First Day of Class

Trip Start Apr 06, 2008
Trip End May 10, 2008

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday was my first day of class, and reminded me why I do not have the stamina to be a teacher.  We have 24 students who are learning English at the community college, and they range in age from 17 to 29.  Most of them are closer in age to 19.  As students of that age are prone to be, class was pretty rowdy at times, and they have a fairly short attention span.  They did pay me one compliment, and that was that my Spanish was much better than the volunteers who had worked with them  before (they also told me I looked much younger than I am, at which point I decided I loved them on the spot).

Their English was surprisingly advanced--much better than my Spanish was even after years of classes--and class highlighted for me just how difficult English is to learn with all of its idiosyncrasies. For example, I was entertained by the difficulty the students have distinguishing "lawyer" from "liar"--a distinction I am sure many believe does not exist at all.  After four hours of class, it also reminded me that being a teacher is exhausting, and I left with a healthy respect for the English teacher (and for Paul who deals with children every day, although in Chicago the school day is only about 10 minutes long), who still had to face an afternoon with the class.

After five days here in Puriscal and two weeks in Costa Rica I find miss three things: (1) hot showers; (2) consistently running water (the last two days we have not had running water after about 3:00 p.m.); and (3) being able to flush toilet paper.  In contrast, I find that the things I enjoy about Costa Rica significantly outweigh the things I miss.  Among those things are: the fresh, pesticide-free fruit (yesterday I learned the proper way to cut a papaya), the PHENOMENAL coffee, the lovely weather, the food, the lack of pollution, the concept of "pura vida," the lack of crime...I could go on and on.  Of course, the program has also been careful to teach us about the realities of living in Costa Rica, and yesterday we had a discussion about poverty, domestic violence and the role of women.  Costa Rica is definitely not a paradise--but it is lovely in many respects.

But for now, we are heading out to today's field trip--a trip that is supposed to include swimming, hiking, and horseback riding.  And lunch.  Ahh, lunch.  I love lunch. 

***Also, as was pointed out to me, America did not technically invade Costa Rica--William Walker did.  I encourage you all to look at the comment posted to that entry, because it is pretty entertaining.  However, as Walker did have the support of the American people (if not necessarily the formal support of the federal government), I stand by my statements.  : )
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