Saturday, January 24, 2015

Time Passes

All of a sudden it’s been nearly a month since I’ve written anything.  Perhaps it’s unnecessary for me to say that January has flown by in a rather uneventful sort of way. 

On the 2nd, I spent the day in airports and flying.  Leaving from my hometown’s small airport, I am always ensured at least 3 flights and 12 hours of travel time to get to or from Guatemala City.  While I don’t particularly enjoy these long travel days, I have found that the three flights provide a sort of natural transition from one life to the other.  Take this most recent trip, for example.  My first flight was on a small plane filled with mostly small-town people leaving home.  We were nearly homogenous group.  The next flight was filled with more variation; we traveled from one big US city to another.  By the time I boarded my final flight, I was already feeling farther from home.  But then on that plane, filled not only with vacationers and business men bound for Central American, but also with Guatemalans going home, when the pre-flight instructions were read both in English and in Spanish, and the customs forms were passed out, returning to Guatemala became real. 

Moon over the wing.  Last flight of the day. 

Still, it took a full two days for me to get back into the swing of life here and to appreciate once again all of the things (small and large) that keep me so happy.  Once I’d had a chance to see my closest friends again and spend some time in the sunshine, though, I was able to stop dwelling on the people I had left in Wisconsin and live in the moment once again.  

And oh, I am happy here. 

Calendar with great pictures of my friends for each month.
Amazing gift to welcome me back!!!  

I remember shivering my way through last January.  I had mentally prepared to endure the same this year, but I really haven’t been as cold.  When I get up on Tuesday mornings before the sun and go to the school pool to meet my friends and swim, while they fret about how cold they are, I don’t usually feel cold until I put my toes in the water (which is generally warmer than the air).  On only one day did I don my new penguin mittens during the school day to warm my hands.  This week, I even opened the windows to let the breeze in more than once. 

While being relatively low-key, the past three weeks have brought some high points.  The middle school staff celebrated the new year at a restaurant overlooking the city.  Good food, great conversation, and full glasses made the evening worthwhile.  The next night, I celebrated Ukrainian Christmas at my neighbor Jestina’s house.  It’s a family tradition of hers, and she shared it with us this year.  The food was delicious and the company was fantastic.  We laughed almost to the point of tears as we chatted and told stories after dinner.  I also spent a day in Antigua with Amy and Shannon, taking my first Spanish language course in years.  While the class was perhaps not exactly what I need in order to advance, it was fun to put myself in the learner’s seat again, and it was a great chance to practice my Spanish and refresh some grammar rules.  And after the class, the three of us enjoyed the colonial city, had a delicious lunch, and were able to catch up.

Looking out over the city at the MS Staff Social

Volcano sunset from the restaurant

At school, I am teaching a research unit.  It’s both one of my favorite and least favorite things to teach.  (I love teaching the process, but it frustrates me when middle school students don’t grasp the concept of paraphrasing and end up plagiarizing.  And it’s also a lot of grading.)  I’ve been getting a lot of satisfaction out of the project this year.  My students work hard, and for the past few class periods, even when I thought the lesson was boring and maybe they would choose not to focus or use their work time, the classroom has been silent aside from the music playing softly from my speakers, heads raised only to ask me a pertinent question.  But the best part?  For whatever reason, some of my students who typically struggle a bit in English reading/writing skills have been doing really well with this project.  I love the look on their faces as they realize that they’re doing it correctly.  When they get an assignment back and realize they earned the same or a higher score than their “smart” best friend, that feeling is priceless.  It makes me really really happy to see them succeeding. 

Great summarizing.  Giving an appropriate
topic?  Might still have some work to do. 

Currently, I’m in the middle of my penultimate masters course through Framingham University.  While the content is worthwhile, I am ready to be done with long nights and lectures.  I’m getting through it, but I’m glad there is only one more course after this one. 

Tomorrow I will run the Max Tott half marathon in Guatemala City.  I’m sure a blog post will follow.  It’s the first race in Guatemala that I am running on my own, without friends to pump me up at the starting line.  (We didn’t originally plan for me to run it alone, but due to illnesses, both Carrie and Amy are sidelined at the moment).  Until moving here, running solo was standard for me.  Now it feels foreign.  However, I’ll have supporters waiting for me at the finish line, and I’ve been getting ready for this race for months.  I followed a training plan religiously (even in Wisconsin, even on Christmas Day) with the intent to break 2 hours for the 13.1 miles.  However, it’s my first time running this route, I’m not exactly sure how difficult it will be, and I… well, I have no idea how it will all turn out.  I’ll keep you posted.  

View from a wintery training run in Wisco.
It's all worth it! 

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