Life Taking Shape

My social and work lives are really starting to feel stable these days. In the last two weeks I’ve felt like answering the question ‘What work do you do?’ has become clearer and more satisfying. In addition to the planning and teaching I do with my three main counterpart teachers, I’ve begun to support a fourth English teacher in my school because she is beginning her student teaching there. I’m giving regular trainings for elementary school and high school teachers about topics like learning styles and strategies of effective teachers. In addition to my twice-weekly evening English classes, I’m going to start giving one morning class per week for teachers and interested community members. These are the main projects that are taking up the bulk of my time, but there are also intermittent talks and trainings that I give or help with, like the training that I and two other English volunteers gave this weekend.

Peace Corps has developed a companion guide to the national curriculum to provide English teachers with activities, teaching strategies, vocabulary, grammar topics and materials suggestions. These ‘TEFL manuals’ are extremely helpful for the English teachers, who rarely have any resources to work from otherwise. The second edition was just completed by a committee of volunteers and Peace Corps staff, so we gave a training on how to use the new manual. It feels really good to be doing work that is directly helpful to teachers and students.

Socially my life has been picking up, too. I’ve begun to make close friends, mostly from my English class, and I continue to grow closer to my host family, counterpart teachers, and other teachers in the schools. When I walk down the main street, people not only nod or wave to me, but exchange news, greetings, and conversations. I feel solidly on the local side of the local-foreigner divide in my town, which has been a struggle considering how many tourists travel through. Another side benefit to a better social life has been that one of my new friends, Ruth, has agreed to help me get back into a running schedule. Really all she does is provide me with a commitment to go for a run. She works in a house along my running route, so on Tuesdays and Thursdays we are developing a routine where I stop by her house to say hi and then continue on my way. It’s just the nudge I need to get out of bed before 6 when I don’t really need to. She is even starting to join me for a short bit of the run!

Of course, with increased work and social commitments come increased stress at times, but it’s a welcome change to the hours and days of feeling aimless and isolated that I periodically experienced in my first few months. The amount of reading that I’m doing has gone down significantly, but hasn’t disappeared (really enjoyed ‘Water for Elephants.’ Thanks, mom and dad!). I spend less time cooking and more time buying yogurt, bread, orange juice, granola bars, and Ramen noodles to eat when I’m low on time or energy. Still, I feel healthy and happier than I have been in Nicaragua yet. The current happiness is likely due in part to the good-feelings backlash to the funk I went through a couple of weeks ago, but I’m not complaining. Life is good and looks to only improve from here. Especially when Amanda visits in six weeks! 🙂

The heat of the last few weeks has subsided recently, and we’ve had some of the first rains of the rainy season. I’m still trying to figure out the seasons here, but it seems like summer is December through May and winter is June through November. The benefits of winter are less dust being whipped up into eyes and noses and lower temperatures, but it will mean more rain, humidity, and mud. I’m also told that it will mean more mosquitoes, gnats, and flies. Yuck.

The recent island TEFL manual training group


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Allie on May 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Yay! Glad things are going well. The long adjustment periods are always hard, but it seems like you’re finally building some real relationships and settling in. And to basically be viewed as a local is a pretty big step. Keep it up!


  2. Posted by Cindy Salo on May 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Oh joy! You feel at home–how fabulous. Thanks for the delightful post.
    I’m glad your sweetie is visiting soon.



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