Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Unit on Cape Town

One of my classes have started a unit on Cape Town. As the teacher showed me the reading and exercises- about the weather and landscapes and Nelson Mandela, I told her I would love to make a presentation for the students. Because I spent time in Cape Town earlier this year, I have tons of pictures and a whole lot to say. This week, I spent some time at the end of class introducing the students to Cape Town, telling them a bit about apartheid, and the how the country of South Africa is today. I wanted to show them the striking contrasts of this beautiful, tragic place which holds a special place in my heart. And with the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, I assumed I would have the attention and respect of most of the 30, 15 year olds sitting before me.

The students (those who were looking) stared at me with dead eyes. I asked if they could understand me (because I was certain they must not have understood a word), they said yes. I asked if they were interested in what I had to say, they remained silent. Their cold stares and indifferent demeanor both infuriated me and made me sad. How can I encourage someone to care? Not even care, no, but be interested? How can I get one person to ask one, single question?

This teaching job, while it definitely has its perks, feels these days as if it is breaking me. Those 5 minutes of me explaining to the students of my internship and time spent in Cape Town was the most alive I've felt in the school since I've started this job. I felt that passion again inside me that I had when I was studying international social work. That feeling of helping, of improving myself and my environment. At the institutes in Valdemoro I have not had any of that- sure you'd think that teaching would have some job satisfaction- hell, I told myself for sure that this vear off-course in my career path would lead to its own unique set of rewards and gratifications- but it's been anything but rewarding. I'm so used to working or talking with people who already care, those who have interest and want to be a part of change or improvement in this world. But I've never had to convice someone to be interested (at least not on my own). Sure, teaching the past continuous tense and translating job interviews isn't going to yield to ah-hahs! and wows! But you'd think an honest talk about real issues in this world would at least awaken the slightest spark of interest in some of the many eyes on me. 

Ok, ok, I know what you want to say- 'Erin, you're teaching a bunch of high schoolers, they don't care about anything right now. You're lucky they showed up to class.' This is what I try to remind myself, and most days I take the job with a grain of salt, letting smart remarks roll off my back and not to let my temper boil when I am ignored. But lately I've just been thinking- I just don't want to spend another ounce of energy and time doing this. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Breathing that country air.

It has been a great time living in the city. All around me there is movement, excitement, things to do, places to see, yummy food to try and people to surround myself with. However, within a short time of immersing myself in this new life, I began longing for the country I know and love. The pollution and second hand smoke are a constant bother on my throat. There is never a moment of quiet or stillness. So finally Nacho and I took a trip about 40 minutes northwest of Madrid to the mountains, La Sierra de Guadarrama. The route we planned was a 4 hour hike, but we got lost and climbed for over 6 hours. It was a long, cold day but it was worth it.

Our hike bordered the Community of Madrid and the community of Castilla y Leon 
Camino Schmid was our trail

Here is where I spun in circles singing, "The Hills are Aliveee"

A good spot to stop and have a snack!

Stumbled upon some bulls

About halfway up

Very informative sign- "Danger, in general"
When we finally crawled back to our car after hours of hiking we were exhausted. It was windy and cold, but it was a good day, and coming home to hot soup made it that much better!