When I started teaching Chileans English, I was extremely disappointed by my inability to teach them. So much so that I even questioned whether I should be a teacher and even asked my CELTA teacher for advice. Well all that has changed. Each day, I wake up looking forward to teaching and being with my students. Sure, I still have bad days, but I think that comes with the territory so you just have to go with  it, whether it’s good or bad. Also by relying more on worksheets and games, the students seem to be more interested and participate more actively. Now, not all the levels like the same things, some like games, some like worksheets and some like a mix of both. It removes a bit of creativity on my part, but hey, that’s a small price to pay to get the students excited to learn.

I know what you are thinking, I’m crazy to start an online Spanish class. That may be so, but the more stuff I can involve myself in the less I’ll remember the sad fact that I’m on an island, at the end of the world. This will also be a good way for me to improve my Spanish, talking with people is helping but not cutting it, and also learn about Chilean culture. My first assignment is due Monday, wish me luck.

Next week is a religious week. Despite this or maybe because of this, I will have the opportunity to participate in a ping-pong tournament. The tournament will take place on August 31st, I’m bringing it home to Canada baby! Lets hope that my skills are up to the task.

Tonight I am going to be dancing Cueca. At first the dance scared me mainly because of my inability to coordinate my feet, there’s a lot of footwork involved, and also trying to break the habit of approaching the dance like a martial art (I move, stop, next move…) Not anymore, I really like the dance, I know the moves so all that’s left is to work on the footwork and making it look pretty. Some of the other dancers there are even impressed with my Cueca dancing, going so far as saying I need to bring this dance to Canada. What do you guys think? You imitate the nuptial ritual of the rooster and the hen, look it up, it’s well worth it. Another thing I realized, hopefully I’m wrong here, but Canada doesn’t have an official dance, that is unless you consider bump and grind an actual dance (please don’t). I don’t know how this didn’t shock me before. Dance is extremely important when it comes to cultural identity and therefore having a national dance is almost essential. Without it, it’s almost like the culture is incomplete.

I’ve started coaching public speaking and so far things are going very well. My student’s pronunciation is near-native-like except for a few problematic words like ‘astonishing’ mainly because of the lax a sound. Now the challenge will be for her to learn it by heart and also add tonal variation and body language as well as be able to answer the judges questions on her topic. There’s still a lot of work to do, but I like the progress we are making. If anything else, I’ll be able to travel to Punta Arenas for the tournament and I also get to stay in a hotel. How far can my student go? Who knows. But to me the sky’s the limit and I can’t wait to see the final result of all her hard work.

What to do when it’s raining outside and there’s nothing to do? Make bread of course. That’s right I made bread, but not just any bread, a caramelized onion loaf. One word: Yum! The other volunteer was being given a Chilean saint name that means ‘snow’ and therefore she also did some cooking. She made an amazing chicken, with rosemary, oregano, white wine, green onion, cilantro, olives and plums (you heard me). It was absolutely scrumptious, I will definitely be asking for the recipe. Thanksgiving is slowly approaching and since the date is different in the States and in Canada, I’m going all out and planning a Thanksgiving dinner. I want to cook a turkey (for the first time), make stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and for dessert, this may be ambitious but hey when in Rome, an eggnog pumpkin pie. If anyone has good recipes for stuffing and tips on how to cook the turkey I would really appreciate it.

I have finally realized why my family stays in their little bubble. It may be a bit of culture shock but it’s mostly a language barrier. Apparently my Spanish is horrible. (Thanks a bunch eight Spanish courses including for in university. I think it would be a lot better just starting from scratch. Sure there would a language barrier but it would be reciprocal. There are so many words that I don’t know and there’s also the fact I’m getting many instances of sound prononciation confusion such as with bs and vs. I think English Opens Doors should tell you that it’s preferable to either know a lot of Spanish or none at all, and warn you that middle ground is a death trap.  

Well I’m off to my Cueca class to improve paso a paso, step by step (literally).

 

 

 

I’m back, and while this vacation did me a lot of good, I also lost a dear friend. That’s right, my camera, basically one of the only tools available to me to document my Chilean adventure. ( the other is this blog if you are wondering) The death of my camera could either be described as a freak accident or the workings of Murphy’s Law. So I took the ferry last Wednesday, arrived in Punta Arenas, checked in to the hostel, which was owned by the sister of my billet mom. Her name was Chaela and along with the receptionist Jessica, they made my stay in the hostel absolutely incredible. They helped me plan my trip to Torres Del Paine and everything. I even wrote an extremely positive review on tripadvisor, check it out, the hostel is called Hostal Terrasur. I’m getting a little off topic here. Anyways, on Thursday, when I was suppose to go pay for the Torres del Paine tour, at the same agency, I was informed that there was another tour leaving that day in 10 minutes to visit a fort called Fuerte Bulnes. I ask how much it was and because it was pretty much nothing, I thought to myself, hey why not. The fort was a really nice place, it overlooks the sea making it feel like the Canadian East Coast. Also, my dream of seeing the marriage between the sea and winter finally came true. There I was walking on the beach, there were rock faces with snow and the sand had some as well, not to mention the powerful presence of the sea. However, just like Murphy Law states, ‘If something is too good to be true, it probably is, something bad had to ruin this magical moment. It happened in the form of me losing my camera. While walking on the poorly marked trail close to the edge, I tripped on a branch or something and as I fell, I watched  my camera live its last moments as it plunged to it’s death. I’m being a little dramatic here, but I did lose my camera. At first I thought, it’s still good, it only fell from a few feet onto the beach and even if a little bit of sand gets in the camera, that’s fine. As I said this, I watched as the waves claimed my camera, and knew that it was the end. If there’s something positive that can be taken from this unfortunate situation it’s that now you have to either follow my blog or just trust me when I say I went here or there since I will not have any photographic proof to back-up my claims. WIthout a camera, I will also be able to fully take in the sights and sounds of the places I visit without having to be a paparazzi. Therefore, from this point  on, my experiences will be more authentic. Another positive would be that I got to taste raw sea urchin. It was pretty good actually. Murphy’s Law works in weird ways, making me trade in my camera for a chance to eat raw sea urchin.

Let me talk a bit more about my short trip. While it was only for three days, those three days were incredible. I met some volunteers working in Punta Arenas, including one from Toronto (Canada represent) and no I did not ask if she was a Leaf fan. The other two were a couple, their names were Estyn and Jessica, both from Michigan. They were nice enough to give me tour of the city and also invited me to see the new Batman movie on the opening day. (Christopher Nolan sure knows how to not disappoint) The ultimate highlight of the trip was Torres del Paine, despite the fact that I had to leave at 5:30 am and also had to endure a hail storm during all but ten minutes of the trip including during a forty minute walk. It was well worth it, Torres is just incredible,there’s no other way to describe it! It looks like the Rockies but better. The landscape is just breath-taking. While we only visited a few lakes and a glacier the scenery was just magical.

On a sidenote, moments of good semeritanism and meeting people are why I like to travel. On the Torres del Paine day tour, such a moment occurred. While on the bus, I was lamenting myself for having lost my camera just before going to Torres del Paine. However, my frown soon turned upside down when I met a married couple also participating in the tour to Torres. Their names were Astrid and Tim. Astrid was from Santiago and Tim was from Seattle. They were in Chile while waiting for Astrid to complete the immigration process to become a US citizen. I talked to them a bit about why I was in Chile and when I told them my camera broke they offered to take pictures of me. I returned the favor by taking pictures of them. They could have just said too bad and left me with no pictures of Torres, but they didn’t and I thought that was just awesome. Tim also had taken linguistic courses so I finally had someone in Chile I could talk linguistics with. While Torres is awesome at this time, I know I have to go back and do some hiking and camping in this amazing National Park in order to complete my experience. The other reason why the Torres trip was so amazing was because of our guide. His name was Jorge and you could tell that he had a passion for what he was doing. Not only was he a beacon of knowledge, he also told some great jokes, not really but I’m sure to Chileans they are just hilarious. For example, why does the uanaco, sort of like a llama, move its tail? Because the tail can’t move the uanaco. Speaking of which, I saw so many of them, too many to count in fact and also rheas which sort of look like ostriches. Jorge even offered to go camping with me when the park opens. We shall see.   

Ok, so back to my reality aka it’s back to teaching. I feel more confortable teaching now that the school supplies have finally arrived and also because I feel refreshed after recharging my batteries during the winter break. I’m ready to give it my all. On top of that, Courtney, the other volunteer here, gave me a great piece of advice which was to remember that if you can make teaching fun for you and the students then that’s all that matters. Everything else is just extra. With that in mind, in the famous words of George Bush Jr., to the teaching and students I say ‘ Bring it on’. 

Knowing that the Chilean day of independence is only a month away, I have started to take Kweka lessons, Chile’s national dance. Look it up, it’s pretty interesting. That’s right, every Mondays and Wednesdays, I’m bringing my boogie woogie dancing shoes. Hopefully I’ll be ready come September. The teacher is amazing and I thinks it’s a just a matter of getting confortable dancing Kweka. I know how to do the moves, it’s just a matter of coordinating myself so that it looks nice. Like they say here in Chile: ‘No es suficiente apprender bailar Kweka. Hay que sentir la Kweka tambien’. Roughly translated it means that knowing how to dance Kweka is not enough, you also need to feel the dance, whatever that means. Wish me luck.

My host family has finally tasted maple syrup only to be slightly disappointed that it tastes like a type of sugar that’s here in Chile called chancaca. Who would’ve thunk it!

I also received a package (Thanks mom and dad) with some goodies+ mitts, tuques and a scarf among other things.

I’ve heard that the second semester is shorter because of all the activities that are planned. While that may be true, I have a feeling a lot more work awaits me this semester especially since I will be adding extracurriculars to my teaching schedule. I will be coaching the daughter of my billet family as she prepares for the public speaking tournament that will be held in Punta Arenas on August 20th. This despite the fact that I was not very good at public speaking. Where’s my brother when I need him? I will also be coaching a debate team as well as starting an English club in which the kids learn English while playing games such as duck duck goose.

That’s all for now, there’s more to come, I promise.

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.

 

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.

Ok, so I would just like to apologize to everyone who has been following my blog for the lack of blog posts in the past week, but I’ve been pretty busy trying to take in all the sights and sounds my little town has to offer and I also have hit a brick wall when it comes to teaching the Chilean students. More on that later in the post. Lets start with something positive.

Last week, I had the opportunity to see a parade and a carnival. While the parade was very simple, it was still great to see that the citizens of Porvenir show their appreciation for their town and all that it represents. Gatineau, are you taking notes? On a side note, it was very cold, so cold in fact that after the parade, I basically sprinted home and relearned what it feels like to be warm by cranking up the heater in my room to the max and staying there until once, which was like at 7 or 8 pm. (The parade was in the afternoon by the way). After the parade, I thought to myself how can this week get any better, oh that’s right, last Sunday was the Carnival and boy did it deliver. Let’s start off nice and easy with a bit of Nascar Porvenir style, with a bunch of derby cars burning rubber down the roads. Next came a float with Miss Porvenir, that’s right Miss Porvenir, like I said they really like their town here. Then came the samba drummers and dancers, who were dressed in very little. I still don’t know how that’s possible, I thought the day of the parade was cold but during the Carnival, it was so cold I thought I was going to get frost bitten. How those dancers managed to dance as if the cold was absent is beyond me. Then came all the students dressed in all sorts of costumes as if it was Halloween. Overall, it was awesome, despite the cold.

That same day, we celebrated my billet mom’s birthday, which included Spanish Karaoke and lots of wine and Piscokes. If you guys think that singing ‘Pinch Me’ by the Barenaked Ladies is tough, you’ve seen nothing yet. When trying to sing the Spanish karaoke songs, I felt like I was saying a tongue twister, I got tongue tied too many times to count. The content of the songs was also very much, well against men. The saving grace was being able to show my true Karaoke skills by singing ‘ Man I Feel Like a Woman’ by Shania Twain.

I want to finish on a positive note, so I’m bringing out all the negativity in this part of the post. So, while I am still trying to stay positive with regards my ability to teach, each day it becomes more difficult. This is the first week that I get to teach on my own and so far it’s been hit and miss. I’ve tried so many ways to make the learning more interesting and interactive for the students but without success. I must say before continuing, that while my CELTA training and the orientation in Santiago helped prepare me, it only provided me with a base. It seems that no matter what I try, I cannot get the students interested in what I’m teaching. It’s as if they are preconditioned to hate learning English. It could also be that I’m not a very good teacher, the jury is still out on that including myself. Obviously there are exceptions, I have some students who like my classes, but it might just be because they like me as a person. Some examples of teaching techniques include games, an interesting powerpoint presentation on Canadian culture (at least I thought it was interesting), the Great Big Moose Song as a way to learn about simple past and art projects including posters. Seriously, I’ve thrown everything at them except the kitchen sink. Two main problems I have are dealing with furniture students, the ones that don’t do anything to disrupt the class but don’t participate, so overall my class management is good, and the amount of Spanish I speak each class. I tried speaking zero Spanish but the students just freeze if I do that. However, now I’m speaking too much Spanish and I feel like I’ve opened up the flood gates to the point that, in my time here, I will learn more Spanish than they will learn English. Obviously my approach is not working, so while that is the case, I would say that my saving grace is the fact that I have another entire semester to get it right. It might just mean I will have to over-prepare my classes to the point where it makes it seem like I don’t think my students know anything.  I think that about covers it for my souring mood in relation to teaching.

To end on a positive note, I accidentally ran a five km race. Let me explain. Salvador, the youngest of the two kids, wanted to run the five km race. I decided that I was going to go watch the race. When we went to get him registered, the person told us that it would be better if all us raced since the alternative was waiting who knows how long for the one person to finish the race. So after getting registered, I basically decided I was going to do a sort of mind over matter and forget that I have asthma. This is a horrible application of mind or matter since it usually applies to a physical object and not something like the sensation that an elephant is sitting on your lungs. This ended up being a great good idea. For starters, it was my first physical activity in Porvenir, beyond walking everyday against the cold to get to school obviously. Secondly, I did so much better than  the first time I ran a 5 km race in which I had to stop multiple times during the race. This time, I didn’t stop once. Finally, as I was approaching the finish line, I decided that was going to go for broke and tried to beat all the runners that were immediately ahead of me. I started sprinting and with only a few meters to go, I started to feel that elephant pounding on my lungs. (Damn you asthma!) Ignoring the pain, I continued sprinting and raced past the remaining racers ahead me to the finish, I was sure I could hear Chariots of Fire in background, it was just one of those moments. It was such a good feeling just being able to show that I can run a five km race even with my asthma. Bring it on half marathon! As a bonus, I actually won a new tuque in a draw even though I never win anything.

Also, I’ve started taking dance lessons and I must say, that learning Kweka may be tougher than getting a black belt in karate. While karate is a mental and physical challenge., Kweka combines all of these things plus adding a finesse element, not only do you have to do it properly, you also have make it look good. I’m really hoping I’ll be ready come Chilean day of Independence in September. Despite the fact that it is tough, I really do like it so at least there is that. Tomorrow night, I’m going to be giving a swing dancing class, we’ll see how that goes.

Lets go from the worst thing that happened to the the rest. So I don’t know if it’s the school system in Chile’s approach to teaching English, but the students know next to nothing. Whether it be grade 5 or 12, apart from knowing more vocabulary, they are pretty much at the same level. This means that while my training during orientation week helped, it’s only a base.  Basically I’ve come to the conclusion that the students are approaching learning English as if it was a mechanical process instead of a natural process. Teacher says say ‘the dog is red’, ok, I say the dog is red, happy? Good, I won’t remember it next class. This is why it is very difficult to get them to produce anything. Most of their knowledge of English comes from comprehension. Yesterday, it was very simple what the 6th grade class was supposed to do yet it turned super complicated. They had to do a listening comprehension and after listening to the recording five times without them getting it, the head teacher eventually took control of the activity and basically spoon-fed them the answers. Yeah, that I’ll help them learn. Then, in the 7th grade class, they were supposed to do a simple research project on regions in Chile. Apparently, it was really complicated since only one group actually did the project properly. Also, even when they try to produce something in written form, they basically use google translate. In the grade 10 class we had a test and because the desks are so close together, students can easily give each other the answers. This really discouraged me. The worst was yet to come unfortunately. In the 12th grade class, I basically made them do a crossword puzzle I created that utilized words they had already seen or could find in the unit of the text book they were working on. My instructions were apparently too complicated since they just froze when I started saying three word sentences in English. I also made the structure of the clues very simple. It was either a field of study or the person who studies in the field. The clues were also repetitive with one clue sentence corresponding to fields and the other to the person. After all that teaching, the highlight of the day was the name tags of the students. Let the fun begin, time to learn all their names. Today, teaching was better, I had the 5th graders and we did a family tree workshop which, while it didn’t work on productive skills, was an activity they really seemed to like and also still forced them to know how to say the names of the different members of the family. My faith in humanity and my ability to teach these students English is restored, a little.

Today marked the first day of the celebration of the 118th anniversary of Porvenir. I went with the students to the church to attend mass. I don’t know why but bible songs sound so much better in Spanish. Also, as usual, the only word I know when to say during the sermon is ‘amen’. After that, there was the parade, with the Chilean soldiers marching, a demo of the Kweka, with the dancers in hwaso costumes, Chilean cowboys, the students of all the different schools marching as well as the firefighters, the oldest couple in Porvenir and I guess the equivalent of the RCMP but on a smaller scale. My next challenge is to find a costume for Carnival on Sunday with the theme being Madagascar. I’m thinking either a penguin or a zebra  Yes, the fun has only begun.

So, I attended my first teachers’ meeting, was welcomed with open arms and ate a lot of food. I’m also participating in a Secret Santa, I picked the principal. Tread carefully here, Jeff.

So today was my billet mom’s birthday and after eating till I thought I would explode at the teachers’ meeting, I ate more including various spreads like egg, guacamole, tuna, pickled tuna and chicken and lets not forget the birthday cake, which was probably the best one I’ve eaten in a long time. Take that store-bought over sweet icing cake. After that,the round of Piscokes started. Such a dangerous drink, it’s pisco and coke, and you barely taste the pisco. I had two and I was done. Apparently this is a taste of what’s to come as my billet mom wants to party till Sunday. Why me?

To finish off, I finally got my address:

Calle Chiloe 953, Porvenir, Region de Magallanes, Chile

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