….And the English Opens Doors Program begins!

April 12th…First week of being in Chile is coming to an end… 
Long week of Orientation, but it felt good to be learning…listening…and absorbing information for the upcoming months. Ate at a random side street place for lunch…we have food vouchers. 🙂
Went for a run with a new friend from NYC and we stumbled upon this park; decided to wander through it and came across beautiful gardens and a stunning view of the city with the mountains in the backdrop.
Came back to the hostel and then headed out to find a cafe with chocolate and coffee with the sweetest bunk mates ever! Two of the girls from England and one from L.A. We had so much fun at this side street cafe around the corner from our hostel. (Hostelling International).

Photos below are of new friends, our little cafe, and views of Santiago…

Wow…the week flew by! And now it’s Saturday morning… Throughout the week the sessions discussed lesson planning, classroom management, culture, and living with a host family.

I feel like I should just start writing this over…

On Sunday April 14th around 1 pm I was welcomed at the bus stop in Rancagua by what is fast becoming my Chilean family and the warmest friendliest people I have possibly have ever met. I was instantly comfortable and…happy! Filled to the top with joy! I could not have been placed in a better situation. From the bus stop I was “whisked away” into a car and we headed to this backwoods place that no one had been to before, but we found it. A beautiful area to BBQ and hang out. Both Spanish and English were spoken. So many photos and smiles, and meat!!! What a great welcoming party!


we love pictures!

my new Chilean Family!

yay meat!

After the sun had set we drove to Machali- about 20 minutes or so, to my host mother and brother’s house. Ahh! She is the sweetest Chilean mother. I love her. Her son is super cool. I just invaded another teenage boy’s space. Take two…lessons learned…basically just stay out of their way and like their music…and definitely make yourself scarce if the friends are present. haha. We had my first “onces”. Bread or cake, coffee or tea, maybe some fruit or vegetables. It’s delightful.

Monday morning brought the Regional meeting with other volunteers from the area…not my specific town, but the area of Rancagua, San Vicente, and Machali. It was nice to meet with the Representative and be informed of detailed criteria etc. After the meeting Francisco, my head teacher, took me to a fruit stand. A bunch of fruit for $3. Score.

Francisco is my head teacher. He is about my age, has studied abroad in Iowa, and has visited the Omaha Zoo before. I am really looking forward to working with him as he truly cares about the kids and teaching, is laid back, and a lot of fun. During the week of observation I am going around to other classrooms to meet the different grades before solidifying my schedule.

(Tuesday) Observation Day 1: I assisted Catalina, another fluent English speaker. She teaches 2nd and 3rd graders. Wow! So much energy! One student brought me cake. She is a great teacher and really sweet! Even though I won’t be working directly with her, she is becoming a fast friend. I also found out that on Tuesdays the students leave early so the teachers can have meetings and plan time.

(Wednesday) Observation Day 2: Today I assisted Francisco in the morning. He let me help teach. Yay! His students speak English quite well and I was showered with so many pictures and notes! Adorable. And of course I’m saving them all! 🙂 During one of the classes we were interrupted for a last minute assembly. Little did I know that the assembly was to welcome me and I was brought up in front of the entire school to say Hello and Good Morning. The school has about 1000 students! Ah! In the afternoon I went into one of Camila’s classes. She has a tough class. About 35 students. I played a game with them and helped them with a writing activity. She is so kind and outgoing…I am glad I get to be in class with her and Catalina for a bit of time.

Recent life happenings: Found a nice running path near my house…it runs along the main road toward the mountains. I have a view of the mountains out my window! Driving to school with Marta (my host mom), I get to watch the sunrise over the mountains. Beautiful. We eat breakfast everyday together and the first words out of my mouth are Spanish, followed by Besos. It’s probably one of my favorite things about Chilean culture. Then we go to school. In the evenings I usually run before she gets home from work; when she gets home we hang out for a bit or watch the news. After we have “onces.” On Tuesday she cut up tomatoes and garlic, sprinkled with oregano and olive oil for our bread.

(Thursday) Observation Day 3: Quote of the day!
Observation Day 3: “Teacher, where have you taught?” “Korea” “ohhh teacher! Gangnam style?” Student proceeds with dancing motion… gotta love it!

(Friday) Observation Day 4: Another quote…

“Class, what’s YOUR favorite music.” Student- “Missss, I loveee Justin Beiber, he is sexxxy…what do you think is sexy?” (I about died.) How exactly do you explain your idea of sexy is quite the opposite of JB? 

Had some amazing support today from friends…figured out my schedule for teaching and English Opens Doors Program Initiatives. I will be teaching/co-teaching 5th and 6th graders, then holding English Workshops and activities for High Schoolers.
Something new…We left for the dance club at midnight and arrived home at 5:30 a.m.!!! Oh how I love dancing salsa! Still slightly overwhelmed at the going out experience…it will be fun every so often! And yes! I can dance without drinking! 🙂
As I post this blog it is Sunday April 21st…yesterday we had a BBQ…the weather is just perfect and the company was fun! One thing I am learning is that Chileans love to have all day get-togethers…it’s quite different from what I am used to, but I will adapt and figure out a routine.
Today it is absolutely gorgeous outside. Slept late. Walked to the store to buy cleaning supplies. Found a cafe with imported coffee (yay!). Cleaned the kitchen and living room and the upstairs bathroom. Love the smell of clorox and oranges! My host mom was away for the weekend in Santiago so I thought I would surprise her with a clean house. Went for a 45 minute run and now am just relaxing. 
What a wonderful way to end my first week in my new home for the next 4 months!
Photos: Mountain views on my running route, cheap fruit, and my new home…

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