Today, I watched my second grade teacher kick a stray soccer ball back to a student, trade “World Cup” cards with another and call out bus riders for dismissal – all at the same time! I’m hoping that by the end of the next for weeks, I will radiate the spirit of an Ecuadorian teacher, too! For now, I’m working on a learning curve.
Mackenzie, Rachel and I arrived in Ecuador around 7pm last night. When we got off the plane, our “Mami” had a sign, hugs and kisses for us. Our host mom’s name is Raquel; she says she only speaks a little English but she seems very fluent to us! Unfortunately we aren’t as well spoken in Spanish. I made the mistake of saying I took a little Spanish in high school and now Raquel wants me to at least try to say everything in Spanish! I am determined to become more fluent so I can impress her! When we got to our house, Raquel gave us the tour and then made chicken empanadas for a late night snack. You guys know
I love snacks! Our house is absolutely beautiful. I am sharing a room with Mackenzie that overlooks what appears to be a cow farm. The rooster at 5am was an authentic touch!
Our school is only 2 blocks from where we are living (which is actually right outside Quito and called Cumbaya, pronounced like the song you sing around the campfire) so Raquel walked us there and back today. I can’t even describe how gorgeous our school is. You know the 80s movies with well dressed students lounging in courtyards and picnic areas that seem so unrealistic? ITS HAPPENING HERE. I got to teach science for an hour in one of the outdoor areas our school is built around.
The school is also ENORMOUS! I got lost twice today looking for the front office, which my teacher said happens everyone’s first week or so! Our school has students K-12 and they are very, very wealthy. Their parents are prominent in the business and entertainment world. One of my student’s mothers is actually Mrs. Ecuador and a local TV persona. Because of the wealth of the families, the school is very heavily guarded. Students have an ID card with pictures of people allowed to pick them up (parents, nannys and employed drivers.) They have to show this card to the guard outside the front desk before they can enter or leave. Students and teachers are bused directly to the school from their house and back at the end of the day.
Another huge difference is the school day itself. We start our school day at 8am but at 10am the students have a break for a snack and playtime outside (10 more points to Ecuador). When they return at the bell they have class until 11:40, at lunch time. The students actually have an hour to eat lunch and play outside in one of the many playgrounds and courtyards. After their one hour break, the students return for another 45 minutes of learning before a two hour Spanish class in the afternoon. Teachers use this time for additional planning and meetings. My teacher says she rarely takes work home! That’s crazy to me!
Overall, I am LOVING Ecuador. My second graders are so loving (I got more hugs than I count today.) My host mother is the sweetest. She cooked a huge meal to welcome us again tonight and was so excited to hear about our days. Right now we are trying to plan our trip to the Banos this weekend! Because it is Holy Week we found out our school week is actually cut short! Tomorrow is a half day and we have Friday off. I could get used to this!