It has been a looong time since I posted! The days go by too quickly, with too much to do! My time in Peru is quickly coming to an end, and I will be back home two weeks from today (unless something goes terribly wrong with my flights, which would not even be a little surprising).
I will leave the school where I am teaching next week Friday to travel to Cusco for a few days. I am so excited about this, as I had really wanted to see Machu Picchu, but I didn’t have the money and I didn’t want to travel alone. However, there is a family here right now from the States with their three small children and they are going down, and invited me to join them! It worked out so perfectly because they have already booked places to stay and I can just stay with them!
Little baby Solomon, who I posted about previously, is the happiest baby around. The doctor has decided he’s closer to nine months old, rather than the 5 or 6 months they thought previously. He’s gained weight since arriving and is everybody’s favourite new attraction.
We went out to visit some pre-Incan pyramid ruins this past weekend, and it was absolutely amazing! Again, the museum was all in Spanish – so I was out of luck! But there was far more to see at this site! We got to see different excavation sites, as well as many of the things removed from the tombs! Val, I thought about your museum fetish and you would have been fascinated.
Fun fact: If you were married to an important guy (or were one of his concubines), when he died, you got buried with him. Sometimes, they graciously killed the woman first, or sometimes they would bury her alive. Some of the excavations have found caskets with the insides all scratched out. Creepy, right?
I also feel I am just starting to get a handle on the language – maybe that is an overstatement. I do understand quite a bit, but I can’t speak as much as I understand, which is frustrating. This whole language journey has been so challenging. I have worked so much with ESL students, young and old, and I have a whole new appreciation for the effort it takes to learn a language. I have not learned nearly as much as I would have liked to here, but I am too busy to sit down and study it, so I only pick up what I am hearing. I am also learning how much of a visual learner I am, compared to an auditory learner. I hear so many words every day, but it isn’t until someone writes it down for me that I am able to remember what it means. I need to actually see the words written down. Needless to say, my admiration for additional language learners has multiplied astronomically.
Another volunteer has just arrived on the compound from AFRICA! Her name is Shula, and she is our new roommate. She will be staying in the house after the house parents, Bob and Janet, return to America in two weeks. She is incredible. She studied Community Development at university in South Africa and also attended a college in the States. She has worked with an AIDS organization in Mozambique and even started her own school in her village. We got to visit this morning when she first arrived, and she told me how much she loves Coldstone ice cream. It was then I knew we’d be best friends.
This last week, my younger students moved on from animals to insects. It was a really fun theme to do with them! One day, the girls coloured pictures of butterflies, and the boys coloured Spiderman pictures – which they asked to colour every day that week. We ended the week with a bug hunt! The students were paired and had plastic bags for their specimen. They were so excited.
Only after the first spider was caught did I realize my major mistake… Juan held up his spider and yelled, “MISS KAILEE! IT’S A SPIDERMAN!” I could only shake my head, “No, Juan, it’s a SPIDER.” Toothless grin: “SI, A SPIDERMAN.” This was followed by other students screaming that they also found Spidermen. So if you ever meet a Peruvian that thinks spiders are called Spiderman, it’s likely that I taught them.
While the kids usually understand my English and I usually understand their Spanish, I was also reminded of the potential for misunderstanding in fourth grade this week. They are still studying animal habitats, and we had just played a game, in which there was a tie. As a tie breaker, I thought we could do a mini Pictionary contest, and one student from each team could participate. I explained that both students would be drawing the same picture on the board and whatever team could guess the picture first would win. I took the two students outside and told them they were to draw a lion. I asked them if they understood. They said yes. They came back into the classroom, stood at the board, and on the count of three… they both wrote the word “lion” on the board. I’m still laughing about it.
Some of my beautiful fourth graders:
The younger grades have now moved onto to action words. Our new favorite game, (which is highly entertaining), is Dance/Freeze. We listen to music and dance, and when the music stops, we freeze. We are learning about dancing, which is an action word, so it’s very educational.
Well, I have officially learned all of my students names – all 112 of them! Just in time to leave… I have grown to love all of them so much, it has been an incredible experience being able to learn with them and having to leave will be really hard. I have also had a chance to see a lot of them outside of school, as Karen and I go walking in the town most afternoons. As we walk down the dirt roads, it is not uncommon to run into 5 or 6 of my students. They are usually covered in dirt from their heads to their toes (it is impossible to stay clean here because it’s so dusty), and they always come running and screaming, “Miss Kailee! Miss Kailee!” I’m not going to lie, it kind of warms my heart; I get so excited to see them.
Seeing them on the streets also reminds how different their lives have been from mine. Their lives are different, but beautiful. I don’t know how to explain it. There is so much beauty everywhere, and sometimes we get caught up allowing our differences to define and divide us. We choose not to see the beauty in our differences. We choose not to celebrate the many colours and shapes and sizes and smells and tastes that make us who we are. We create “us and them” mentalities, and we forget that even in our differences, we share a common humanity. This happens on a large scale between nations and cultures, and this happens every day in our lives as we come into contact with people. We can choose to build walls, or we can choose to break them down. We can choose to see people as entirely different than ourselves, or we can appreciate the fact that we are all walking this road together.
Life, wherever or however it looks, is beautiful. We just need to choose to see it.