Alfredo

Alfredo

This is Alfredo. He is a vendor selling belts in the park. On Saturday when I took photos there, he seemed to be trying to get my attention. I went over and asked if I could take his photo. He agreed and liked what he saw on the screen on the back of my camera. Later he came over and chatted with me. He speaks no English and I don’t understand everything he says but he likes talking with me. And I like talking with him. He does not try to sell me. And he told me he is there daily.

Sunday, I had this image printed and found him in the park to give it to him. He seemed pleased and proud to showed it to his two friends, also vendors. Now, I have three friends. The park is near the school and I can stop buy on my break to chat a bit. It is not deep conversation. They are curious about life in the US. I have enough language skills to ask about their families and such.

Welcome to Santa Tecla

I am alive and well and living here in Santa Tecla, El Salvador. I spent the weekend getting to know the city. There are traditional markets with individual stalls in which you can buy one type of item (clothes, fresh vegetables, fruits, etc) and a supermarket that rivals anything we have in the US. Walk down any street and you’ll find a pupuseria, making the national dish, pupusas; or perhaps a panaderia selling fresh baked goods. Often these are set up in the front of people’s homes. I’ve learnt how to get from the house where I am staying to the school in which I’ll teach and to the local markets. I’ve eaten way too many times in my neighborhood and need to branch out a little bit.

Today, I thought that I would show you a bit of one of the central plazas called Parque Daniel Hernandez. It is hot in Santa , and I decided to hang out here on Saturday afternoon to take advantage of the shade and cool breeze. A few hundred locals also showed up. Among the crowd were people selling food and clothing. An ice cream cone is $.35, but there is only Neapolitan flavor. You can buy belts, boxer shorts, shirts and socks.
Hanging out, I got to meet some of the locals. I’ll introduce you to one tomorrow.

FYI – My internet access is very spotty. If you comment and you don’t hear back from me right away, my apologies.

Cheers

Travel Time

Table

The photo above shows some of the teaching materials I’ve pulled together for my classes. They are spread out on our kitchen table in New Hampshire. It’s time to pull it all together and pack up and head off. It may take me a day or two to get things figured out on the ground there. I’m not sure what my internet access will be. I’m not sure how often I’ll post. I’m hoping a couple of times a week but I’ll have a better idea after I arrive. I apologize in advance if I am not as able to stay up on everyone’s blogs during this time. I hope you will understand.

Cheers!

El Salvador

El Salvador

This week, I’ve been writing about my decision to return to school to become a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and how that has led me to spend the next eight weeks teaching in El Salvador.

The decision to teach abroad came about because I wanted to spend some time volunteer teaching in a place where English was not the native language. Until the past few months, I vastly underestimated how challenging it is to really learn a language. Now, I’ll be able to see what it’s like to live in a place with only a passing knowledge of the language. It seems important to have an understanding of this before embarking on my new career. I chose to teach in Latin America because many people in the US who are learning English as a second language are from there. Living there would help me to better understand the culture. It would also give me a chance to improve my skills in speaking Spanish as well as in teaching English. After searching around a bit, I found a teaching placement in El Salvador.

Many people have questioned why I chose El Salvador, which is neither a popular destination nor known for being the safest place. The placement agency that I chose is called Travel to Teach. They would provide me with an opportunity to teach (as opposed to other service work), have a very sustainable program, and espoused values on their website that were consistent with my own. They offered positions in four Latin American countries. I chose El Salvador for a few reasons. One was a chance to try to experience the community. I would live and work in a small city in which I could walk between home and my placement. The idea of trying to fit into a community and live with a local family was greatly appealing. Reading about El Salvador, I was struck by the number of people who said how friendly and helpful the local people are. Also, while there are safety concerns, people from the U.S. are not intentionally targeted and the risks in many other countries seemed roughly similar. Tomorrow, the adventure begins.

There Is No “Schwa” in Spanish

Ariela y Yo

This week, I’ve been writing about my decision to return to school to become a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and how that has led me to spend the next eight weeks teaching in El Salvador.

Sr. Diaz was great and helped me to learn so much, but I wanted to supplement class with a coach who could help me reach a level of being conversational in Spanish. Through a website called italki.com, I met La Seniorita Ariela. She is a student in the Dominican Republic, who teaches both English and Spanish when she is not in class or doing her homework. We scheduled lessons twice a week for an hour each to develop my listening and speaking abilities.

It was scary at first to put myself out there 1:1 with a tutor, but it was so worth it and quickly became comfortable. She and I would find topics to explore: clothing, physical descriptions, small talk, health, directions, food and others. We would work on basic vocabulary and how to speak about a topic. With a private teacher, we could customize the lessons. When we covered directions, we printed off a map of the area where I will live and work in El Salvador and use this as a template for giving directions. This also gave me a working knowledge of the layout of the city.

My favorite part of our classes was when she would ask what I have been doing. It was a chance to converse. If I wanted to tell her a story or about something we did, though, I had to figure out how to do it in Spanish. At first, I’d have a page of notes and then at some point, I said “There will be no notes in El Salvador, so no notes here”. I might look up a few words I needed to communicate, but would learn them before we met. It really made me stretch my skills. And over time, I could understand better what she told me about her life or when she asked me questions.

This is the two of us during one of our sessions. I am very grateful to have met her and worked with her for the past few months. I’ll miss our lessons and hope that we can keep in touch.

FYI: The title of the post comes from an often repeated phrase in our lessons.

A Floral Pilgrim Monument

Pilgrim Monument with Flower

I spotted this blossom last week in Provincetown, MA. It was in a perfect spot to capture Pilgrim Monument in the back ground. The monument is shown more clearly below. You may ask why Provincetown has such a large monument to the Pilgrims, who are usually associated with Plymouth. If you check the history, you’ll find they landed here first and the moved to Plymouth.

Pilgrim Monument