Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Will I Be Driven To Drink?

When Lily and I became partners in the Teacher Exchange Program we spent some time via e-mail and telephone calls describing our job and homes. I tried my best to inform her of what the work expectations would be, and I even went as far as having my position changed from a regular classroom teacher to a pullout Spanish Language Teacher. I figured the demand and pressure would be less, and this would allow Lily to better enjoy her time in the States. I assumed that as a professional, that she would ensure I knew all I needed to about her position, to help in my transition and smooth year.
After my arrival in Murcia and the discovery of the wonderful artwork in her house I should have suspected that perhaps she hadn't been completely forthcoming. 
I was shocked to discover that she had somehow managed to forget to mention that the town I was to teach in had suffered a major earthquake the previous year. Now this would not have changed my decision to participate in the program. After all, I had already survived an earth shaking moment in Mexico City. However, the fact that the local school had been completely destroyed and  classes were being held in temporary structures may have made me think twice about what I was committing to.
I learned of the situation as we drove to Burra. My new compañeros explained that the school was now divided into two parts. The older students, those that I would mainly be working with, were taught in a building on the outskirts of town. The building, normally used for storage, had been graciously lent to the public school district by the private school that owned it. All I could think was that a private school's warehouse couldn't be that bad, or could it? What I envisioned didn't prepare me for the decrepit building that stood amongst the fruit orchards. From the outside the dilapidated building looked better suited for destruction than education. The inside wasn't much better. I was beginning to wonder about Lily's real motivation for her participation in the Teacher Exchange Program.

I was introduced to the 5 teachers I would be working with. They each had their own classroom. However, due to a lack of space I was left "classroomless". Not ideal for the language teacher who needed lots of visuals and manipulatives to aid in the process of language learning. I quickly reflected on the roving language teachers back in the States, lugging their gear from room to room in a cart; I figured I could work something out. However, my optimism quickly dwindled as I was shown what would be my storage space in the lounge--a bottom shelf of a bookshelf that was already home to a couple of bottles of booze. I couldn't help but wonder if they were left by Lily or the tool necessary for my survivial.

1 comment:

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