Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cheesy e-card music and bad italian pop

Is what I am currently listening to. Thanks respectively to the woman at the computer next to me, and the kind people at the internet place. Also I am currently amused by something that just caught my eye on google news, the first line of an article from the guardian: "Exactly one year after Americans re-elected George Bush, the president came face to face with his own toxicity."

OK, all internet randomness aside, I actually have lots to report, now that I have survived my first week of official english-teachingness. Ok, so it´s a 3 day week, but definitely a Loooooong 3 days... On top of being sick, it has involved getting up before 6, and dragging myself, all of my teaching materials, a change of clothes, etc, ALL over the city on various forms of public transportation and on foot, while teaching 2 classes, volunteering at cenit, (plus attending a variety of meetings and lining up a new apartment) and home maybe by 7 or 8 pm (well after dark). Then trying to juggle sharing the daugher's tiny room with the niece, picking out my least rumpled nice clothing from my luggage which is living in the sons' room, and trying to get in the bathroom and/or kitchen in between the 8 other people and 2 dogs that currently call the place home. Good thing I'm getting the hell out tomorrow afternoon! I am officially moving in with 2 other teachers from EIL... one girl is from st. louis, the other is british. The place isn't particularly nice judged by the standards of my current abode, (most especially the kitchen... the oven settings literally consist of min - max) but a place of one's own is certainly nothing to sneeze at. And I will have my own nicely sized room, it has 2.5 baths, a washing machine, and it's in a complex with a guard and whatnot. And the resources of 2 roommates who have been living my life here for months... Sara, the fellow midwesterner, actually even taught one of my classes before me. She's filling me in on all the best bus routes and I'm already planning on accompanying her to the market in Otavalo next weekend, and as she's been there 3 times she can hook me up with all the best deals. Excellent. Come christmas/hanukkah time you too will reap the benefits. Yes, you.

I'm definitely digging EIL... everyone is super nice, they have a FABULOUS library of resources, a kitchen that makes me swoon, and my boss is a solid guy. He's kind of the most uptight and anal person you've ever met, except then you turn around and he's either swearing and smoking or wearing a paper hat and chasing his 4 year old student singing a song about the zoo. And he totally gives it to you straight, plus gives you all the support and/or flexibility you want, all of which is fabulously refreshing after a year of being at the beck and call of mr. micromanager "best wishes for a healthy and happy new year" boss.

As for the actual classes, it's been a little weird so far because I had no idea what to expect. I'm actually very comfortable with my 7 am class for the 4 business people, since it's about the same size and almost the same level as the class I taught in Northampton. But again weird, because I'm picking up from where Sara left off a month ago when they canceled classes, though now they changed their mind. I was warned from the start by justin (boss) that its a problematic class... they haven't really progressed, largely from lack of attendence, and tried to blame Sara. And I got the behind the scenes gossip from Sara that the teacher before her (who was actually her boyfriend... ah a new little incestuous community for me to join!) basically just spoke spanish and hung out with them, so so they loved him and hated her when she actually tried to teach them and they didn´t know anything. Anyway, so I have all this baggage, and a textbook that they supposedly have gotten to a certain point in, except that they clearly didn't actually learn the material since half of them can't even use the past tense, which was like a whole book ago. I can handle partially teaching from a textbook, but it's a bit challenging under the circumstances and when they're supposed to take a test after so many units. I saw the test and there's no way they would ever pass unless I specifically taught only the random specific points it covers. That was great... first day on the job and I'd already run into the classic selling-out challenge for teachers. But crisis averted after a nice chat with justin in which he basically told me, between us, screw the tests and teach what they need to know to progress and see that progress. So I'm only selling out in the aspect that the company, Perforec, which I took to just be one of those generic-corporately-named companies which one wouldn't know or care what type of work actually goes on behind the paper pushing, turns out to actually be a serious petroleum drilling company. Yay being a foreigner willingly supporting possibly the most evil force in Ecuador (and I have the Perforec pen and keychain to prove it!). The "petroleros" think a good time is making a pretty penny out of large scale destruction of ecuador's land, which has the lovely side effects of forcing the indigenous population out, and polluting what remains of the natural resources. I guess at least they have good benefits for their employeees... heh.

My other class is working two afternoons with this 7-year old girl. I'm totally afloat with that one... it's weird because I've worked so extensively with kids, and I've done the english teaching, but I have no clue what to do with the two put together. Kids understand so little of what you're saying, so you really have to be super on top of engaging them in a variety of activities and refining the language that you use. My learning curve is really big on that one... or small... or whatever is bad. So far we've colored a lot and played a few games, loosely related to reviewing colors and animals. Which is fine because she's a bit shy so we are just getting to know each other. But if I actually want her to learn anything I'm really going to have to dig deep and prepare a lot. But definitely a good skill to hone, so I'm not complaining.

OK if you've bothered to read this far I'll get to the good part. So far I'm only teaching these two classes for a grand total of 6.5 hours a week (not counting planning time). At 6.50 an hour plus a generous compensation for traveling offsite, if my math is currect, this earns me almost a whopping $50 a week. But at $200 a month that's already twice my rent! And everything else is so cheap here that I could easily subsist on that much, as long as I don't travel. Which of course I do plan to do, but if I can get some more hours I won't even be dipping into my savings! Which is good news for my plans to do some more extensive south american traveling after I've had it with Ecuador, following by trading up to the other end of the spectrum of the cost of living as a poor culinary student in Santa Cruz.

So, check out my life working out! And I even have some contacts for choirs in Quito that I might be able to join! Once I go home and get some sleep, I may actually be excited by this. Prize to you for finishing all my excruciatingly fascinating ruminations on my week. I can probably russle up some cute KT stories of my own...


  1. Yay, Rebecca! Congratulations on your new place, and your new job, and everything. You rock!

    Hey, guess what I'm drinking right now? Chamomile tea. I feel very Ecuadorian.

  2. You blog girl! Thanks for the details. If they have cervezas in Ecuador, then I too will feel very ecuadorean tonite. Love

  3. Even my tiny canister stove for backpacking has a simmer control. Good luck with the cooking. Kind of like our oven in A1 where you had to put everything on the very top shelf if you wanted it to bake properly. Or when my mom was accidentally cooking on the "self-clean" setting (I can't remember if that actually happened but it sure sounds like her, doesn't it?).

  4. thanks for the encouragement...
    the stove works ok, but it will be fun to attempt baking anything. since a) similar to a1, the broiler doesn't work b) no temp settings! and c) baking at high altitude requires different settings in the first place.