The first two days of school were decent, nothing too exciting happened in my neck of the woods. Mainly because my neck of the woods was someone’s office where I “worked on lesson plans”, which actually meant email and talk to friends and family while googling “adolescent feelings” every once and a while. I got enough work done, but I was super bored and a little defeated at the end of Tuesday. I sat alone at lunch (its not like everyone was sitting together and I was the only one alone, but I like people and I just wanted a single friend!) and felt like Cady Heron all day. The teachers were being friendly and cordial to me, but had classes of their own to deal with and weren’t spending their whole days getting to know me (how dare they?!).
I told my dad a little of this on Tuesday evening and he replied with the perfect response of “they’ll love you as soon as they get to know you” and “just give it some time”. Umm, Dad are you psychic? Wednesday was a complete change from the previous two days.
Wednesday was the first day which ADP classes met. While I wasn’t ready to start teaching fully on my own and the school does one week of “no curriculum, just enjoyment”, I was in the classroom with two veteran teachers and the first batch of students. After brief introductions, the students worked on a team building activity and the two teachers and I sat and chatted. Like, really chatted. We talked about their children, crazy things people wear, the insane heat, the differences in schooling between Guyana and America. Up to that point, most conversations had been about where I needed to be or what my role was going to look like. Having some human conversations made me feel way more relaxed and like I actually could fit in at this school.
The day progressed and I met the three of my classes, finally teaching the third on my very own! I should say, however, that the third class was just the three girls who are in the cosmotology program. They were so nice and interested and willing to laugh at every single joke I made. But still, I taught them on my own! And…wait for it… I had a friend at lunch! A teacher friend sat with me and we had great conversation. I feel so silly patting myself on the back so extensively for making a friend, but this is a big first step in growing comfortable and in feeling settled in this new place. I didn’t know any of these people a few days ago, and its a daunting thought to think I may have been eating lunch alone for the whole school year. I’ve never been in a situation where I have the potential to feel or to be so alone until now; I think its safe to say I’m making do, so far.
The hardest part of the school day was surprisingly not the three well-behaved girls I worked with at the end of the day. I’m still really struggling with the language barrier. I know, Guyana is an English speaking country. But the English they speak here is buried underneath their Caribbean accents and sounds like a foreign language. When spoken to directly, I can normally decipher the words. But when the students are speaking to each other, especially when slang comes in, I am so lost. They could be saying the alphabet and I would still have this dumbfounded and confused look on my face. It has gotten easier since my arrival and I know it will continue to get easier, but it’s a difficulty I definitely did not expect to face.
When I got onto my second bus this morning three students from my school were already on it and greeted me, which was fun. When I arrived at school many students said “good morning Miss Annie” (the girls say my name in such a high pitched voice, its weird but also cute at the same time). I’m so excited to continue getting to know the students; I already feel so much more comfortable after one day with them and I know that will just grow into more and more comfort as my relationships become stronger. This afternoon I’m going with another teacher to the AmerIndian Exhibition: a week-long festival celebrating Guyana’s indigenous population. The festival is a little ways from school, but we will walk with the students there and back. This festival has been talked about like crazy, so I’m excited to get a deep look into the Guyanese culture. We were also invited by a few Sisters to go with them tomorrow night. Friday night on the town with the nuns, woo-hoo!
I’m fairly sure this is the only time I’ll ever allow myself to brag SO much about making a few new friends. But, don’t quote me on that…