Boxes have been sent, papers taken care of, good-byes said and last Vietnamese food eaten. Now it is time for the balance as I get on step closer to stepping on that plane that will fly me away from this place.
It has been 5 years in which I have done so many things, gone to so many places in and outside of the USA, so many people met and with it all, so much learnt.
From my first year I keep a bitter-sweet taste, and with exception of a few things, I don’t like the overall picture I see right now. Let’s see: I remember Christoph and the hardship and fun I endured trying to persuade him or myself that, once he was done with his bike trip from Alaska to Tierra de Fuego, we should be together. I think it was in Guatemala when I probably decided that things were not going to be that way, and that after all, we would not be together.
The worst memory is Jose’s car accident and everything around it. How with him I had to play the “please-give-it-a-chance-I-can be-worth-it” type of role again and how that not only hurt me but people around me as well. The positive side: Nieves was there for me that night of the accident, when I needed her most.
But amongst the many colourful notes I have to mention Nieves, Cruz, and even though I still didn’t know it by that time, Vinh above all of them. Yes! In a peculiar kind of way Vinh got himself in the picture. I have to say that maybe without his insistence and endurance, it might have never happened.
Vinh used to serenade us with his guitar, very late at night even on those days when we had to work barely a few hours after. Oasis and the unknown Duncan Sheik were on the repertoire almost exclusively.
Then, the trips. I remember going to Canada with him and Nieves. We had such a wonderful time… I miss the three of us being together. We made a cool group. Shopping at Zara in Vancouver, buying silly rings, trying Vietnamese food for one of our first times, taking tons of pictures with many pigs around Seatle, zooming through the roads up to 100 miles/hour (and not getting a ticket!!!) and blasting the stereo in the rental car until the mirrors moved.
And I remember working that first year. Oh my, oh my… I was so lost… I stayed up to late evening hours after a work day but somehow that still did not seem to matter much. Because I never did my lesson plan, and still don’t do it, and because every morning I felt a quizzy kind of feeling in my tummy. I was a teacher for the first time! And I had to do it all in English.
I remember something that even after five years, still hasn’t changed: looking at these American teachers and thinking how weird they were (no offense) and thinking I would never could or want be and one of them. Their loud laughter, their lack of the “sense of fashion”, their “spirit”, their “dedication”. After a while (a long one) I started to make friends. Sylvia wasn’t too weird. She helped me a lot and plus, she could speak some Spanish, so even if it was only because of that, we became friends. Carla, despite sending me a memo regarding my inappropriate attire that I still keep very well laminated in my sentimental stuff box, seem to be cool (hey! Nonetheless, she never asked for a single lesson plan for me!)
Auria, always smiling, understanding… like an island for shelter in my lowest hours.
And the kids? Well, we learnt from each other: they very explicitly showed me that in the States people do not use “trousers” but “pants”, and that in Mexican Spanish “tonto” and “culo” were not acceptable words. Poor me! A Castilian-speaking-British English-learner-first-time teacher! They were always cute, their families making it all worthwhile… Their beautiful tan skin, dark eyes and dark hair. Their cute spelling mistakes, journal stories and dumb quarrels at recess. Their English! Oh, my God! If only they knew how I have always flipped out with how good their pronunciation was… All the stories we read together, all the math I loved teaching and they seemed to enjoy learning… I think in the end I will miss all that. I will not miss all the assessment that went with it, though.
In the end, probably it all were the best part of my being here that first year.
My last classroom. It took me a long while to make it look this American! ;-)