, and plumbing and wiring connected, but they might just make the April deadline.

Two thousand ADDITIONAL  students.  The students are scheduled to spend their first academic term doing propaedeutic studies (I figure that admin decided to jump-start the university education by using such a fancy word for “preparatory education”)  in chemistry, math, and Spanish.   A good idea, devoting time to bring the disadvantaged students up to speed–in the last two years, even the students from decent public schools have experienced many lost days of instruction due to teachers striking for on-time pay.  Except now the 14-week propaedeutic term has been reduced to…who knows? maybe 5-6 weeks.  The new academic term is officially scheduled to start in late May.  Right.

A week from today begins Semana Santa (Holy Week) vacation.  Semana Santa is as “sacred” a holiday as the week between Christmas and New Years.  The weather is getting hot, and people may or may  not go to church, but everyone takes time off and goes to a source of recreational water–beach, river, swimming pool.  My students have told me that it is confirmed that vacation begins on Friday March 30 (not Saturday, although I’ve  seen nothing official),  but they don’t know when they are to come back from vacation.  For the return, students  give various dates, but they acknowledge that all is   Rumor.   My reliable source (see above)  explained that current students will come back a week after the new students come.  Traditionally new students have arrived a week before the old students, thereby gaining a chance to get oriented without being harassed, but this year, there is the additional challenge that the cooks need to learn to prepare food for the near-tripling of the student population.  As for classrooms–nobody is saying; I’d say classroom space is pretty well occupied with the current numbers.  For that matter, will the school maintain the usual schedule of required Saturday morning campus cleanup?  Do they really need all 3,000 students sweeping sidewalks, whacking weeds, picking up trash?  What about the drain on the infrastructure?  Will we experience water shortages or low pressure? Are there sufficient wi-fi signals?

Transparency / effective communication /collaboration are not  features of this campus.  It would be nice to have received a communication “In anticipation of the greatly expanded number of students, we have done  and/or you may expect the following….”  But we live with rumor, speculation, and a lot of shoulder shrugging:  “I guess it’ll all get done somehow.”  Or from the students, “I guess the authorities know what they’re doing.”  In all fairness, I think some–maybe lots of–planning is being done; I am always amazed at how well many events are managed and how many activities  take place (seminars with outside experts, student-organized field training, new certification programs, etc) both on and off campus.  I am often barely aware of the activities, much less the planning that preceded them. After more than a year and a half, and even with a pretty good grasp of the language, sometimes I feel entirely too clueless.

Will UNA’s Y2K be the non-event that the turn of the Millennium was?  Will it turn out that UNA’s authorities, like all those  computer programmers during the 1990s, have really done all the work, and we will sail smoothly on?  Stay tuned….

Sorry there are no pictures this time, but the pressure is on:  my friend since jr high Girl Scouts and piano lessons, Janet Kvam, is coming for a 9-day visit starting today,  and I’ve got classes to teach, and perhaps long-vacation homework assignments to devise.   I’ll fill in the visuals, and other news, later!

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Ask a Student

It’s not as if nothing has happened since last I posted.  The trouble is, life was so busy and interesting, I didn’t have time to write about it.  Then I lost momentum.   So now I have enlisted the aid of my students. I hope that the incentive of being “published” here has aided my 3rd year Agronomy English 2 students in their English learning.  I also hope that their contribution will kick-start me back into a more frequent blogging routine.

In English 2 class right now my students are learning the grammar and vocabulary of daily activities (Cambridge Interchange Intro-Unit 6).  I told them that people are always asking me about the life of UNA students, so  if they wrote the information themselves,  I would print it here.  They were divided into three groups:  weekdays, Saturday and Sunday.  “Weekdays” hasn’t been handed in yet; stay tuned for that one.

There is more individual variation than the descriptions below imply; nevertheless I am letting the students speak for themselves.  If you have questions or want clarifications, feel free to make a Comment.  Also, I invite all UNA readers (I know there are some)–if you would like to make an appearance a Guest Blogger, please come talk to me.

Here are Saturday and Sunday as submitted by Bayron Escober and Marley Flores.  Marley (Sunday) also contributed some photos.

Shedule routine every Saturday

  • We get up at 6:00 am
  • We take a shower.
  • We brusher our teeth.
  • We got dressed with work clothes.
  • On Saturdays we don’t usually go to have breaksfast so we can sleep a little more.
  • We walk on the way to the park, so they can assign us a job at 7:00.

  • We work at the field from 7:00 until 9:30
  • We take our clothes to the laundry and we pick up last week’s laundry.

  • We all clean our room for room inspection.
  • We take a shower.
  • We dressed well.
  • We go to eat at the student cafeteria.
  • We go for the routine roll call every Saturday.
  • We wait for room inspection from room at 12:30 pm
  • Usually right after inspection, we to go sleep or we go shopin in Catacamas from 2:00 to 5:00 pm
  • We go study and do homework from 7:00 until 9:30 pm
  • We watch a movie in the room until 11:00 pm
  • We all go to sleep.

What your schedule like on Sundays?

1.     We get up at 7:30 am.
2.     We get dressed.
3.     We brush our teeth.
4.     We eat breakfast.
5.     We wash clothes by hand….. sometimes we go to Catacamas shopping or to church.
6.     We have lunch at 11:00.
7.     We brush our teeth.
8.     We watch television at 12:30 pm.
9.     We cleaned our plot of grass at 3:45 pm.
10.   We take a shower.
11.    We eat dinner at 5:30 pm.
12.    We rest a while.
13.    We go to study at 7:00 pm.
14.    We do exercise at 9:30… sometimes we eat snacks.
15.    We take a shower at 11:00 when we do exercise.
16.    We brush our teeth.
17.    We put on our pajamas.
18.    We go to bed at 11:30 pm.

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