It’s been a little while since I last posted but a tremendous amount of activity has happened since.
Numero Uno: I have an apartment, am all moved in and getting to know my great room mates through some really great meals cooked and eaten together. We literally have a suprmarket right down stairs so it’s easy to buy supplies for each meal as they come. Last night we made hearty homemade mac and cheese with a spanish salad topped with lentils, garbanzos, mushrooms, corn and red peppers. The wine is super cheap so we bought a couple bottles for the meal and used it in the cooking and then drank it, of course. Our apartment is the museum because it is filled with our landlord’s old furniture and knick knacks (that I already stored away). There is no microwave, clothes dryer or toaster but we are making do. Everyone dries their clothes on the line here and they dry in a day because of the mildly warm lovely weather.
Numero Dos: I began work at my school! Yesterday I took the bus to the school Miquel Porcel and got a bit lost but after I asked an older Spanish woman for directions, she walked me all the way there. The kids range in age from three to twelve and they decorated a huge sign in the entrance of the school that read “Welcome Jessica.” It was a very sweet gesture and really helped me start feeling more at home. The teachers were extremely excited to see me and I struggled through their spanish and catalan barely understanding anything before the English teacher switched over to English. I help with a remedial math class for 5th grade, an english class for 6th grade and an “infantil” class with three-year-olds. The math class has only ten students and I ended up working with one girl named Angie who moved here from Ecuador a couple weeks ago. We were learning basic addition but it seemed like she didn’t have a grasp so I helped her count on her fingers while naming the numbers in English and then I showed her how to write out numbers and count from one to another. It felt good to work with someone one on one because it really seemed to help her. The 6th grade english class was very rowdy in a noisy classroom above the playground. I thought the kids would understand more english than they did but I slowed down my speech and clarified my questions and answers to them. I am glad I’ll be here for the school year because I think I’ll see a lot of growth and be able to get close to the kids I’m working with. The three-year-olds were a whole other story. They spoke zero English and were intimidated/distracted by hearing English. With the older kids I was told to not speak any spanish so they are forced to speak english with me, but that was impossible with the little ones. They asked me my name in spanish and I obviously answered. Because of their age they were cranky/happy/distractable/silly. But, it was an interesting change up to my day and overall I enjoyed the experience as a whole. Most of the teachers and kids have learned a form of British english so my accent and some of my words are very different from what they’ve learned before but I think they are excited to get to know me and work with me.
I finally got a hold of my other school, Joan Miro, that I still hadn’t heard from and went to visit today. Both of my schools are in poorer neighborhoods but the kids are still kids and they make me laugh. After walking across town to meet someone from Joan Miro, I was briefly introduced to the female English teacher from France named Laurence. She didn’t have time to say much although she did warn me that the school kids often have lice and “there are a lot of gypsies here.” I had already been warned from teachers at Miquel Porcel but it still took me aback to hear it. I think if I’m careful I can avoid the lice and I’m not really sure if the issues with gypsies is about stereotypes or what. But I am totally thrilled that I am spending a large part of my day teaching art there!
So my perceptions of living on a tourist island are a bit different than the reality because I will mostly be working in immigrant neighborhoods. But I am glad with this opportunity because I will be here for so long and will be able to know these kids. I don’t want to jump the gun but so far I am enjoying the experience of teaching and looking forward to the crazy awesomeness to come.
Here’s my schedule for those of you who are curious:
Monday/Wednesday: Miquel Porcel, 10am Math 5th grade, 11-11:30 break with the other teachers, 11:30-12:30 English 6th grade, 12:30 to 1:15 infantil control (kind of a joke)
Tuesday: Joan Miro, 9:30am-11:30 Art 4th grade, 11:30 to 12 break, 12-1 English with 6th grade
Thursday: Joan Miro, 9am infantil control, 9:30-11:30 Art 4th grade, 12:30 to 1 English