I don’t even know where to start. How do you sum up a week in a new life in a new country in a new job with new friends and etc? I’m going to assume that over the course of ten months you’ll get an idea of what daily life is like here. I’m going to hit you with an overview of this past week and what school will be like. (If you have topics that you really want me to write about, questions that you have, etc, please leave them as comments here or on Facebook and I will address them in future posts!)
Last Sunday we had a whirlwind of an orientation. Breakfast together as a TEFL team, our first ride on a chicken bus to get into Jocotenango, church service, another chicken bus ride into Antigua, the purchasing of Guatemalan SIM cards and phone plans, lunch in a restaurant, a quick sight seeing, and a grocery trip in the famous (infamous) grocery store La Bodegona. La Bodegona is an experience and definitely deserves a post all to itself sometime. For now, just trust me when I tell you that it is An Experience.
Monday and Tuesday were days with some TEFL orientation for us new teachers. Let me introduce the new cast of characters – they may show up in varying frequency in upcoming posts. Eden and Tegan and I are the new ones, and Max and Matthew are returning TEFL teachers, and leading the charge is our fearless TEFL director Beth. Eden and Tegan and I live upstairs in what is affectionately called Casa Canche, or “house of blondes” (think foreigners or light haired people). Beth and her husband Fred (director of communications for Global Shore) and Baby Ali (cutest little chubby cheeked baby you can imagine) live on the main floor of Casa Canche. Most of the ex-pats working with GSO in Guatemala have historically been Canadian, but with the new opening of GSO USA in 2019, it’s now easier for Americans to raise support and work here. So both of my roommates Eden and Tegan are Americans. As I’m sure you know Canadians love to do, they got quite the lectures and lessons about Canadian culture as we started working together.
On Wednesday all teachers arrived. Most of the school staff is Guatemalan, and we had a LOT of people to meet and names to try to remember. We TEFL teachers also received our teaching assignments and curriculum and started lesson planning.
I’ll be teaching segundo and tercero básicos this year – essentially grade eight and grade nine. Básicos is middle school here, and it’s essentially grade 7, 8, and 9, and just like those can be challenging years for students in Canada, they can be challenging for students here. So even though classes are not too big, the students are divided into two sections. So I have four different classes that I’ll teach, two grade 8 classes and two grade 9 classes.
For the first time since my first year of teaching more than fifteen years ago, I have a whole new curriculum to learn and a whole new crop of student names to learn. I’m so used to teaching at least some of the same curriculum and usually know more than half of the students coming into my class. It’s so strange to have everything be new. Strange in a good way – I am up for the challenge! But you can pray for my transition into a totally new job and for my ability to quickly learn names of all my new students.
It’s been nice to have a weekend break. Yesterday, Eden and Tegan and I took the bus into Antigua ourselves – our first solo trip, successfully completed! – and enjoyed lunch in a restaurant, beautiful views of Antigua, and a quick stroll through a very empty artisan market (usually bustling with tourists). Today after church, Eden and I found a cafe and are enjoying some quality drinks while relaxing in the fresh air.
Next week will continue with similar work – staff devotions together each morning, then planning and meeting times. On Thursdays, teachers have to submit their lesson plans for the whole upcoming week, so I’ll be fine-tuning my lessons and starting to prep for the second week of classes.
And then classes themselves will hopefully begin on the 18th. I believe that we still need to find out if our Covid plan has been approved by the government, but the 18th is what we’re expecting right now.
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