Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Catching Up: Part I

It's been forever since my last post. So I'm catching up with it all, starting with finishing my volunteer work in Mexico. 

Day 128: My last moments in Mexico

Can you believe that I spent over a hundred days outside of the United States? Oh wait... Missionaries do it all the time. Guess I've got more ground to cover. However, I am grateful for the time I spent with the other volunteers, kids, and my host family. I can definitely say that I would do it again. 

A while back ago I asked people for their questions about my experience. These are some of the questions I got. 

How hard was it to be away from your family in a country where you didn't speak the language when you arrived?
- Honestly, the first 10 days were a blast because it was my vacation! I didn't really think about it too much at first. When I got into Tehuacan though, it was a little rough to get used to not having someone in my host family be able to speak very good English. In the weeks that followed, I noticed that what I missed most was talking with my Mom. Just sitting in the kitchen and having a conversation. I'll be glad when I get home to have conversations in English again. Talking with the friends here was nice too, but you really can't beat those conversations you have in person with someone you know really, really well. Despite this, I still loved my time in Mexico. I was even able to learn spanish to the point where I could have conversations with my host mom. Kinda. 

What was the most creative teaching tool you employed to get your message across to your class?
- The objective when I teach is to get the children to speak. All the time. At the
elementary level, it's a little more advanced and they're speaking complete sentences. So you think of all the creative ways to get them to speak, and learn how to fix "translation errors" in their speech. Most creative teaching tool? Utilizing the kid's own imaginations. The kids loved making movies, stories, and we even made a video game set out of cardboard. That one was my favorite actually. They would make the screen (no shoot-em-up games), we'd "plug in" our controllers, and we'd have to say what was going on in the game. I don't think I've ever gotten so much speech out of them that spontaneously.

What was the funniest thing that happened while you were teaching?
- Lots of funny things happen. I have a whole list of funny things that my kids said or did.
There is one incident that I still laugh about, though. It was actually quite horrifying at the time, but now everyone laughs about it.
One day, I'm in the middle of teaching and from the other room I start to hear screaming. Miss Cassie comes out and says, "Where's Kaylie? Or Carol?"
She goes to find one of them and I look into her room to see her kids all staring and pointing at a ceiling corner. There, in the corner, was this big, ugly, moth. About the size of your hands put together, they look like goth butterflies on steroids. They told us in training that there was going to be some scary bugs in Mexico but the people wouldn't be afraid of them, so we shouldn't be either. That, my friends, is a total myth that I'll bust for you right now. Those kids were as scared of this black monster as I was. It was causing enough of a distraction that Cassie went to go and find someone or something to get the thing out of there. She comes back, armed with a broom, and begins to try to sweep it out towards my door. That's when the chaos began.
This butterfly didn't actually do as we thought it would. As soon as it was disturbed from it's perch, it quickly darted around the room, making all the children scream in surprise and run into my room before it could get them. Poor little Ricky hid under the table in Cassie's room, while the butterfly made into my room, up in one of my corners.
Someone else had the broom in their hand at this point... It may have been Erik (one of my kids). They tried to move it again, and this time it got some victims. Ricky tried to get into my room at that time and ended up with a butterfly in his face. After it had attacked Ricky, it moved onto my hair as I was in the doorway too. We both screamed and it made a final landing next to one of the lights in my room. No more mister nice guys. The broom went up and destroyed the butterfly. The gross part was that it turned into a kind of dust that you could see in the air. EW! Close your mouths kids! It took a few minutes to recover from the ordeal, but now that I think about it, we've never seen another butterfly in that part of the school again. You can see the remains of it in the picture to the right. 

What do you miss most about Mexico?
The places I was able to see were amazing. However, nothing can really compare to the people I was able to befriend there. 

It's the people that make the biggest difference in your life. My fellow teachers, the kids I had the privilege of teaching, and my host family and their friends are the ones that I will miss the most because they had the most  impact on my life.  

My last day in Mexico was a tough one. The night before was a little heartbreaking as I spent that night with my sisters, eating pizza and watching spanish soaps. Leslie didn't want me to go but I tried to let her know that it would be ok and that I wasn't really that far away from her. She and her family would always be in my heart and they hadn't seen the last of me. She told me to come back for her quinceanera. I am planning on it. My host parents dropped me off at the bus station that morning and they gave me a letter. I hugged them both and got on the bus, taking everything in. I was leaving what had been my home for four months. All the adventures and fun times were swirling around in my mind.
Being sick from the night before and the feeling of it all being a dream, this picture is a pretty good summary of how I felt that day. 
We all eventually went our separate ways, but not before sharing the last of Janessa's almonds. Weird, I know but it was our first treat together and our last. We're sentimental like that. Love those girls to pieces.

I got home safe. I celebrated my return to the states with my family and another family via telephone. The first person I called when I got to America? My mom. Of course! The second one actually called me. It was the Maxwells! I was so excited to talk to all of them, especially one in particular. ;) A few days earlier, he had gotten home from a two year mission in Sweden. This phone call would be the first one we shared privately in two years. But more on him later... This post is supposed to be about Mexico! 

That's it folks! That was my adventure in Mexico! If you're dying to see more pictures of the kids or of Mexico, there's a million more on my facebook page. Those kids are so darn cute and the places we went were so darn cool, I completely understand if you want to stalk me a little. No worries. 

So now that I'm all caught up with Mexico, what happens next? You'll find out in Part II. Until then, don't forget to LOVE LIKE CRAZY!