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Monthly Archives: July 2012

It’s been a while guys, but hey I’m on vacation. While I did not go anywhere due to the inability to take the ferry, I did reflect on my time in Chile. Don’t worry I also have event related news, this post is not just going to be me going on and on about my goals for the program going forward and what I want to gain out of the experience. Let’s begin.

Well first of all, I’m starting to like the idea of just going with the flow. As in, if I had to redo the whole what are my preferences for where I want to be placed in Chile thing, I probably would have left it up to chance. We are after all pretty good friends (I’ve won a few poker games and also been helped out in various other situations thanks to him. I just thought of something is chance a him or a her?, I know that we say lady luck but you never hear anything about chance, weird), that way if I did end up at what seems like the end of the world it would have been chance’s doing not mine. While I like the fact that I am not being assailed by intense heat, it’s kind of disappointing not being able to travel. I mean, that was part of the reason I decided to come to Chile. That aside, I think the culture shock that me and my host family have been experiencing has created a very awkward living situation, While they have accepted me in their home and  as a part of the family, this seems to be in name only. Most of the time they hang out in their rooms and it doesn’t matter how much I try to open up to them. I’ll suggest we play a game or I don’t know talk about the differences between Chile and Canada and they’ll say no. So yeah, it makes getting up every morning a little awkward. All that aside, I have decided that I will take this experience as an opportunity to discover myself both as a person and a teacher, sort of a mix between what Katimavik allowed me to do and also the whole process of undergoing  a psychological evolution like a character from a novel. That is to say that while right now I’m feeling disappointed in the fact that there’s nothing to do here, I’m in an awkward living situation and I can’t really use travel as means to escape from it all, come the end of November I will have turned that frown upside down and feel like the experience was all worth it despite having to overcome many obstacles. My other realization has to do with my decision to bring my laptop. While it has allowed me to write this blog and has been a valuable tool for teaching, (despite the fact that the students hate my powerpoint presentations), I feel that if I hadn’t brought it, I would feel better about my situation and not feel homesick or be jealous of the fact that some people got to visit Machu Picchu during their winter break. Therefore, while I will still use my computer, I will not, and guys I know this is a challenge that seems impossible, log on to facebook until the end of the program, there I said it. Facebook is both a blessing and a curse, while I get to see what everyone else is doing, it also makes me feel crappy since they seem to be having such a good time traveling while I’m stuck on this island. I think this decision will make my experience better since if you take the countless hours a person can spend on facebook out of the equation, you have more time to bask in the authenticness of your experience. That’s what made Katimavik so great and I’m hoping this will help reproduce that feeling.

Yesterday was probably the most windy it’s been since I got here. It felt as if a hand of air was pushing me, (I tried walking against the wind and fell while being pushed back, true story). Yesterday was also the first day there was a torrential downpour and a thunder storm. I hear Quebec needs rain. 

So my family left Wednesday to visit relatives and left me in charge of the house. Since I didn’t want to stay home alone and feel even more miserable, I decided to stay with Courtney’s, the other volunteer, billet family. What a change. I don’t know how the last volunteer who stayed with my family could have qualified them as exciting, but while I can’t say it about this other family, they at least showed interest in learning differences between Canada and Chile and just talking and we also played a lot of cards. If you play rummy against me, prepare to lose. The other card game we played is with the Spanish card deck which doesn’t have 52 cards, and is called Truco, I won’t get into the details but it really is a lot of fun. The other thing that was a breath of fresh air was getting the opportunity to improve my Spanish by doing crossword puzzles. I know what you are thinking, Jeff you suck at crossword puzzles in English, how in the world do you plan on doing one in Spanish? While I wasn’t able to find many answers, I was able to find a few and therefore learn new words. Just like in the crosswords I’m use to, some of the clues are random such as ‘Who was the president of Portugal? No date is given. Good luck trying to figure that one out guys. The other thing that was refreshing was the fact that I was able to talk to someone who is relatively close to my own age. Since I’ve been here, I’ve encountered the two extremes, either extremely young or extremely old, Courtney and Jorgito, the son of Graciela, the family I stayed with while my family was gone, are probably the only other people around my age.

While I was there, I also had the chance to cook. I made bread which made me think of the good ol days in Katimavik, waking up early every morning, making bread and just feeling great. It also tastes better than store bought by the way. I also made pizza dough. Experiencing that small Julia Child moment makes me want to cook more. My plan right now is to make mayo cake, French Toast and some Salmon recipe in the near future. I also want to make more bread of course.

I have not traveled very much up to this point for one obvious reason, ferry or lack there of. There is one more reason however, and that’s the fact that I’m planning a trip to Antarctica… And the crowd goes wild! Knowing this trip will not be cheap, I’m making sure that I will have enough money for this epic journey which translates into a two night stay. I also will be going to Punta Arenas in a few days ferry pending to just relax a bit before classes start. Once the program ends, I would also like to visit Valparaiso and Vina del mar. Who knows, I may head back to Canada afterwards, or I might stay till Christmas only time and money will tell.

Finally, while wildlife has been scarce, I am proud to say that there are flamingos here. I know what you are thinking ‘Wait Jeff, what happened to the penguins?’ Well, up to now I haven’t seen any, flamingos on the other hand yes. I don’t know what they can eat in this frozen wasteland, but I think it’s great that they are here. I only wish my camera would agree with me. While I do have pictures of these enigmatic birds, they look more like pink objects since I can’t zoom in enough to get a good shot. 

I just wanted to end this post by thanking my parents for the card with the sunny side up egg on the beach (it came and made me feel the heat of Canada for one brief moment) Still waiting on the parcel though. Also for those of you waiting for postcards, they are coming. Once the semester starts, I will probably be more on the ball when it comes to consistently writing blog posts.

 

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J’ai décidé d’écrire un autre post blog en français parce que ça fait longtemps et c’est toujours bon pour moi de me pratiquer étant donné qu’ici la pratique du français n’est pas fort fort. Pour commencer et je sais que c’est un peu déprimant de dire ceci, j’ai hâte que les cours recommencent. C,est vrai que je suis en vacance. Cependant, il n’y a pas grand chose à faire ici. Certe, je suis à une heure, par auto, de l’Argentine, mais cela ne veux pas dire que je vais pouvoir y aller. Je planifie aller à Puntas Arenas vers la fin du mois, pour quelques jours, pour explorer les environs, mais à  part ça je vais rester ici. Les autres bénévoles dans les autres villes ont beaucoup de chance. Il y en a quelques uns qui participent aux camps d’hiver. C’est une initiative qui permet aux étudiants qui aiment apprendre l’anglais et veulent s’améliorer de le faire dans un environnement d’apprentissage dynamique et divertissant. Pour les autres, ils sont dans des villes assez proches alors ils vont se rencontrer pour faires des choses ou ils sont proches de d’autre pays alors ils vont explorer. Par example, je sais qu’il y a quelques personnes qui vont visiter Machu Pichu. Pour passer le temps, je me donne comme défi de cuisiner à chaque jour. Hier, j’ai fait ma fameuse salade de patates. Malheureusement, j’ai oublié que je suis la seule personne ici qui aime ça quand c’est épicé. Mon prochain défi, c’est faire du pain. Je crois que mon plus grand défi durant mes six mois, sera  l’adaptation à la vie de famille. Alors que vivre avec la famille d’accueil en Nouvelle-Écosse s’est fait facilement, je trouve que le processus ici est beaucoup plus progressif. En dépit d’être une famille, les enfants restent dans leurs chambres et les parents font pareillement. On se rencontre seulement pour manger ou quand on sort visiter un ami de famille. Les parents de la mère arrivent demain de l’Argentine. On verra comment ça se passera.

With only a few days left till the start of the winter break, I’m getting pretty excited. But first, I must let you guys know the big headlines of the past few days. So starting off, there’s the fact that I have been inconsistent with my blogging, that is, if we take in consideration how on the ball I was at the start. This was bound to happen since at the moment I’m pretty busy with dance, getting acquainted and adjusting to my family, knitting a scarf as a Secret Santa present (not sure if I mentioned that in a previous posts) and hardcore lesson planning obviously. Basically, I just wanted to give you guys, my faithful followers, the heads up that I won’t necessarily be able to blog everyday and that there will be gaps.

Also, so far this week, my teaching has been a a hundred times better and I think it all has to do with the  change in the approach. Instead of powerpointing my way to success, I’ve been using games which has really gotten a positive response from the students, and a Power Puff Girls ball which they throw around during class all the while producing simple sentences like ‘My name is…Hey, it’s a start and I’m definitely going to try building on it. Small victories are still victories. Next on my list is exponentially decreasing speaking Spanish and making my lessons more organized so that they look and feel like CELTA lessons. 

On the super plus side, my Spanish has increased a thousand folds thanks to many visits from friends of the family and playing Spanish Taboo, ‘Palabras Prohibidas’. Trying to describe a word in English without using key words is tough enough, well when it’s not your mother tongue it’s even tougher. The first two times I played, I was skipping words like there was no tomorrow. Either I didn’t know what they meant or I couldn’t describe them without saying the forbidden words. The third and fourth times, I owned, well at least as a second language speaker, I averaged three cards every turn which is so much better than one or zero when I started.

The start of this month seems to have brought birthdays with it as I have just been eating and eating. Lets see, three more birthday cakes with a side order of Chilean barbecue which included salmon, lamb, chicken, chorizo and hot dogs. Talk about a feast.

What would a blog post be without a quirky anecdote. Here goes. I met the granddaughter of my billet mom, she’s this cute little four year old girl who speaks Spanish in a way that makes learning German sound easy. Her ability to pronunciate is absent and therefore it makes it really difficult to know what she is saying, even when it’s a simple sentence like ‘Me llama Paula’ sounds more like ‘MedgmmPla’. Anyways, I started trying to entertain her and managed to do so by imitating a donkey every time she would bang a drum, She laughed so hard I thought she was going to die (this went on for over an hour if not more). I never thought donkeys’ were funny especially if you think of Eeyore, but here was this little girl laughing every time I made the sound ‘EE ON’

The winter holiday is almost upon us and like I said at the start of the post, I am super excited. While I won’t be able to compete in the ping-pong tournament, something about no foreigners allowed, I’m going to watch as I’m curious to see the level of competition. I also would like to go to Puntas Arenas, ferry pending, and visit the town, possibly a nature reserve called Laguna Parillar (look it up, it looks amazing) and also go see the penguins. I would like to go to Torres del Pine, but it seems fairly unlikely that this will happen considering buses are not going there right now because of the extremely dangerous road conditions. The rest of the time, I’ll be relaxing all cool, sleeping in, preparing lessons and who knows what else. What will happen during Jeff’s winter break? Read my next blog post to find out.