Wednesday, September 30, 2009

i don't even know, you guys

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted about a student's email to me? It was very sweet and high-level.

Today I received an eCard from the same student, which I'm choosing to share with everyone because it is amazing. Haga clic aqui.

I really recommend that you follow the link, since the image and formatting are also key, but in case you don't have that kind of time I'm going to archive the text of the card here.

my best teacher Renata S-

Hi teacher
how are you today? i hope you are doing very good.I am your student Anderson I send you this flower just to prove you how i appreciate the manner you teach me and sincerly i am very flattered that i have some one so special like you as my teacher .iwant to ask you this question but i would like you answer me about it:can you give me permit to be your friend ?i hope fully you will let me hear from you very soon.take care of your self and i wish you a perfect time here in Dominican Republic.
your student Anderson
Your sweet student Anderson

Also, a quick GChat my friend Keane & I had on the subject:

Me: i just wish that the image was actually the cover of twilight like i thought it was at first
Keane: it's so deep
Keane: so are you going to be friends with him?
Keane: he wants your permit.
Me: i think i'll give him a learner's permit to start

It's such a fine line between "sweet" and "a little creepy." But I'm going to just go ahead and give him props for the effort. And the correct spelling of my email address. Peace Corps is truly offering me the opportunity to be an agent of change in the Dominican Republic.

Monday, September 28, 2009

out of the sickbed, into the fire

Not really a fire, just back to Cabarete, which is swelteringly hot. And I think I've had about half an hour of electricity since I got back on Saturday night. It was from 8:30am-9am today.

The main reason this is annoying is that my milk goes bad. Dominican standards for milk are different from in the US. Here, whole milk is the norm. You can buy whole milk in little juice-box sized boxes. This way, you can probably use it all in one day before it goes bad. But whole milk is gross.

You can buy 1% milk at the big grocery store, but it is only available in big boxes. I think they are a liter or something. Anyway. When the electricity is being normal (a few hours on, a few hours off) you can buy a big box of milk and it will probably be okay.

These boxes (of all milk, not just the 1%) are hermetically sealed so they don't go bad. So right now I have an unopened box of milk in my fridge. I am afraid to open it because I don't know when the luz will come back and I don't want to waste a 45-peso big box of milk.

In summation: life is hard!! Wah!!

But on the bright side... I'm feeling better! I got out of my medically-mandated hotel room! Hooray!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

looking on the bright side of things

I was going to write some kind of funny blog entry about how I've been sick for the last four days but actually I'm just pretty tired. Yesterday I came into the capital to see the doctor. We're waiting on some bloodwork to come back to make sure I don't have anything too weird like dengue. Mainly I've been sleeping a lot and only occasionally surfacing to eat crackers and watch reality televsion.

But on the bright side, at least I didn't get tuberculosis* like a friend of mine did! He's in quarantine for like three weeks now. We've decided that he should release an emo album based on the experience entitled Within the Quarantine of my Soul. It will include tracks like "The Empty Calcified Pocket in my Lungs... and Heart" and "I Miss You Like I Miss Not Coughing." Trust me, TB is going to be the next big thing.

* You might be thinking, "I didn't even know people got TB anymore!" Well, they do, but it's pretty rare in developed nations. He'll be fine, though, he's getting antibiotics. And is in quarantine.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

haga clic. haga clic. haga clic. jesus christ, DIJE HAGA CLIC.

The above was pretty much what I was chanting all day today and yesterday as I tried to coach kids through creating email accounts. I realized that I waaay overestimated these kids' skill level. They are extreme beginners, although they are very enthusiastic. Also, the Dominican school system does not emphasize creativity, but rather rote memorization. So, for example, when I was trying to explain the concept of a "user name" I said that usually people do something like their name plus a number or a nickname. Then I said, for example, my email could be "Renata50 at". Then I walked around and realized that half the students were trying to register the account "Renata50@gmail". Not quite, guys. The other half put "Cabarete, Callejon de La Loma" for "desired address."

Anyway, as if this weren't complicated enough, our Internet kept cutting in and out and resetting everyone's work. And then Gmail decided that we had registered enough accounts for one day, thank you very much.

BUT ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, one of the few students who successfully created an account sent me an email to practice his English, and it reads as follows:

Subject: Saluting
Hi Teacher

How are you ? i hope you are very fine.My name is Anderson , i am a student at dream Project .i am 22 years old ,i am intersting very much for the manner you teach me and sincerly i appreciate the computer class so much , i hope fully that i will have a good experience with you at the computer.take care of yourself and God bless you.

your studant Anderson

So, you know... could be worse.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

a brief interlude from peace corps stories

Advise me on my grad school/GRE dilemma, blog readers!

The gist of the dilemma is: Waaah I'm lazy and I don't want to take the GRE. Should I suck it up and do it anyway?

The deets: I am applying for library/information science masters programs. My top two schools, U of Illinois & U Wisconsin (Madison) do not require the GRE. U Iowa and U Washington, which are my... third and fourth choices I guess, DO require the GRE. U ILL says a good GRE score can help an application. U Wisconsin doesn't consider the GRE (right on).

It is possible to take the GRE in the DR, but it's kind of a pain. And expensive. And also I don't want to study for it.

I think I am probably already a pretty good applicant without the GRE. I also think if I suck it up and study I could probably get a pretty good score normally. I have also been having these anxiety problems lately so maybe I would actually just tweak out about it too much. I'm not sure.

Also, if I don't take the GRE it looks like I'm only going to apply to two grad schools. Is that okay? I don't want to flip out and apply to a billion schools or anything, but should I apply to more?

Any input would be appreciated!

Monday, September 7, 2009

surfing photos

I took my camera out to the beach this weekend! Here are a few shots.

Seriously. Not allowed.

Me showing off my board. And by "my board" I mean "the communal beginners' longboards."

I couldn't even tell who I was taking pictures of. I'm pretty sure these are strangers, but just pretend like they're my friends. Or, hey, pretend like one of them is me.

Kicking it on the beach.

Kadi, me, and Surfcat. AWWW.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

awkward conversations with my landlady

Landlady (who I also pay to do my laundry): I’m sorry, when I did your laundry I got bleach on some of your underwear. It’s just that there were stains. You know… blood.
Me: Yeah, sorry… um… it’s fine.
Landlady: Oh, are you embarrassed to talk about this because there are other people here? Don’t worry, they’re my family!
Me: No, no… it’s fine.
Landlady: These are women’s things. We can talk about them.
Me: Yes. Anyway I have to go, bye.

Scene: In front of the small surf boutique my landlady owns.
Landlady: Renata, come here! I want to show you something!
Me: Okay. (Enters store)
Landlady: (Picks up a stack of panties) Look, these are very nice. (Begins showing me each individual pair) These ones have lace… these ones are pink… they are very pretty, right?
Me: Yes, they are very nice. But I already have enough underwear, thank you.
Landlady: Yes, I know. You have a lot of underwear.
Me: …. Anyway I have to go, bye.

Landlady: Do you want me to do your laundry?
Me: Oh, no thank you. I know you are very busy, and my other volunteer friends told me about a Laundromat nearby.
Landlady: You can’t go to a Laundromat! They don’t care about your clothes there! I care about you!
Me: Well… it’s just that the Laundromat is very cheap, and I am a volunteer and don’t have that much money.
Landlady: But I wash your clothes with love!
Me: Well… thank you.

Landlady: Did my girl do a good job cleaning your apartment?
Me: Yes, thank you. How much do I owe her?
Landlady: (Hands up in surrender gesture) It’s up to you.
Me: Well, I thought four hundred was too much. The other volunteers say it costs them two hundred to get their apartments cleaned, and their apartments are much bigger than mine.
Landlady: My girl will not want two hundred. It’s not about money. She cleans your apartment with LOVE. She is not some person who is only interested in money. She has a good heart. She will want three hundred pesos.
Me: … okay.

*Previous awkward conversation involved her talking about “her girl” and me not realizing that she was referring to her middle-aged neighbor who was sitting there the entire time. She convinced me that I should pay “her girl” to clean my apartment because she is so poor and needs the money, even though I feel awkward about the whole idea of paying someone to clean for me. But also I don't want to be overcharged for it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

in case you thought my life was just all glamorous surfing and whatnot

Here's how I've been spending my morning:

Attempting to partition a hard drive and install Windows on it. This is a pretty basic task but I keep getting weird error messages and having to re-install. I have re-installed three times. The power is out and the computers are running off the inversor, but the fans don't work. It is hot and I am frustrated.

Also, I made new cards to number the computers and taped them up on the wall behind each computer. Even though I used the paper cutter, none of my cards are quite identical. Honestly, I'm not even sure how I achieved some of the angles involved with these "rectangular" cards. Good thing I'm not the art teacher I suppose? (Although maybe I would just teach the class about modern art, and how what a rectangle means to me is maybe not what a rectangle means to you. Suck on that.)

This afternoon we start teaching! Our Estrellas Juveniles (Young Stars) program is pretty cool. There are three rotating groups. I'm co-teaching "Computers & English." The others are "Reading & Writing" and "Math." It is kind of a cool program because if a kid just wants to take, say, computer class, he still has to take the other classes and learn even more things. Also, our classes are free.

Anyway, we plan to use these ESL flash games in our class, and they are really fun and I've been playing them all morning even though I already, you know, know English. Also, some of the other volunteers and I have gotten really into the typing games at ARTypist (it's a bilingual site) and are now pretty competitive about it. Right now my top score is 17,000 in the ghost typing game. I was briefly the champion but Roger just blew past me with 19,000. That... might not be as interesting to the average reader as it was to us at the center.

In slightly more exciting news, I went surfing again on Saturday and totally didn't drown! I'm also still totally bad at it, but, as they say, Rome wasn't surfed in two lessons.