Saturday, March 24, 2012

La Candelaria

Sadly, it has taken me 7 months to hop on a bus (only ONE bus) and go downtown (el centro).  This is the heart of Bogotá where the city's first neighborhood was established and where the museums and the government are.  There is so much going on and so much culture.  It's old and run-down in many ways but the beauty in the history of it all is breathtaking.  Two of my new friends, Tiffany and Juan Pablo, invited me to go see a parade downtown.  We went early because I wanted to walk around and enjoy the city.  Here's a glimpse of our 2-hour lovely...

Old Convent, converted into loft apartments.  Sweet!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lessons Learned

In the afternoon, I happened to look out the window of my office as one of my fifth graders decided to flick off another student.  It was very dramatic.  He was on the second floor and the other student was already halfway across the field.  It raised his right arm high and stuck up that special finger.  Nice.  I casually exited the office and entered the student’s classroom where he had returned to finish packing his bag.  “Can you explain what you were just doing outside?”  He looked up with a shocked expression, “I wasn’t doing anything”.  I repeated myself, “What just happened outside?”  Again, “Nothing, I don’t know what you’re talking about”.  “I saw you.  Are you saying that I’m crazy?”  (very possible)  His reply “I didn’t do with my hand what you think...”.  Haha! Caught.  He still refused to confess after a minute of back and forth (I don’t have much patience).  I told him his lying was much worse than what he had done and left the room.

In the evening, I received this:

And the message that followed was:

Sorry for saying you lies. I did the finger rudness to JOHN DOE cause, few minutes before you came, he jus kick me without reason. I'm very sorry for saying you lies about that. I already reflect about that was not the method to solve this problem. I hope you understand my situation cause I was really, really mad with him cause he sticked a kick over my leg and got running.

Please note the faux New York Times cover story with a picture of me, a picture of Pinocchio, and some other messages about lies being bad, truth being good, and the student being sorry.  Too cute!  God knows we’ve all reacted in anger without thinking before but this student went home and made this after thinking about what had happened (I like to think that he truly regretted his actions and learned from his mistake but he was probably a little scared as well because he never gets in trouble).  Perhaps I shouldn’t be so delighted by this but it was just so darn adorable, don’t you agree? 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sweet Satisfaction

Today I had a very proud moment...

I arrived to work to find my desk covered in water. It had been pouring for a good 12 hours straight, where the water was coming from, I didn't really know.  I cleaned up the water with scrap paper - we don't seem to have paper towels anywhere on campus and then I sat down to work as a drop of water splattered onto my desk and into my face.  Awesome.  So I got a mug to put under the leak to catch the water.   4 minutes later the drop landed in the mug but also splashed out of the mug onto my desk, my laptop and again, my face.  Yes, I am convinced Colombian raindrops are larger than the average raindrop.  Next step? I filled the mug with yarn that I had from a circumference investigation project so that the water wouldn't splash.  Result = pure perfection. For the rest of the morning I happily worked as I watched drop after drop of water landing in my perfectly positioned mug, without any further spillage onto my things.   Hooray.

I did report the leak as well, although the director of the middle school and I agreed that perhaps it would cheaper to just buy me some more yarn...or a sheep...but perhaps the noise (bah bah) would distract others from their work.  I guess I'll just have to wait for them to repair the whole in the roof.  But until then, I've tackled my problems so that nothing can get in the way of my grading and planning.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tejo: A Colombian Sport

View from our home for the weekend. So peaceful.
Just returned from a long weekend in Moniquirá.  A small town in the departamento (like a state) of Boyacá but bordering the departamento of Santander.   Juan Carlos' friend Freddy invited us to drive up with him and stay with his family for the weekend.  So nice to have the invite and to get away - great food, plenty of time to sleep and relax, I read an entire book (Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children per Katie Norwood's recommendation) and I learned to play Tejo!!!

What, you might ask, is Tejo?  Tejo is a truly Colombia game (only second to soccer in popularity!) that I wish everyone had the chance to play.  It's kind of like horsehoes but with explosives! ...literally, explosives.  To play, first, you buy beer.  You don't have to pay for the canchas (courts, I guess is the best translation) or the time but you have to buy beer.  Funny rules these Colombians have, but this is a rule that I can live with.  (Also, this might just have been at the location we were guess is that in the big city of Bogotá they require you to buy beer AND to pay to play).  Anyhow, you get a tejo.  This is a round, flat disk (about an inch and a half thick) that weighs about 2 pounds.  This is what you throw at the target.  The target is a wooden box on an incline and the surface is covered with clay.  In the center, you place 4 mechas little paper rectangles filled with gunpowder (I think) or some sort of explosive material around the bocin - a metal circle.  The teams take turns to throw their tejos from 18 meters away (about 60 feet).  The person with the tejo that lands on the board closest to the bocin earns a mano for their team.  You can also earn 3 points by hitting a mecha.  You know when you've hit a mecha because the friction between the tejo, mecha (filled with gunpowder) and the metal bocin causes an explosion!  It's so fun!  But very difficult...I hit a mecha once and was SO excited!b

Here's a perhaps better description of the game by Wikipedia followed by pictures of my first Tejo experience.
The Tejo court and my target.
These are the mechas that are full of gunpowder.
 Action shots...I actually improved quite a bit...
...despite the fact that I look like I'm involved in some sort of interpretive dance!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tea with my little Mad Hatters

The English teacher of my fifth graders put together an adorable project for my tiny tots.  The read the chapter about the Mad Hatter and the tea party from Alice and Wonderland, learned about conundrums, and then made Mad Hats and created invitations to a Mad Tea Party.  At the party the presented on Lewis Caroll, how the book came to be, and read us their conundrums.  Too cute!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Day at the Farm

Field trips are the best.  I get to really enjoy the time with my students and their unique and hilarious personalities - sans math lessons, sense of urgency and discipline (although, with 12 and 13-year-olds there is always a bit of reprimanding taking place).  Our trip to the farm was no exception - so wonderful!
The bus couldn't make it up the last road, so we walked the mile+ to the farm...
... and not a single student complained.
When we arrived we got to corral a llama...
...and do a lot of climbing - up hills...
...and through caves.
We even found time to relax...

...and to play with bunnies!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

KONY 2012

This blog began 3 years ago with my trip to Uganda with an organization called Invisible Children.  I traveled to Uganda to work in a school in Northern Uganda, teaching and interacting with the students and teachers to discuss the power of education and what is possible.  I went though because I had been inspired by this organization to do my part to help the people of Northern Uganda who had suffered so much from the war there.  I went because I did not know what else to do.  The experience changed my life... I went back to graduate school to focus on international education development and with that I moved to Colombia to keep learning and understanding how education can transform the lives of others.

But in the craziness of my own life and my own adventures, I forgot that my friends in Uganda and others in Africa are still dealing with the war and the effects of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army which has abducted tens of thousands of children and killed, raped, and mutilated tens of thousands more.  Recently, Invisible Children created this video and call to action that has reminded me that despite any of the "hardships" I might feel in my life, I am extremely blessed.  My original interaction with Invisible Children inspired me to do more with my life but this new video reminds my that there is much more that I can be doing to positively impact the lives of others.

As with everything there is another side to this story and it is up to you to decide where you stand.  Still, I felt it my duty to share this information with you, as I think it is something that everyone should know about.  I've included the video from Invisible Children followed by additional information, including some of the critiques.


NPR Story:  While Contoversial, 'KONY 2012' has put focus on atrocities
Another side of the story:  Visible Children Blog, Kony 2012 viewed critically

Thanks to Haley for keeping me up-to-date! :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bucket list: 13.1 in Bogotá!

So... I have been feeling a bit lazy and bored lately (perhaps these two feelings don't go hand-in-hand...but it feels like that right now).  I'm in need of a project.  I applied for some curriculum development projects - but no one seems to want to hire someone who is working in Colombia. :(  I also have been less active than I should be.  So after reading through my Bucket List for the 15th time and being inspired by friend Ms. Sophia Burton, I signed up for the Media Maratón Bogotá.  No I haven't been running, unless playing basketball once a week with 14 year old girls counts (it doesn't in my book).  And yes, the city is located 8,612 feet above sea level, making breathing a bit more difficult.  Still, the bucket list said run a half marathon in another country, so you betcha I'm going to do this.  I mean I've run a marathon before and I've run two half marathons how hard could this be, right?!


Today, I went for my first run.  Runner's World tells me, if I consider myself a beginner (I do.), that I need 14 weeks to train.  I currently have 21.  So I've decided that I need to run 30 minutes 2 times each week and then an hour on the weekends (ideally).  Today I gave myself 30 minutes.  I ended up running 33 minutes and only going 2.75 miles.  That's a 12 minute mile!  Oh dear.  I've got some work to do.  I'm also totally pooped...and sore...and hungry....and I only went 2.75 miles on a completely flat road. 

Still, I have something to work towards and that feels wonderful.  Will keep you posted on my progress and if you have tips on nutrition, cross-training, etc.  I'm all ears! :)