Spring has hit Seville! And when I say spring, I mean summer, at least in my book. It has been at least 80 degrees everyday, and last Friday it hit 90, leaving me shocked at the amount of sweat my body can actually produce. Also, it turns out I am very allergic to orange blossoms and encourage everyone to buy stock in Kleenex because I have been greatly helping their cause.
Classes have been going well, though, I’ve come to realize how prevalent tradition is in Spain. I’ve known this for a while, but it’s amazing how much it comes out in the education system. Classes run the same way everyday no matter what, and teachers re-use materials that they’ve had for years without any modifications. This applies not only to the classes I’m taking, but the English ones I’ve taken over. Workbooks are God, and after taking education classes at CU that drill the idea of creative lessons filled with read-alouds and story writing within a “community of learners”, I have been very discouraged by the regularity of lecturing and fill-in-the-blank activities . As early as first grade students have their teachers shuffled around for each subject: that’s to say that instead of having a cozy homeroom feeling where Miss Honey (Roald Dahl reference for those of you on you’re “A” game) reads you a story from a rocking chair, you’re teacher changes every hour and you don’t move from your desk (which is in a row) besides recess. Fighting this system has not gotten me far—the students don’t know how to react when you tell them to get out of their seats, and the collaborating teachers always look up from the back of the room as if I’ve just lit the chalkboard on fire. Also, I’m realizing how much language effects behavior== encouraging words and politeness are not key to Spanish. Saying “gracias” after every meal, offer, or compliment is very foreign and considered “over-polite”. This means that when you get an answer wrong in class there is never a “Well, I see where you’re coming from, but…” or “Interesting way to look at it, however…”—No. More often the teacher interrupts with “No! Pay attention” and then calls on someone else. My eyes have popped out of my head as if I were hit with a chalkboard on more than one occasion. Needless to say, I’ve come to value the education I’ve received and the one I hope to give others one day.
On a lighter note, the past weekend (April 8th… sorry I’ve been slacking!) was a blast!! On Thursday after class, sick of caring what Spaniards think of us and ready to let loose a little, Greg, Eve, Amanda, and I were on a mission to pretend we were back in the states. How you ask? Well, we found cups, ping-pong balls (I’m pretty sure it was the only existing pack in Spain), a plank of wood, and well, beer. Classy or not, we set the plank of wood up in a plaza near our house outside of a playground (we’re drawn to children?) and played beer pong. Like mashed potatoes loaded with butter, it might not have been the best idea, but it was a true home comfort. We also got a lot of exercise in chasing after loose balls… all of us were a bit out of practice.
On Friday, the school we teach at hosted a “Día de Deportes,” pretty much a very competitive field day. We had no idea how important this day was for the school until we saw all of the children cheering and crying when the “winning team” was determined. It was fun to spend time with our students outside the classroom and see how school pride translates here. Also, some of the events would never fly in the USA, like having students run at a central mat from six different directions (needless to say some collisions occurred) to eventually go through a hoola-hoop. After the events, we went out to dinner with one of the teachers we observe and practiced some Spanish. Sarah, Eve, and I were really on a Spanish kick and decided to watch The Notebook in Spanish—it was cool to see how they translated things since we knew pretty much every scene and line. Turns out it’s a great chick flick no matter the language.
|The "best student in the school" carrying the school flag before the games began.|
|Everyone watching the sporting events|
That night, we drank wine and caught up in the hostel… old habits die hard I guess.
|Gabby and I hanging out with Christopher Columbus|
The next day was Greg’s birthday and the weather was great, so we all got on a bus and went to the beach. We took a picnic consisting of bread, Pringles, peanuts, oranges, bananas, and wine. The combination of the sun, salt, wine, ice cream bars (following the wine and sun) and good friends left a smile glued to my face as we raced into the water, froze at how cold it was, got in any way, and then ran out to lay in the sand some more. The mere 17 euros I spent on the day proved money isn’t always key to happiness.