Mountains and Men

Pretty much every morning these days, I wake up, go to the roof, and think, “Wow, I’m really here.” I like to go up to the roof because you can spin in circle and see only mountains. My town is gorgeous. And don’t even get me started on my extended family’s farms, which I swear are national geographic landscapes waiting to happen. I really should extend my vocabulary to include more words that mean beautiful because I think everyone will get tired of my constant, “Que lindo!”

I started working at my school last week, for real. The organization I’m working for is called Mountains of Hope, in English. I definitely respect everything they’re doing. For one, they run the whole high school, which consists mostly of young girls and women. The purpose of the school is to train them in practical skills they can later use to obtain jobs, which many women don’t have the opportunity for here. In addition, they train the families of the girls, who are farmers, sustainable agriculture techniques. They also hold workshops on things like nutrition, cooking, etc. I have the opportunity to do a variety of things with this organization. I’m going to be teaching English and Art for sure. (Art, by the way, is an exception here. They just don’t have art classes in schools, except for mine.) But I can also help with the community garden they have here, and the elderly cafeteria they run. The kids are super sweet and extremely curious. They’re amazed by my amarillo pelo, my yellow hair, which isn’t actually yellow but it’s probably the closest they’ve seen. They’re impressed by the length, too. Sometimes when I walk between their rows in class, the girls will mess with it.

I still get little of moments of culture shock occasionally. I appreciate so much of the culture here, like how everyone greets everyone when they go to a new place, and how food is just automatically communal, but there are some things that sit wrong with me cultural, mostly about being female. The clothes for one. Sometimes I forget myself and wear something that shows a bit too much skin and suddenly everywhere I go, there are whistles, heads turning, and men who think being able to say hello in English is really what I’m looking for in a mate. Of course, they’re all very nice otherwise but it just bothers me. A girl also can’t really hangout with a group of guys cultural unless she’s dating one of them, which is a problem for me because I have no sisters but a brother my age, who has only male friends. I realized that today when I was walking with my brother and his all-male friends and I looked across the street to make eye contact with two girls roughly my age, who proceeded to wiggle their eyebrows at me like they knew some little secret. And when the younger generation is wiggling their eyebrows at you, it means the older generation is shaking their heads at you. I need to work on making some female friends here.

By the way, my internet access is a little sporadic here. My family has one computer with internet, but it’s pretty old and slower than our two turtles. However, luckily for me, my organization’s office, which is about a 3 and a half minute walk away, has wifi! And I can even catch it from a park bench outside, so the office doesn’t have to be open for me to use it. It’s just a matter of me remembering to go there to intentionally use it. It’s funny how little internet you use when it’s not sitting right there in front of you.

If there’s something specific you’re wondering about my journey and my experiences thus far, comment or send me an email or something. I’m happy to answer questions or write a blog post on the subject. And any ideas might remind me to update more regularly.

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1 Comment

  1. andy

     /  October 17, 2012

    Thanks for the update. It is great to hear how you are acclimating, observing and becoming a part of your community. I find it exciting and very interesting to view a new world through your eyes. I would be curious to hear more about your art class. What do you have them doing? And how do you explain the value of what they are doing if all there other classes have more tangible and identifiable value?


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