Way too long...

Trip Start Feb 14, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Chile  ,
Sunday, May 13, 2007

What can I say...where do I begin after being away for so long...First, to my loyal visitors, in particular, Mr. Starr, the way of the pen has not been lost on me although I cannot say the same for the fingers to the buttons- my apologies amigo.
All is more than well as I am sure you all can imagine.  However, it has been overcast the past few, the onset of winter gloom is finally upon me.  For the longest time, since early April, I was expecting showers, attacking showers at that, which no umbrella can withstand, but yet the sun's relentless glory shone in defiance of the coloquial Chilenismo, "en Abril, aguas mil." 
But maybe the gray skies come with a hidden blessing, maybe they have brought me inward and given me time for contemplation and reflection which for in the face of sunny days, is near impossible.  So in summary, I have been living in the moment, enjoying each day as the blessing it truly is for I am here in Chile, finally realizing my dreams of living and working abroad, submersing myself in another language and culture. Ahh, que suerte. 
Now, to get to the bare bones, what the hell have I been up to the past three months!?! 
"I got answers, you got questions" (taken straight from McCauley's New York late night spot)  In short, life has been good.  Work is just enough to be super busy some days but completely free others- what is it that I do? 
Well, as a Fulbrighter at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaíso, my job is to assist and often teach Chilean students (and teachers) what life is like beyond the MTV/Hollywood exported image that many people consider the everyday reality of life in the US...and in many cases, I tell them that what they see is exactly correct, such as in episode 12 of My Sweet Sixteen, When the Horrific Life of a Long Island Cheerleader Turns Tragic...No, basically I've been giving them the scoop, what is theu US really like, differences between NYC and LA, why Chicago is the best city in the States, what Italian beef tastes like, and so on.  I mainly help with explaining the basics of pedagogy, giving lessons on classroom management, the use of positive reinforcement in the classroom, preparing lessons from beyond the given textbook. 
There are about 150 students in the English pedagogy program (Chileans studying to be teachers of English in high school and middle school) and the Translation and Interpretation program.  I have visited nearly 3/4ths of the classrooms but for those who haven't heard me talk, most of the students recognize me as the local gringo and have seen me around campus- there are not many people walking around looking like a direct descendant of Eric the Red or your everyday Amish farmer- yes, my beard is red and ferocious, winter is upon us.  Also, gringo is a very common word, used by young and old alike in Chile, to identify foreigners.  It is not meant in a spiteful or demeaning way,  however, as it is in places like Mexico.  I often use it myself, speaking in the third person about my new and exciting experiences in Chile, sending my students roaring with laughter.  From the University, where foreigners are very common, to elementary schools tucked away in Valparaíso's rolling hills, everyone seems genuinely interested in getting to know me, and learning more about where I came from and what I do...
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