Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To teach is to learn twice. ~Joseph Joubert, Pensées, 1842

I know it may sound kind of strange to some of you, but, until recently, I have never considered being a teacher. Well, yeah, when I was a kid, but not seriously. I originally decided to study Spanish and International Studies, with minors in French and German, to be able to market myself well to foreign relief services. I have always enjoyed helping people, so I figured this would be the best way to do it. This option is still not out of my mind. However, I have noticed a trend recently. Wherever I go, literally wherever, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Italy, God has given me opportunities to teach. It doesn't have to be in a classroom atmosphere. For example, in Mexico, I sprained my ankle the second to last day that we were in the village of La Morita, putting in the foundations for a church. I couldn't do much to help, so what I did do was have the local children teach me words in Spanish, and I would say what they were in English. We all had a great time. I think the kids were just thrilled that, this time, THEY were the teachers. Sometimes, I think that is the best way to teach. Have the children teach you, since they will, in turn, learn the subject matter better themselves. Plus, the teacher always ends up learning something too.

Here in Spain, I have 2 students. Henar is 12, and Teresa is 9. They both come from different families and have different interests. Henar loves music, plays the contra bass (kind of like a cello), and loves teaching me card games. Teresa, on the other hand, is a little shy, but loves sports, math, science, and loves to smile. I gave her some of those snapz bracelets that are all the craze now, and her face literally lit up. Especially once I told her they were from the States. Teresa's mom tells me that she just adores me. I seriously don't know why. I just go, do my job, and enjoy it.

Their respective families have been so welcoming to me as well. Teresa's family has invited me to eat with them once a week; one meal to speak in Spanish, and the next week's meal to speak in English. They have both invited me to do things with them for Christmas, and talk about sending me packages once I get back to the States. I joke that I have three families here: my host family, Henar's family, and Teresa's family. I am totally okay with that. I think it helps me learn more of the culture, of cooking, of the language, and of the dynamic of families in different cultures.

So I teach Henar twice a week (usually) and Teresa once a week. Then I also go to her family's house for supper one night a week. On top of all that, and my own classes, I go to an elementary school once a week. It is the school of my host mother's niece, Maria, who is 8. I speak a half an hour in one classroom, and then speak another half an hour in a another classroom. Well, I don't really speak, as the children as me questions. A few of my favorites include:

"What is your favorite sport?" (I'm not a sports person)

"What is your favorite food?" (So hard to decide...)

"Have you met Justin Bieber?" (No.)

"Have you met so-and-so from the Lakers?" (No. I have to explain that America is very big so it is difficult to meet everyone)

"What is your favorite Spanish soccer team?" (I have to explain that soccer isn't as big a deal in the States as it is here)

The most popular one? "Do you have a boyfriend?"

These are all from 4th and 5th graders. I walk out smiling after every class, just because I get so happy just being around the children and teaching them words. They love the fact I have a bearded dragon, that I have traveled, and that I love the LEGO video games.

Today, when I went, there was a miscommunication. The teachers thought that I was in Germany. So the kids didn't know I was coming.

I felt like a rock star. "DOKIA! HOLA DOKIA!!"

Made me feel really special. I needed that too, since I have had a problem with a professor here. But that is a whole other story. Maybe next blog post.

Anyway, two girls in one of the classes found out I actually do speak Spanish. (Previously, the teachers had told their students that I don't understand Spanish, so they have to speak English). I told them it is a secret though. Just between me and them. Their faces just lit up. A secret with the teacher! How special are we!

So I think God is showing me that maybe I am supposed to be a teacher. What do you think?

Snowflakes are kisses from heaven. ~Author Unknown


I looked at my host mother, Begona's face. The excitement present in her eyes was slightly bewildering, as I sat with my spoonful of yogurt half way to my open mouth.

"It snowed last night!!"

Obviously she didn't hear the night before. I was SO excited. I wanted to run to their rooms, and be like 'IT'S SNOWING!' But I decided that I might scare them if I did so. Instead I took pictures and shared my excitement via Messenger with my boyfriend. And all my facebook friends. :P

Funny thing is, they had a huge snowstorm back home in Fargo. Lots of snow, ice...classes canceled, which is always a big deal in Fargo.

I love snow; always have. Though I tend to get sick of it around the end of March. The way it seeps into your socks, no matter what kind of boots you wear. The challenge that you undertake every time you need to drive somewhere. How ugly it looks when it is melting, with the sand underneath making it look like white mud. However, I just love the beauty of it falling, and how quiet the world seems to get. It is as if the world stops, just to contemplate the wonder of whiteness that is falling from the sky.

I am going to Germany tomorrow, and am terribly excited. I am excited to spend time with Dan and Sarah again, enjoy Gluwein, but also...to romp in the snow a bit. Yes, romp; in the snow, I tend to be like a puppy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

4 Stories: Old Photos

Next 4 Stories installment from Freckled Nest!

I. Childhood Boredom

I have always been obsessed with taking pictures. When I was younger, and bored, I would take my mom's camera and take pictures of my room. I have pictures of my Garfield collection, of my bed, of my books, of my toys... Yeah. Kinda funny.

II. "A picture is worth a thousand words"

If you haven't realized it by now, I love taking pictures when I travel. I think it is the best way to show friends and family my experiences. I also LOVE taking travel pictures that have stories behind them. "After this picture, I tripped." "This is the Mexican doctor I had to visit when I sprained my ankle in Mexico." I think the best part of pictures are the stories that lie behind them.

III. National Geographic

I LOVE NG for the photography. On their website, they have a section called 'Your Shot'. I have always wanted to submit a picture and get it picked by others to be in the NG magazine. However, there are many talented people out there who have better cameras, so I may just have to wait. However, I just love looking at the way other people look at life.

IV. Scrapbooking

I think if you love photography, most often you are also a scrapbooker. They kinda go hand in hand. I love scrapbooking. However, I try to make the page compliment the pictures, or tell the story that is being told in the pictures. For this reason, it takes me a long time to scrapbook. I have a hard time just throwing pictures on a page and leaving it. The page has to reflect the pictures, the story, and the environment in which the picture was taken.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. ~Irish Proverb

 Before I left for Germany, I was stressed and tired. I missed home terribly, was frustrated with classes, and was just ready to hear something other than Spanish. I needed a vacation, a rest, a time to just relax and be myself. God gave me that opportunity when I went to visit my good friend Sarah and her husband in Germany. He is there in the AF for the US military, and they have lived there for about 2 years now. I was their first visitor. Poor people :P

I was supposed to arrive at about 10pm. However, with the delays with the French air strike that had happened the day before, the flight was delayed. I ended up flying in at about midnight. I almost missed the flight too! In Madrid, they don't announce when they are boarding or changes about a flight. They just let you find out after you have been waiting. So I had been sitting and reading another book by Carlos Ruis Zafon (one of my new favorite authors), when I had to go to the bathroom. I walked by and noticed that my flight was finishing boarding! I quickly grabbed what I needed and stood in line. I got to know some nice French people. This woman just wowed me. She teaches English in France, I think, but also spoke Spanish fluently too! I want to be like her when I grow up.

Poor Dan and Sarah. They had to drive an hour to get me, and then we had to drive an hour back to their place. We were all tired, but we laughed a lot. Once we got back, I got to take an American shower. That is to say, I was able to leave the nice warm water running. Here, in my host family's house, I have to turn the water off when I am soaping up or whatever. It was SO nice. Then I got to sleep in a nice American bed. It was weird sleeping without noise outside my window though :P

The next morning, we kinda took it easy. We talked about their upcoming trip to Spain, like where they wanted to go, what I said they HAD to eat (queso manchego, sangria, bread...), warned them about the different coffee, and places they had to visit in Barcelona. Then we decided, after Sarah and I had 2 cups of coffee (we were happy), all three of us went to Uli's Gut Stub: Restaurant and Car Wash. I was like, I speak German, I should be able to order. But the only thing that came out was Spanish, with a mixture of English. Poor waitress, probably thought I was on drugs or something. When I did speak German, it was mixed with Spanish, and probably had a Spanish accent. But the food was delicious! Then we went to the Wasgau Grocery store, to get Gluewein (wine you drink after heating it up = AWESOME), beer, and stuff for the next day. Then we went to Bernkastel Kues.

It is this cute little town on the Mosel River. Funny thing is, I have pictures of it from the River the last time I was in Germany! Isn't it funny how life goes in circles sometimes? The first thing we did was decide to hike up the hill to the castle, Burg Landshut. I actually have a picture of this castle framed in my home in the US! It was a nice hike; I said it was to burn off calories in preparation for spaghettieis. More about that later.

We finally reached the castle, and were rewarded with a spectacular view. Also, a nice view of the rainstorm that hit us. We took shelter in the castle. It was a beautiful sight, with the fall colors and everything. We had a good time, just waiting for the storm to pass.

Spaghetti Eis. God's Gift to Man
Once the nice fall rain passed, we went back down the hill. The grape leaves were so pretty with the rain. Everything just looked so fresh and new. We walked around for a bit, took pictures, found some good deals (like a peacock scarf for me!!!!) and ended up at a cafe. Last time I was in Germany, I had spaghettieis. It is ice cream that comes out of a machine to look like spaghetti, topped with fresh strawberry sauce (to look like tomato sauce) and white chocolate shavings on top to look like Parmesan cheese. It is one of my FAVORITE things ever. I love it. It is hard to describe. You have to experience it to know how utterly delicious this is.

The next day they took me to Mass on base. It was so strange being back in an English mass; actually understanding what was being said. And looking around and knowing that I belonged, knowing that I was 'one of them'. It was nice, refreshing, but strange. After breakfast, we went for a drive. 

I stopped keeping count of the twists and turns we took. I was just enjoying the beautiful fall scenery, with the trees and the hills. It was just gorgeous. We saw a sign for a castle, and decided to find it. We never saw another sign, but finally did end up at the castle. It was a beautiful day to hike up a steep hill. But the scenery was just worth it. The sky was a perfect blue, which brought out the beautiful fall colors. It was the perfect way to spend Halloween.

We enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and then decided to walk down. As at every German sight, there is a cafe at the bottom of the hill. Sarah and I enjoyed spaetzle together and our own coffees. Dan, who does not quite understand the joy spaetzle brings to our lives, had a peppermint tea. 

That night, we had steak. It was amazing. I haven't had a good meat and potatoes meal like that since I left the states. YUM!

Going to Germany was like going home. I knew the customs, knew the language, knew the food. I had a wonderful time with Dan and Sarah, laughing a lot. I felt so good as I left; completely rejuvenated.