Teaching in Los Andes has included a number of refreshing changes from what  I was accustomed to in the States. One of the principle ones, is that although it gets chilly during June-early August,  there is never ever snow. As a result, there are never snow days. Instead, teachers have something else to hope for….EARTHQUAKE days!! If an earthquake reaches 5.5 on the richter scale, the water and power supplies are briefly cut off, which is enough to cause a delay or cancelation. Case in point, one day I was relaxing and drinking a cup of coffee in the teacher’s lounge. We felt a short 5-10 second shake. It was enough to make me and other teachers put our hands on the table and look at the ceiling with alarm. When rumble quickly stopped, I heard the physical education teacher  scream, “Que siga conchatumadre!!” (keep going you son of bitch!!). I found out later the shake only reached 4.9.
          Besides earthquake days, I also have soccer days to hope for. On Thursdays and Fridays I’m encouraged to play soccer with the students. I shed my boxy teacher outfit and throw on some light soccer clothes, which means attractive female teachers give me tons of up-downs (pretty safe assumption :D). Everyone in Chile has an innate belief that South American soccer is infinitely better than North American soccer, and that “gringos” can’t compete with their superior latin genetics. If soccer is mostly genetics, then I’m going to point out the fact that I have hearty German blood, and suspiciously african calves.; this gringo plays for keeps, son!
Captura de pantalla 2013-05-10 a la(s) 5.45.10 PM
        For 10 minutes I get to play a peaceful game of 5 v. 5 with the older students. On the completely fenced-in field, 5 v. 5 is absolutely perfect! But this serenity is interrupted by hoards of younger students getting off of lunch. In swarms they enter the field (pictured above)… like a bunch of mini agent smiths from the Matrix, all dressed in the same white top with blue pants attire. In a few minutes, the game turns from 5 v 5, to 15 v 15, to 25 v. 25, which is ABSOLUTE CHAOS!! It basically feels like Nazi Zombies, where you’re running around frantically and absolutely overrun from every goddamn direction. When you finally get your foot on the ball, you’re lucky to get three touches and a shot. In most cases,  once you’re near the ball, it will immediately get deflected in some random ass direction. You’ll have to weave yourself through a nauseatingly dense crowd of 10-15 year olds to go find it again. If your lucky enough to score, your teammates will yell like bandits and give you a swarming hug that’s only a few steps away from a dogpile. Through all of its absurdity, It’s definitely a great time. It’s exactly what I came to Chile for!
           A great quirk about teaching specifically in Los Andes is that everyone I meet in town has at least some connection to the school. I met a guy who owns a video-game store at the Mall. We shot the shit for a bit, and talked about Playstation 4 and the Next Xbox. As I was about to leave he told me that I was his 3rd grade daughter’s teacher. That was awesome to know, because now every time I see his daughter I feel like a have a better connection, and we always have something to talk about (how ridiculous the Xbox Kinect is). Another time I met a mom at the park, who lives with her son. Her son happens to be in my Pre-Kinder class (4 years old). She told me that he is always is saying “hello” and “goodbye” to people, and for me, it’s cool to know that he is using something! The mom then divulged the detail that her son is constantly pissing his bed, and that she has no idea what to do about it.  It’s the little details that make things richer!
                Throughout my first two months in Los Andes, I’ve had many different kinds of experiences. Obviously, some of my favorite ones are those where I get a sense of the differences between Chilean culture and American culture. Of course, there are experiences that leave me shocked (but it’s a good shock! A REFRESHING shock!). These are the types of things that that would never ever occur the same way in the United States. Here’s volume 1… enjoy!

________________________________________________________________________

          1. A student pulled out a lighter and flicked it to a flame during my lesson. I decided to defer to my co-teacher; she confiscated the lighter, and starkly reminded the student that it’s illegal to use lighters in class.
          2. On the school’s welcome wall, a student wedged in a poster which translated, ” Drugs help you see the world through different eyes.” After some time, one of the administrators noticed, and brought the poster into the teacher’s lounge during lunch. We all had a good laugh. No one made further investigation as to the origin of the poster.
        3. Two male second graders asked me to compare the pictures of robots they had drawn. After they begged me to decide which one was better, I chose the student whose robot had spikes on it. The other defeatedly looked at the ground and yelled, “FUCK man!”
      4. There is one particular pair of students in 10th grade that are currently an item. They spend the majority of the school day kissing and borderline groping each other. This has been distracting for TWO MONTHS STRAIGHT!
         5. Students consistently call darker students and teachers “niggers.” This does not seem to be taken offensively, and most seem to take it as a simple statement of fact (“I agree, the history teacher is quite nigger.”)
         6.  I asked seniors to describe their dream homes in English. Multiple students wrote that they wanted their dream home to have marijuana plants., and/ or magic mushrooms. I showed my co-teacher, and we both had a good laugh before correcting their spellings of marijuana and mushroom.
       7.  During lunch one day the topics of conversation in the teacher’s lounge went from the upcoming school holiday, to popular television shows, to political news, and then finally capping off with a discussion about how to find the G- spot. Couldn’t tell ya how it got there folks, but rest assured it did.
___________________________________________________________________________________

                Whelp, there’s volume 1! Stay tuned for volume 2, and of course, the next blog post! Thanks for reading!