Friday, October 24, 2008

don´t curse the darkness, light a candle... er... open your cell phone

This season’s Gringo Grita is, mas o menos, completed, and I’ve been back in my site for a few days now. I hurried back on Monday to make sure I was there in time for my 6pm English class—which, of course, no one attended. Oh well. It is nice to be back, though. I’m glad I had the excuse to be away for so long. I was definitely getting a little disenchanted, but after 9 days away I’m feeling much happier and saner here. I was particularly glad that upon my return, my nun greeted me with “Te echamos de menos!” (We missed you!) instead of the common Dominicanism “Tu estabas perdida!” (You were lost!) They both mean basically the same thing, but to Americans (at least among me and my circle of friends) it is way more annoying to hear “you were lost!” than “we missed you!”

Being away gave me a chance to put all the stuff that was annoying me about my site in perspective. Like: yes, it’s annoying that my town watches me like paparazzi on Brangelina, but they do it out of affection. I need to step back and take some things less personally—advice we’ve been given since day one at Entrena, but advice that’s decidedly tricky to actually follow. I mean, interpersonal relationships are one of my biggest stressors, how am I supposed to take those less personally? I guess the thing isn’t exactly to take them less personally, but to correctly interpret the cultural signifiers present in every interaction, which can be exhausting. (This exhaustion has actually been helpful in my quest to overcome my American sense of productivity. It’s hard to get too worked up about only working a few hours a day when you’re sleeping ten hours a night and maybe throwing a nap in there too.)

So it’s good to be back. And! Last night I had a pretty successful English class, after 3 weeks (granted, including one week where I was perdida) of trying to get them off the ground. The illiterate student left, but two new students came, bringing me up to three, all of whom seem interested and dedicated. Dedicated enough to stick around for the whole class, although the power was out for about half of it. I asked if they wanted to go home, but instead they used their cell phones to light up their handouts and we kept on going in the dark.

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