Now, onto this week’s main theme: Halloween!! As a kid in the United States, Halloween is an amazingly fun tradition to celebrate. In Spain, Halloween is slowly becoming more popular each year. My function in these schools is not only to serve as a Secondary English teacher, but I also introduce American culture to students who have never seen or heard about things we take for granted on a daily basis because we consider them to be second nature. For example: picking out costumes on Halloween. My contribution this week to “Las Cuatro Villas” was celebrating Halloween. Shout out to my Mother who bought Halloween headbands at Target to give to my Spanish students. They were absolutely ENTHRALLED by them. I mentioned at the beginning of each class that I had a surprise for the students and of course they looked forward to it the entire time. With the younger children I added drama by pulling out each headband very slowly and then when they saw each one they would scream (in Spanish), “Me! Me! Can I wear that one?!?!” It was a huge hit in every school. In my Agoncillo Art class, I was able to prepare a “lesson”, for that day. At the beginning of class, the pictures they drew for me last week were given to me. They were so adorable! I now have over 20 drawings that I have to figure out what to do with, but it was so sweet. Then, I decided that my contribution to Art class was to make cutout pumpkins. The Art teacher made photocopies of a basic pumpkin shape and the kids colored it in, cut out eyes, a nose and a mouth. To really spice up the work of art, we cut out transparent colored paper to paste on the back of the pumpkin, that way when they taped them to the window, the light would shine through and give it that glowing look. They turned out great!
The next day in Ribafrecha, (the school that will prove to be challenging), we watched Halloween movies all day. Juana originally wanted to play “The Corpse Bride”, a Tim Burton film and ten minutes into it, the kids hated it. She played it in English and they couldn’t follow the film. She turned to me and asked if I knew any good films. I told her my favorite Halloween film of all time, “Hocus Pocus”. She asked me to find it, and play it. Fortunately, the full version was on Youtube! Although it was in English, watching the film is easier because you can see everything the characters are doing clearly while they are speaking. When the first class watched, they were completely silent. Juana looked at me in disbelief saying, “I’ve never seen them this silent”. I had to smile a bit at that one. Me-1, Ribafrecha-0. I watched the first 45 minutes of “Hocus Pocus” four times that day. Juana told me to write down the information because she loved the movie. The movie “Hocus Pocus” never fails.
Yesterday proved ESPECIALLY interesting, it was my first day going to San Roman, the fourth school! This school literally only has seven students. It is tucked away in a small, picturesque town in the mountains. I went with Javier, the teacher of every subject minus P.E. to the school by car from Logroño. It was about 45 minutes away and the road was full of twists and turns. Cows would randomly be in the road, and as we continued, the road would gradually get narrower. San Roman’s roads are all cobblestone. The village is beautiful and next time I go, which will be next month, I will take pictures.
This school has a family atmosphere. The students are like brothers and sisters with one another. In this school there are: two Romanian students (cousins), a Peruvian student, a Columbian student and three Spanish students. One of the Romanian boys was celebrating his birthday and when I arrived he had a bag of Lindt chocolate to give to Javier, the school administrator, the P.E. teacher and me! I’ve never understood Spanish birthdays, people give YOU things on their birthday. It was a great way to start my time there. However, they did not need the headbands as each child had a very convincing Halloween costume! The Romanian boys were vampires and one had even made a coffin from a cardboard box, the four girls were witches and the youngest child came with a spider painted on his cheek. We spoke to each other in English and I was astounded that their English levels were so high! Javier played a math game with them and I played too. It took me very little time to realize that when Javier would say, “dos más dos” it meant “two plus two”. It was a rapid speed round and we had to add two to the previous number the last student guessed. That was in Spanish not English and I think the kids were surprised I could do math in Spanish. As long as it stays that basic, I think I can handle it in another language.
We ate cake for the boy’s birthday, played games for recess and Javier asked me what I did with the other schools that week and I told him about the Art class and movie time at Ribafrecha and he said he wanted to incorporate that at the end of the day. This time we cut out bats and glued on colorful eyes. The last half hour of the day was the fifth time I had seen the beginning of Hocus Pocus in the last two days. Good thing it’s my favorite!!
So far, my time at the schools has been fantastic. I have realized I really like helping teach English with the older students. The oldest I have worked with are 14 years old. The age of a freshman in High School in the US. So maybe I overlooked teaching High School Spanish too quickly…I don’t know…there is still a long time until the end of the school year.
Finally, good news is that we have Internet in the apartment!! Bad news is that it isn’t wi-fi yet. It is a temporary modem and the connection is not very strong. We need to have Catalina come over to let the technician turn on the telephone line. Monday and Tuesday are Holidays here in Spain so I guess wi-fi will have to wait for a couple days.
More to come soon!