Saturday, February 21, 2009

Turning Points

February has been a good month for us. It seems that we are all making some positive transitions in our experiences here. It is our sixth month out of the eleven we will spend here in Ensenada, and right after our half-way mark we are really noticing some changes.

This week was exam week for us and I noticed that Theo can study for his exams independently and without panic . . . and I'll bet he aced them. He loves to read his world history book. He occasionally has to consult a dictionary, but for most of his study time he just studies like a native Spanish speaker. It's amazing to watch. He also started going to a gymnastics class in January. All of his new buddies in class have introduced him around the gym as their new friend "who speaks Spanish and English." No one speaks to Theo in English at the gym or calls him a gringo. They just refer to him as the new bilingual kid. Now that's progress.

Nathan woke up early this morning. Instead of turning on the computer and rushing to find out some news from home, he sat on the couch and read a book. This is not new for Nathan -- he reads to relax. What's new is that he just sat and read The Witches by Roald Dahl in Spanish ("Las brujas" en espaƱol). In typical Nathan fashion, he just "inhaled" the whole book in one sitting. That's another sign of progress.

Then, we got a phone call mid-morning from the principal of the middle school, who also happens to be our neighbor. Her husband invited Nathan and Theo to go to the beach with him and his kids (their son Aldo is in Theo's class at school and appeared with Theo in this blog in a cute Halloween photo). They were surfing, boogie boarding, skim boarding, wave boarding, and skate boarding for a good part of the day. (Nathan was very exciting to try surfing for the first time. Theo hopes to try when the weather gets a bit warmer.)

What was remarkable to me is that it just felt like such a "normal" Saturday for us. Nathan was reading. Theo was making pancakes. We got a call from the neighbors and the kids went out to have some fun. The rhythm of life here seems more natural to us now and we are developing some good friendships. Those are definite signs of progress.

What big turning point have I had? That's harder to say. My progress in Spanish is slow. The kids are sprinting ahead while I take baby steps -- but we are all heading in the right direction. My reading has improved a lot. I can read school notices and the newspaper and I feel like I know what's going on around me. I don't have that "completely in the dark" feeling anymore! I can say that I feel much more relaxed and confident here than I did in the fall. I am even much more comfortable driving (a bigger challenge than you might think!). So, all in all, even I can feel the change.

Now that we are feeling so at home here, I think that the spring will fly by.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

El Dia de San Valentin

So for Valentine's day one of the 6th graders threw a big party. It was very fun, and I got to hang with 6th graders, which is a class I really like. The house was huge, a mansion, with a huge yard, panoramic views, and a grass yard (which is very rare in Mexico).

The party lasted all day and fun was had all around.
Here are some pics:breakdancing "on the rocks"
Luis kicked some major butt in pool
Me and Luis
Me and a few of my friends
Abril and Hayat, you can see the house too
the guys
some of the girls

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


During the past two months I've been doing tons of projects at school. I've been really busy and too tired to write blog posts. I had to do a group project on cells for Natural Science class. My group got together at my team member's house. We planned our presentation and created a power point. I did a lot of the work because I can type better than everyone else in my group (even though I am not very fast). It was hard to work in a group, but overall it was a productive meeting. The next project was a play. My group did the Three Little Pigs. I was the littlest pig. I was in the same group so it wasn't that hard to work together. We met at someone's house at 11:00 and prepared what we were going to say. We worked for a long time preparing it but we did it. After that I was tired and ready to go home but we ended up staying until 4:30. It was a long day. After that, we had to get together another day to make the set. I spent a long time making the straw house. After all the work, I think our play was a success.

After that project, I was assigned a project in Catholic class. We had to find information about what you do when you are a priest. It wasn't the most interesting project, but it is done.

With all these projects I've gotten a lot more comfortable speaking in front of the class. It's a good thing because I have another project that I have to do on my own and present in front of the class. I have to study more about cells.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A coldblooded school

I find that our school functions a lot like a coldblooded reptile. On sunny days everything functions well but on the occasional day that it rains, well lets just say it's hard to function and hard for the teachers to control the students.

Our school has no gutters and no eaves so the water has no place to go but run down the walls and leak through the windows. The classrooms are indoor but when you step outside the classroom, you're outside. We have a big cement courtyard that gets totally flooded, perfect for young children (or adolescents for that matter) to splash in. Which is one of the reasons they don't let the elementary out for recess so it makes it very hard for them to buy food (because the snack bar is outside). We also have a dirt field for soccer and big dirt lot where they will be building some more classrooms. None of it is quite level so there are plenty of nice spots for lagoons to form. Not that that's all that bad. During recess you can skip stones in the swamp, but you have to be careful you're not pushed in by anyone.

Some schools in Ensenada do close on especially rainy days but we're a private school and the parents don't see any reason for our school to close. You know they might have a point, but who wants to walk through the rain to go to the bathroom? Not a lot of people, so on rainy days many students are not too motivated to take school seriously.

They did let out school at 2:00 today but if it rains any more I swear our school might flood.