Saturday, October 31, 2009

To the country, the city, the country and back again!

I'm going to backtrack to fill you in on my fun, 4-day weekend! We had off school on Monday for The Day of the Dead and off on Tuesday for Cuenca Independence day! Que fantastico!

We had a GREAT Halloween party at school on Thursday and I went to a bookclub with my housemate. On Friday at school I drank Colada Morada and the traditional bread dolls to celebrate the Day of the Dead in the traditional, indigenous manner.
On Saturday my housemate Donna, her friend Konna and I went to Otovalo. First we drove 3 hours, because of traffic, up the beautiful, winding mountain roads. I enjoyed talking with them and staring out the window at the incredible mountains and active volcanoes all around me.
We met up with Conna's friend, Margarita who embroiders more intricately than anything I've ever seen. We bought some things from her. Then we ate lunch at a 300 year old Hacienda! I'm running out of words to describe the beautiful things that I see here, but the hacienda was old, romantic, exotic and rustic! It had jungle-like gardens in the back yard with a peacock walking around and Ecuadorian men who serenaded us with music when we first walked in.
Margarita (who apparently doesn't like to smile for pictures) and I!

Then we went to the market in Otovalo which is where the indigenous people group in the area, the Cotovalianos, sell their goods and crafts. I bought some beautiful scarves and ran out of money quickly. It felt like I left the 20th century and entered the 1800's. The women still wear traditional dress, grow their own crops, live in small communities along the mountains. They literally dress, eat and function from day to day in the way typical of the 1800's in America. This isn't the first time I've mingled with South-American Native groups, but is still so mind-boggling to me.

On Sunday I went to Alliance Academy and met up with Julie and Melissa, and the Evans family to go to church. We went to EFC and then out to lunch to a restaurant called "Aladdin's", complete with copyrighted pictures of the Disney movie on their menu. After lunch, the Evans family took Julie, Melissa and I to the school's property in the country for the night. When we got there we explored the farms, fields and hills around us. What a view.

The next day we went to La Mitad del Mundo! The middle of the earth! We took touristy pictures with the Equator, ate a delicious Ecuadorian lunch, shopped and watched some Ecuadorian "day of the dead" dancing! On the way back we stopped at the Evans family's favorite fruit ice cream store... which turned out to actually be a SORBET store! It was sooo good. And cheap.
Today I taught math for the first time in this classroom. And it went well - Paul had 3 pages of positive and a little critical feedback to give me when I finished which is super helpful. He told me today that I am a natural, which is encouraging!.. to say the least!
I still love it here, but am realizing that I definetely miss my first-graders in Indy. And I really miss all of my friends and family. I think the Lord is slowly but surely showing me where my passion really lies and how he wants to use me to serve him. I'm not sure what my future looks like right now, but I absolutely feel peace about where I am and where the Lord is taking me. Thank you so much for your prayers, they are absolutely felt. The Lord is sustaining me, supplying my needs and teaching me more and mroe about him! I'm excited about the rest of the adventures in store for me here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Buenos Tardes mis amigos y familia! Today was my second day at La Academia Cotopaxi. The teacher that I am working with is PHENOMENAL. He loves the students, teaches the way that they need to learn and is hilarious. He makes both me and the students laugh throughout the day and has been incredibly accomodating and welcoming. I already have a large handful of resources and great, new lesson ideas. I know that I will leave this placement a much more prepared teacher. I'll start teaching next week!

The school is gorgeous. I will take pictures of it later this week or next. There is a large cage of chirping birds in the courtyard in the center of the campus and all the hallways are more like a large patio that extends in a circle connecting the classrooms. Our classroom is huge with large windows, wooden floors and a general warm feeling about it.

I am currently enthralled with my 16 intelligent, witty, sweet fourth grade students. It's incredible that I can reason with them and have adult-like conversations! All but like 3 or 4 are Ecuadorian or are originally from a Spanish-speaking country, which means that all but these 3 or 4 speak Spanish as their first language. We have one beautiful little girl from Spain who came this year without a word of English. She is learning quickly and part of my TESOL Practicum is working with her in both a push-in and pull-out setting.

All of these children come from families with some major money. Several of them are driven to and from school by a chauffeur and a few even have a body guard who escorts them into and out of the school. Their parents have jobs such as ambassadors to Ecuador, special agents, and several of their parents work in the petroleum business.

I am getting an interesting perspective on education in the world. This school has American, Canadian and a few Ecuadorian teachers. Each have come from a different background in education and have quite the variety of perspectives and understandings. They are all very friendly and helpful. Today after school I walked to a little organic food store down the street to buy a few things and made a delicious dinner.

I am looking forward to maybe getting to spend some time this weekend with Julie and maybe Barbie too at Alliance Academy. Everyone that I work and/or live with here is 35 or older and has lived in at least 2 other countries. I'm feeling the desire to spend time with some people my own age who have had similiar life experiences! Praise the Lord that Julie and Barbie are just 15 minutes away! OK And here are just a few pics of my home in Quito : )

This is on our apartment's rooftop patio: This is my room :): View from my window! You should see it at night... unbelievable. The whole mountain is covered in little lights

Ok now you have a little picture of what it is like here. I love you all. Hasta luego!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Todo es bueno

My browser now displays everything in espanol. Que Bueno! We have a very nice security guard here who carried in our groceries after foodshopping at the SuperMaxi. Yes the foodstore is called SuperMaxi. I bought a bag of quinoa for under $2 as well as cartons of black and blue berries for .55 a carton! Crazy cheap food, especially produce! When we got back, Donna made me try this odd Ecuadorian fruit that has a hard, orange shell and the insides look like fish eggs that you have to scoop out with a spoon to eat. IT was a nice exotic experience - but probably not one that I will repeat anytime soon. I also took pictures of this that I might feel like posting later in the week.

After foodshopping and a brief tour of the school and the city I ventured off to take a walk around town. Let me tell you, the weather was PERFECT. It was about 75 degrees, with a breeze and a hot, penetrating sun that tinted my skin pink due to the high altitude. I walked to a little tienda where I purchased a large box of Peach juice for sesenticinco (75) cents and then sat on the rooftop patio of our apartment overlooking the whole city and drank a bit of it. After a nap and some skyping encounters I heard loud, hillsong-esque worship music coming from a couple blocks away. I wandered up the street and found a large church with a lively worship band. I stood in the back as the only white person in the whole large room and worshipped with them a bit. I was thankful to find a church so close to home!

When I got back Donna had her two friends over for dinner and we ate a great, homey american meal complete with mashed potatoes and apple pie and talked about their lives living all around the world in Columbia, the Phillipines, China, Kuwait.

Don't worry after today I definetely won't have the time or energy to be writing such elaborate play-by-play blog updates. Tomorrow is my first day of school! I'm excited to meet my kiddos! The school is literally 2 blocks up the street, but it is up a very steep road. Pray that I don't pass out from exhaustion hiking up that hill, the altitude makes EVERYTHING more challenging. Ok good night, it is bedtime for me soon! Love and miss you all.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Successful ARRIVAL!

IM HERE! I arrived in Quito around 10:00pm. I spent the last few hours touring the apartment and drinking tea with my Canadian roomate talking about her life adventures. She has lived in at least 5 different countries and needless to say has a lot of great stories to share. I have my own room, my own bathroom and a view of the majority of the city from my window! There is also an incredible rooftop patio that overlooks Quito! I also clrealy have wireless, which makes it incredibly convenient to skype and blog.

My school is literally a 1 block walk from here and I'm going to see it tomorrow! I'm too tired to write much more than this. But I wanted to let everyone know that I'm here, my luggage is here and todo es bueno! Ok bedtime. Buenos noches!

love you all!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hi everyone! I will leave for Quito, Ecuador in just a few days! For those of you who don't know I'll be teaching fourth grade in Ecuador at Academia Cotopaxi in Quito, which is an American International School. Check out their sweet website:
Right now I'm kind of sad to leave my little first-graders in my IPS placement. Tomorrow is my last day with them:

I didn't know if it was legal for me to post a picture with their faces, so I put one with the students turned to the side. WOW I love this blogging site - posting pictures is EASY. I'm hoping to update this blog at least weekly - maybe more!

Thanks for being interested in my life! I could definetely use yours prayers in the next few days as I get prepared to leave! :)