caminemos juntos

Soy una persona que puede escuchar la misma canción cuatro mil veces antes que me cansa de escucharla. Bueno, puede ser que soy un poca exagerada pero la música tiene mucho poder y cuando escucho una canción aveces se toca algo en mi alma y aunque no entiendo todas las palabras (porque mas que nada las canciones que me fascinan son en español) no puedo dejar de escucharla… hasta que encuentro otro.

La semana pasada fui a un show de música en el barrio de Palermo donde estoy quedándome en Buenos Aires. Me enteré de este show por Instagram (se llama Open Folk) y decidí a ir porque me parecía que iba a estar bueno. Cuando yo llegue casi no entré porque desde afuera el lugar no parece mucho y como soy sola acá estuve un poca tímida porque no supe bien que iba a encontrar adentro. Pero, en fin, entré y estoy tan feliz que tomé esa decision porque fue la mejor noche de música. Es un lugar muy pequeño y intimo, mucho mejor (en mi opinion) que los lugares muy grandes con miles de gente. Pero también el espacio estuvo lleno, y por razón.

El idea atras de Open Folk es que los músicos y los cantantes pueden inscribirse a participar en la noche de música y cada músico hace tres canciones. Entonces, durante la noche escuchas muchos músicos/cantantes diferentes en el estilo de folk.

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Algunos de los músicos. 

Me encantó la noche de música, y una canción en particular me dejo enamorada… una voz increíble… una canción hermosisima…y por eso es mi nueva canción del momento y no puedo dejar de escucharla. Podes encontrar la canción en Spotify si te buscas David Amado, y la canción se llama, Subte. También acá es un video de youtube…

La canción no es sola una canción linda para escuchar. Pero también, me encanta el nombre … Subte… porque estoy tomando el Subte mucho acá en Buenos Aires, algo nuevo para mi… no tenemos nada como los Subtes de Buenos Aires in Victoria. Así que, por mi, es una canción muy apta por este momento.

Algo en la canción también me hace pensar, algo en relación del idioma. Cuando escuchas la canción vas a escucharle cantar “caminemos juntos por la anden vacío” … el verbo ‘caminar’ es regular entonces yo siempre pensé que es “caminamos” y por eso estaba pensando en esa pequeña diferencia. También me impresione la diferencia en el sonido… me encanta como suena la palabra caminemos… tiene algo… aunque no creo que tenía una palabra favorita antes, ahora si, tengo.

Bueno, cuando fuí a mi clase de español (porque tomé clases la semana pasada para revisar y practicar algunas cosas) pregunté a la maestra sobre esa palabra. Ella me explicó cuando cambias el ‘a’ por un ‘e’ en caminamos cambias la intención. Cuando decís caminamos es una afirmación pero cuando decís caminemos es una invitación.

Eso me encanta. Me encanta como podes cambiar la intención solo con una letra. Y me encanta como suena… caminemos juntos… que linda invitación.

Martes es la noche de Open Folk así que hoy voy otra ves a ese lugar mágico… si estás en Buenos Aires algún martes por favor andá… no te vas arrepentir.


 In other words… 

I am the kind of person who can listen to a song hundreds of time before getting tired of it. Not just any song, but when I hear a song that for whatever reasons resonates with me, I find myself pressing repeat over and over… until a new song comes my way.

Last week I went to an evening of music here in Palermo (the neighbourhood where I am staying in Buenos Aires) called Open Folk. I found out about it through Instagram which seems to be where everyone is advertising these days I am finding! When I arrived at the address I thought at first I had made a mistake. I was expecting maybe a bar or restaurant type place but instead I had arrived at what looked much more like someone’s front door… plus it was closed and no one was around. I almost gave up and went home but then saw a few other people waiting around and figured that maybe I was just a bit early… which I was… I am still not very good at this whole Argentina version of timing. Anyway, I walked around the block a few times and then when the door was opened I went in with a few other people who had been waiting. And I must say, I am so glad I did because it was probably one of the best nights of music I have ever experienced. It is a small, intimate space, but it was full… and for good reason.

The idea behind Open Folk is that musicians sign up to participate and then each one sings/plays three songs. So, throughout the evening you end up listening to many different artists all in the style of folk music. It was interesting as some sang in English (covers or original songs) and some sang in Spanish. It is hard to describe the evening… you really just have to go.

Anyway, there was one song that really left me mesmerized, and has since become my new song of the moment. You can find the song on Spotify (Subte by David Amado) and I have also put a video of the song above.

Not only do I love the song but I love the name… Subte (aka, subway). I have been taking the subte a lot here in Buenos Aires… an interesting experience for me as we have nothing like the Buenos Aires subtes back in Victoria that’s for sure… even the Vancouver Skytrains don’t compare. Anyway, for that reason it just feels even more fitting a song for this time.

The song also left me wondering about something in relation to the language. It is funny because it is such a small little thing but it left me curious. It is hard to explain in English but you see in the song it says “caminemos juntos por la anden vacío” which basically means walk together down the empty path (or actually, subway track). Usually, however, if you were to say ‘walk together’ you would write ‘caminamos (with the ‘a’ not an ‘e’) juntos.’ So this left me wondering… but also left me with a new favourite word (not that I even had a favourite word before I don’t think) but I just love the way it sounds… caminemos.

So, when I went to my Spanish class the following day (I was taking some classes last week to help review and practise) I asked the teacher about the caminamos vs. caminemos difference. She explained that when you say caminamos it is more of an affirmation whereas caminemos transforms the word into an invitation.

I love that. I love that by changing one letter in the middle of a word you can change its intention. And I just love how it sounds… caminemos juntos… what a nice invitation.

Tuesday is Open Folk night and I am so  looking forward to going back tonight… there is just something about it that is so magical. If you are ever in Buenos Aires on a Tuesday I encourage you to check it out too… you will not regret it.

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empezando de nuevo.

Bueno, llegó el momento para empezar este blog de nuevo. Estaba pensando en mi blog hace unas semanas ya… pensando en si voy a empezar a escribir otra vez durante este viaje a Argentina. Al principio no sabía si íba a tener las ganas o las palabras pero hoy fuí a ver una película al cine y en mi camino de vuelta al departamento empecé a pensar en el blog con ganas de escribir. No se porque fue ese momento… pero así fue, y acá estoy, escribiendo de nuevo.

Por supuesto te vas a notar que hay una diferencia y esta diferencia ocurrió en mis pensamientos cuando estaba caminando recién pensando en el blog. Quiero tratar de escribirlo en castellano. Porque para mi es una cosa muy importante, quiero hablar mejor y estoy practicando pero me parece que escribiendo en castellano va a ayudarme también. En general es mas fácil escribir en castellano (por lo menos para mi) porque cuando escribas podes tomar todo el tiempo que necesitas en vez de cuando hablas tenes que tener las palabras a mano (mas en Argentina donde hablan muy rápido) pero aunque es muy diferente es una forma de practicar y expresarme en este idioma.

En realidad, me parece que el idea de tratar de escribir en castellano vino porque fui a ver una película Argentina (en castellano, por supuesto) y entendí casi todas las palabras hasta los chistes (y los chistes, aveces, no son fácil de entender). Ese fue, por mi, una gran cosa y me puse feliz.

Entonces, espero que podes tener paciencia conmigo y con mis palabras llena de errores y espero que vas a poder entender lo que quiero compartir sobre mis días acá en Argentina.


And now… in English.

I won’t translate word for word because there is a difference between writing in Spanish and writing in English and one cannot simply directly translate one to the other… so, in other words…

This blog was an important part of my time here in Argentina in 2016 and as I prepared to come here again this year I spent much time thinking about whether or not I was going to write again. I also had many people asking me and my answer was ‘I don’t know…’ because really, I didn’t. I was not sure if I would have the same desire to write as I did before or if the words would come as easily. Tonight though, as I was walking back to the AirBnB I am staying at in Buenos Aires I started to think about the blog again and felt that desire to write… but with a difference. I thought about how I truly want to practise my Spanish and how it is something of great importance to me. And I think the fact that I had just been to see an Argentinean movie and understood it all (even down to the jokes!) played a part as well. I felt proud that I had been able to understand the movie so well, and while understanding is so much easier than speaking, it is still something. Writing is also easier than speaking, at least for me. Because when you write you can take all the time you need to think things through but when you speak it is that much harder because the words aren’t always right there where you need them in the moment you want them… this is especially challenging here in Argentina where everyone seems to speak so loudly and quickly. In any case, I figure that writing in Spanish is something that will help me as it will encourage me to think in Spanish… and hopefully with that will come a better ability to keep up in conversations as opposed to getting lost trying to conjugate verbs. Of course, my writing is far from perfect and there will be many mistakes but hopefully those reading the Spanish version will understand, mas o menos.

And while I hope to follow through with writing this time I make no promises, I do not want to force myself to write, but if/when the desire strikes, I will carry on.

 

 

Four Questions.

Today I spent the afternoon away from school at a meeting with other district colleagues. It was a meeting of the Professional Growth Council, a group which consists of representatives from the different schools in the district. These meetings are used to discuss different initiatives, to plan, and to have discussion opportunities across the different levels and schools. Today’s meeting was quite different than any other Pro Growth meeting I have attended and I feel very fortunate to have been able to be there and to have been a witness to the sharing that took place.

As our assistant superintendent introduced the premise of the meeting he told all of us gathered that the day’s meeting would be different from what we may have come expecting based on previous meetings. He told us that for the next couple of hours we should attempt to quiet the to-do lists in our minds, to set technology aside, and to simply be present. He introduced three individuals who would be leading us through the first part of the meeting… a principal from a school in the district and two teachers, who also happen to be two of my very good friends (the same two friends, in fact, who encouraged me to start this blog way back when as I prepared for my 10 months in Salta).

These three educators attended a conference in the Fall entitled Indspire, a national gathering for Indigenous Education with a focus on reconciliation and moving forward together. While at a day led by Niigaan Sinclair they were inspired by a process that was shared. A process that is deeply personal, courageous, and one that is instrumental to the work of reconciliation. The process consisted of the asking of four questions. Questions that on one hand may seem pretty basic, but, on the other, so incredibly deep. One is meant to take these questions and reflect on them as an individual and then to share his or her own answers.

Today, these three educators did just that. They sat at the front of the room and answered the four questions in a deeply personal and authentic way. And I did what was asked of me, I sat and listened. I sat with the others gathered and bared witness to these courageous and inspiring individuals who were sharing their stories with respect to their own journey of reconciliation.

I left this meeting feeling inspired, wishing that all educators (and all people, for that matter), could take part in such a process. To bare witness to the vulnerability these individuals demonstrated and to then take the time to reflect on the four questions in order that we may, as a community and as a country, continue to move forward together in our journey towards reconciliation.

In my own effort to spend time reflecting on these questions I will, over the next few weeks, attempt to do my best to answer the four questions here. While sharing in writing is not the same as the sharing the individuals did today it will be a way for me to reflect in my own way, something I feel inspired to do after listening to my colleagues today. I encourage you to also consider these questions for yourself.

Who am I? – Why am I here? – Who can help me? – Where am I going? 

Dr. Niigaan Sinclair said, “We don’t need more eggshell walking. We need bravery to do this work.” Thank you to the bravery of the presenters today, may this bravery spread to all you have touched with your words so that we may do the work necessary to make true reconciliation a reality in our schools, communities, and in our country.

 

Birthday Books.

I got books from a few people for my birthday this past week. Each one different and yet oddly, not totally unrelated. I haven’t had the chance to really start reading them yet though and honestly, I do not know if I will be able to in the next two crazy weeks (parent/teacher meetings, report cards, inquiry museum at school, the list goes on…) but if I make it through this insanity then I will have made it to spring break. Two glorious weeks of relative freedom and hopefully plenty of time to read.

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You might be wondering how I could find a common thread connecting all four of these books. You are probably especially skeptical abut how the brunch book connects but trust me, it does… at least for me.

After a trip to Bolen Books today my Spring Break reading list grew and now, not only do I have my birthday books to read, but all of these others I saw that caught my attention too…

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I now have holds on all these books at the library… hoping at least some will be ready for me by spring break.

I do not fail to see the irony (and hypocrisy perhaps) in the fact that I am a teacher-librarian who doesn’t actually read all that often… at least not lately. I have been finding it difficult to find the time to devote to it, there always seems to be something else that take precedent. And, in all honesty, I am often just too tired at the end of the day and find myself watching some mindless Netflix show instead. I do hope to make time for it in spring break though. Time to allow myself the chance to become lost in the pages of a story.

What are you reading lately? Have your read any of the books pictured above? If so, what did you think? I’ll try and share my own thoughts here once I get reading… if only spring break was already here.

One other book-related gift I have to share… is this not one of the the most wonderful mugs you’ve ever seen?! Check out more here… @idealbookshelf

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Same Blog – New Name

I last wrote in this space from the airport in Buenos Aires in December 2016. I was on my way home from my 10 months of living in Salta and I was reflecting on my experience, one that was more challenging than I had expected, but also so important. An experience I would not change. One of the things that will forever be associated with that time in Salta is this blog itself. Writing here was a release. A place of reflection and connection. I enjoyed the act of writing and being able to share some of the joys and challenges I was experiencing.

When I got home though, the writing stopped. I didn’t know what I could possibly have to share now that I was back to the routine of life at home. And so I slipped back into the same space I had left behind and life continued on.

And now, almost 15 months have gone by, and as I read over my last blog post I realize that I have not totally been living by the intentions I set forth at that time. Specifically the intention to live the questions…

Questions can be good. Questions can help propel us to learn new things as we search to find answers to our wonderings. Questions can also be overwhelming. When we dwell on questions, especially those related to the future, we can become stuck because in many cases the questions are impossible to answer especially when we look to others to try and answer them for us. I read something recently by poet Ranier Maria Rilke on this subject that really resonated with me.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/06/01/rilke-on-questions/

I found that his writing challenged me to view my questions in a new way. He writes about the importance of not letting our need for answers prevent us from living. He encourages one to instead live the questions and when we live the questions we will find that the answers will reveal themselves as they should and when they should just through this act of living. If, instead, we focus all our attention on finding the answers themselves we will miss out on the living that could have happened along the way and I am beginning to understand that without living our search for answers will be forever fruitless. While I think I have a ways to go before I will really be able to live and love the questions it is, I believe, a practice worth pursuing.

So, that brings me to where I am today. Over the last couple of weeks I have begun making some plans. Plans that have given me direction, something to work towards. Plans that are full of uncertainty and questions, but questions that I am determined to live. Because I do not want to miss the living that could happen by always just doing the ‘smart’ or responsible thing. I want to take advantage of the time I have now to live the questions – because I can.

I sometimes feel older than I am. I have, it seems, always been surrounded by people older than myself. People who are settled in their lives and families. People I admire and look up to. I do think, however, that I have let this mess with my head a bit in that it sometimes leaves me feeling like I too should be where they are in life.

But it is ok that I am not settled yet (at least that is what I keep trying to tell myself). I should be taking advantage of this time as opposed to wasting it wishing I was somewhere else. If I just spend this time wishing instead of living then I will probably find myself forever stuck in that state.

So, instead of wishing I was already somewhere else in my life I need to try to embrace where I am at and live this time fully. Because that is probably the only way to move on anyway, you can’t just jump from one thing to another, you cannot force it. You have to live through it.

Only through living can we get from one place to another.

So, here I am, finding myself drawn back to this space… same blog, new name. A name inspired by a reflection during my time in Salta. Living without recipes was the only option during my 10 months in Salta but how easily those recipes can slip their way back in when you return to the regular routine.

So with my return to this space I bring with me two intentions:

 the intention to live the questions & the intention to live without a recipe.

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Snow in Victoria on the 22nd of February… Victoria weather, a prime example of what it means to operate without a recipe.

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Learning to Live (and Love) the Questions

Well, here I am in Buenos Aires. I am 10 hours into my trip and have many many hours to go… my flight that was supposed to leave here at 5:30pm has been delayed until 8:00pm and so it has been a long wait here at Ezezia so far. With the delay I will miss my connection in Toronto making the 36 hour trip even longer… But in any case I am on my way. Me and my 3 slightly overweight pieces of luggage… (I blame it on the dulce de leche!)

Going home. Wow. 10 months ago I was just beginning this adventure. I was leaving the comfortable little corner of the world that I have called home since I was born and embarking on something new. I was excited. I was nervous. I was filled with questions about what these 10 months would bring.

I was thinking today about a moment at Brentwood that happened back in January. Something that I wrote about here in my first post. I had been talking to a Grade 2 class about what I was going to be doing and one little boy raised his hand to ask a question. This little boy is one who is near and dear to my heart. He was in my kindergarten class a couple years before and he has taught me so much. Anyways, he raised his hand and he asked me “are you scared?” And I told him that yes, I was scared. I was scared to be leaving my home, my family, my friends, and all that is familiar to me. I also told him that I think it is ok to feel a little bit scared when we are about to do something new and that we cannot let that fear serve as a road block. We must let it serve, instead, as a guiding post. Because if we wait for the fear to go away then we will never try anything new.

When I was preparing to come to Salta I was filled with questions about how the experience would unfold. It was a challenge for me to handle all those unknowns as I am the kind of person who likes to know. I like to have answers. I like to know what to expect. And because I didn’t have the answers I developed certain ideas in my mind about how my time here might be to try and fill the need of knowing. It is natural, I think, to build up certain expectations when we are anticipating something new in our lives. We use our imaginations to paint a picture of what the experience will be like in order to fill in the unknowns. My experience did not totally match that picture I drew in my mind. My experience was, for the most part, much different. But my experience here has been so important and one that I would not change. I have met some amazing people, I have had the opportunity to love so many little ones, and I have faced challenges that have helped me grow. My experience did not match that original picture in my mind but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good experience. On the contrary, I think it was exactly what it needed to be.

Just as I was filled with questions when I was preparing to come here I find myself now, on my way home, filled with questions once again. Because while yes, I am going home to a comfortable and familiar environment there is a lot I wonder about. I wonder when I will find an apartment, I wonder what it will be like teaching Grade One for the first time, I wonder what it will be like to go back to Brentwood after being away, I wonder if it will feel as if I never left… and these are just a few of the many questions that I find whirling around in my thoughts on a regular basis.

Questions can be good. Questions can help propel us to learn new things as we search to find answers to our wonderings. Questions can also be overwhelming. When we dwell on questions, especially those related to the future, we can become stuck because in many cases the questions are impossible to answer especially when we look to others to try and answer them for us. I read something recently by poet Ranier Maria Rilke on this subject that really resonated with me.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/06/01/rilke-on-questions/

I found that his writing challenged me to view my questions in a new way. He writes about the importance of not letting our need for answers prevent us from living. He encourages one to instead live the questions and when we live the questions we will find that the answers will reveal themselves as they should and when they should just through this act of living. If, instead, we focus all our attention on finding the answers themselves we will miss out on the living that could have happened along the way and I am beginning to understand that without living our search for answers will be forever fruitless. While I think I have a ways to go before I will really be able to live and love the questions it is, I believe, a practice worth pursuing.

10 months ago I was embarking on a new journey that would take me out of my comfort zone. A journey that would stretch me and challenge me in ways I never would have expected. And now, here I am, 10 months later, ready to return home again. I am bringing much home with me. I am bringing memories of all the people who I have met and who have been so kind and welcoming to me. I am bringing home a heart full of 110 little ones who I had the opportunity to get to know and work with both at the Jardincito and in the three Kinder 5 classes at Santa María. I am leaving Salta with new understandings, new perspectives, and also the determination to continue to grow and challenge myself in new ways. I am coming home with the desire to “be patient toward all that is unsolved” and to “try to learn to love the questions themselves.”

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Thank you to all those who played a part in my Salta experience. I am forever grateful to you all and I cannot wait to see you again in Salta, Canada, or somewhere in between!

Thank you also to all of you back home who have been so supportive from afar. I cannot wait to see you again (as soon as this 39 hour marathon of a trip comes to an end!)

And so it goes

* Can I just start by saying I strongly dislike packing. I don’t actually think it is humanly possible to expect the last bits and pieces that I need to fit into my suitcases to actually fit. Which probably means taking everything out and starting again in hopes that the results will be different if I can somehow manage to squeeze things in just a little bit tighter. In any case, I strongly dislike packing.

Well, now that I have got that packing rant out of the way I can begin. This week has been an extremely busy week… and it was only 3 days long. I barely slept for three nights in a row just because my mind was so full of all the different things going on (which is probably why yesterday, when I finally had some time, I couldn’t do much other than sleep). Not only was it a busy week with so many different things happening but it was also a busy week emotionally… many goodbyes to be said and with those goodbyes came lots of reflecting on my time here, time that is now very soon coming to an end.

On Tuesday morning we had the end of year Parent’s Meeting at Santa Maria. On Monday I spent a great deal of time stressing about it as I needed to prepare a little something to say about the year (in Spanish) and that sort of thing always makes me nervous. So I put it off until midnight and then figured I had better get started. I must say though, I was pleasantly surprised by how it went once I started writing (even at that late hour!) I found that the words were there (mostly) and I was able to write and express most of what I wanted to say in Spanish without relying on Google Translate or anything. Of course it was definitely not perfect but it made me feel good that I was able to do that. I guess it shows my Spanish must have improved at least somewhat over these last 10 months.

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The parents meeting went well, we were fortunate to have such a great group of parents in the class. And they surprised me with a video they had made with little messages from each of the kids. It was the sweetest thing a class has ever done for me and something I will keep forever. They also gave me a pair of pyjamas on which they had all drawn little pictures. I love them (and I love those kids!)

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My new pyjamas and all the pictures that can be found on the front and back drawn by my kiddies.

Wednesday was another big day. The morning started off with the Preschool end of year “show” and I must say it went so well. Each of the classes (1 year olds, 2 year olds, and 3 year olds) did one song/dance in English and one in Spanish and then we ended with singing a Christmas song all together. It was amazing seeing these little ones sing and dance. Even the one year olds. It makes you realize how capable children are (even such young ones) if you only give them the chance. What was most amazing though was seeing one of our little 3 year olds participate with such pride and happiness. This little boy has grown SO much over the year. When he began he barely talked and resorted to hitting his classmates on a regular basis, not out of menace but I think, for him, it was the only way he could find to communicate. He has grown so much from those early days though. He is probably the best in the class at his numbers in English and he always participates when we sing songs (sometimes sitting right in the centre of the circle as opposed to in the circle with the others but you know what, that is ok!) He has also grown in his ability to play and relate with others and this is reflected in the desire of the other kids to stand next to him in line or sit with him at snack time. When we had a presentation for parents a couple months ago it was so sad because he refused to participate (even though in class he participates so much) and we were worried that would happen again. Much to our amazement though he sang and danced with a huge smile on his face the whole time. It brought tears to my eyes. And his parents (who have been worrying about him this year) were so happy too. Having the opportunity to witness these little successes is one of the things that makes working with children so incredibly rewarding.

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Some of the teachers and kids (there are about 50 all together so this is just a small portion!)

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El Jardincito Equipo! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this team. We had lots of fun together… and mate in the mornings was a nice addition to our routine these last couple of months 🙂

I remember at the beginning of the year I was very overwhelmed with things at the Jardincito. My desire to be very organized and structured along with my very Canadian perspective on teacher/kid ratios made it all a bit much for me. There were just so many kids, and so many who were just so young. As the year went on though things came together in amazing ways. We gained a couple more teachers, and we settled into a good routine. It is crazy to see how much the children grew and changed over the course of 10 months… such as Salum, who started out not even walking and who now roams the place as if he is the king of the place. I will miss the Jardincito very much.

Wednesday continued with more goodbyes at the Kindergarten Graduation. It was a beautiful evening. The children sang a song I had taught them at the beginning of the year and was one of their favourites (Peace Like a River), they received their certificates, Virginia (the director) spoke some beautiful words and there was a slideshow. I didn’t expect to cry quite as much as I did but it began when the kids were singing and then just didn’t stop throughout the whole slideshow. The tears came from a mix of things. Partly from the thought of saying goodbye to my beautiful students. And partly just from thinking about this whole experience here. Reflecting on the challenges but also on all that I have learned and all the memories I have made. Then it came time to say goodbye to each child and family. The tears were still falling at this point but it was nice to say goodbye to everyone and give my little ones one last hug. I remember before I came here I couldn’t imagine leaving the Brentwood kids and now that I am leaving here it is these kids I cannot imagine leaving. I guess it goes to show that no matter where you are the kids we work with will always leave an imprint on our hearts.

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Each class had their own t-shirts that they wore with pictures they had drawn.

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(most of) The Wonderful Kindergarten/Nivel Inicial Team at Santa Maria. Another group I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to work with and get to know this year. They are amazing educators and people.

After the emotional evening (on my part at least!) we got together at one of the teacher’s houses for dinner and then went for ice cream in the rain.

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Well, and so it goes… 10  months is coming to a close. I have 3 days left here in Salta and I have lots to do in those 3 days… mostly related to the seemingly impossible task of packing. I know, that it will get done though, it always does. I just hope it doesn’t overwhelm me too much in the  process. I am going to spend the last couple of nights with Jose and her family which will be nice so that means I have one more day to get my bags organized! Wish me luck 🙂

Can’t wait to see all of you back home again so soon (and save some snow for me please!)

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December is Here

Today was my last afternoon with my class at Santa Maria. It does not actually feel real though. I keep thinking that I should be going back again tomorrow and next week and so on and so forth. Maybe it is because I know I will still see them next week on Tuesday morning at the end of year parents’ meeting and then on Wednesday at the Kinder Graduation. Probably after that the reality will actually settle in. I also still have preschool until Wednesday so I think that is contributing to the fact that this doesn’t feel real yet, it doesn’t feel ‘over.’

Today, on our last day, we made wishes for Christmas. Of course the first wishes were all about the toys (they are kindergarteners after all) but then we moved the conversation away from material things and thought about wishes for our lives, our families, and the world.

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Some of the other wishes included: to make new friends, to give lots of hugs, to send kisses to God, to be a good friend, and for our families to be well.

Today as we had our last lunch together in the cafeteria I was thinking back to those first few lunch times back in March. Today the pop music was blaring, coke was being served (to celebrate the last day), and energy was high. I remember the first time I experienced this and how it was quite foreign (and overwhelming!) to me and yet today it felt normal. I know I will miss the music. I will miss all the kids joining in to sing along. I will miss the energy. Yes, it can be crazy at times. Yes it is (very) loud. But, the kids are happy. Lunchtime is going to seem quiet once I go back to having lunch in the staff room at Brentwood again in January.

I am also going to miss the love of the children here. It is seldom that I walk anywhere without at least 3 children holding my hands/fingers (today I think I had 5 attached to me somehow on the walk to the cafeteria). Yes, sometimes I long to have my hands free but then I remember the fact that these children really are so young still. They just want to feel loved and as a teacher that is my job, a part of my job that I believe is so crucial. I love my little students and for me it is of utmost importance that they know that. If not, no real learning can take place.

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Relax Time. It turns out a teacher can make a pretty good pillow during Friday Movies.

So, classes with my little ones are officially over. Even though I don’t quite believe it yet. Because really, how has a whole school year actually gone by? Yes, I will admit that sometimes it did feel like it was moving slowly but this last bit pasó volando. And considering that in fact a whole school year has gone by I keep thinking I should now be heading into summer break… but instead, once I am home, I will just have a short 2.5 weeks off before heading back to Brentwood again. I wonder what it will be like to be back again, will it feel like I never left? Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to be heading back to the Brentwood community again, it is one that I love very much. I just wonder if it will seem at all different now that I have had this experience here? I suppose only time will tell.

img_7053Well, in addition to school, I have had some really nice days with friends here in the last little while. I enjoyed some pool time last weekend with Jose’s family. Including some good chats with Panchito (Jose’s son and one of my little students). I think at the moment this photo was taken we were discussing the difference between the words “bird” and “bear” two English words which are confusingly similar! He is always so eager to learn and we have had lots of great chats about English words, letter sounds, etc 😊

Last weekend I also spent a day with Virginia (the kindergarten director) and her family at her family’s farm – a beautiful place.

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It was quite a cloudy Spring day but during a pause from the rain we did some plum and peach picking. So delicious.

Ok, well, somehow it is 10:30 already and I am exhausted! Tomorrow I have preschool in the morning and we are busy preparing for next week’s little end of year “show” (which is guaranteed to be very cute… I mean how could it not be when it involves 1, 2, and 3 year olds singing little songs and dancing too!) Preschool has been extra exciting lately with the addition of a new pet turtle. And today I was surprised to see that a second turtle had joined the preschool gang… life is never dull at the Jardincito!

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Sometimes the turtle can be found inside, sometimes outside. Today, with the appearance of turtle #2 we had one out and one in. I am unsure as to if they were separated on purpose… 🙂

Well, I can’t believe I will be on my way in just 11 days, it really doesn’t seem possible. But I think the timing is just right as my last jar of peanut  butter is ALMOST empty after all 🙂

Goodnight and Happy December 1st to you all!

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Well, it has been a couple weeks since I have written and honestly life has been so busy I just haven’t really had many spare moments. It is funny because it feels SO much like June in my mind as we are winding down the school year and in the throws of all the crazy end of year busyness and yet it is November, almost December… almost Christmas!

On Friday we had our big Kinder 5 End of Year production of Giraffes Can’t Dance. While it was a lot of work and I spent much time stressing over my meerkats (I kept envisioning on stage collisions/meerkats flying off the stage) it all came together so well. The children had been counting down the days to the show for weeks beforehand and the excitement level was high the night of the show! What was most amazing was seeing our little 5 and 6 year olds perform in English with such big smiles on their faces. You could tell how proud of themselves they were (and I was sure proud of them too!)  While there were times when I felt like the rehearsing etc. was too much, especially at the end of the year when everyone is tired, it was, I now believe, all worth it. It will undoubtedly be a memory that the children will fondly remember and a great way to put their English learning in a different context.

The students were not only the stars of the show but they also contributed to the backdrop decorating. It was a pretty fun (and messy!) afternoon when we had all 60 kids painting with their hands and sponges to create our jungle scene. I think we ended up with just as much paint on all of us as there was on the paper, but of course, the kids thought it was the best thing ever. And wow, it sure did make the most amazing of backdrops!

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Backdrop painting in progress…

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The result! Some people said it reminded them of a piece of Monet artwork and I must say they are on to something… it has quite the impressionist look!

Some more of the decorations to help set the scene for the African jungle party!

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I wish I could show you a picture of the children and their AMAZING costumes but I don’t feel right posting the children’s pictures here so instead you’ll have to make due with a picture of us teachers 😊

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Virginia (Kindergarten Director), Rochi (the teacher I have been replacing this year while she has been on maternity leave but she has been back working on other things for the last two months – she was the brains behind many of the wonderful decoration ideas!), me (obviously), and Sole and Lili (the two other English Kinder 5 teachers)

After the show we went out to celebrate with some picadas. It was a fun end to a busy day/week/month!

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Well, that is about all for tonight I think. Hard to believe that tomorrow is the 21st of November. We only have 8 more days of English classes… how did that happen?! Also hard to believe that in 3 weeks tomorrow I will be on my way home. Have 10 months really gone by? The first part of my time here in Salta went by more slowly but these last weeks are flying by at lighting speed. I am so excited to be going home to my family and friends (and a limitless supply of peanut butter at the grocery store 😊) and it almost feels unbelievable when I think about how close it is now. I am also, of course, going to miss my little students and the wonderful friends I have made here. One such friend posted this today and I think it is so true. My time here in Salta has been filled with many different experiences and when I look back on my time here it won’t be the geographical place itself that will be most important. It will be the wonderful people met, the challenges faced, the memories made, and the things I have learned that will remain with me forever.

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“When you miss a place, what you are really missing is the time in your life that corresponds with that place; we don’t miss the sites, but the times.”

Walking with the Purpose of Seeing

I went for a walk this morning with a purpose and a specific destination in mind. But as I stepped out of my apartment and began walking down the street I decided I was going to walk differently today. I decided to try walking with the purpose of seeing. So often we walk with the purpose of arriving (especially when walking is your main means of transportation as it is mine) but how often do we walk with the purpose of seeing? Yes, sometimes maybe we will go for a walk by the ocean and that is our purpose, to take in its beauty. Or walk through the woods with no other purpose but to wander. But in the day to day busyness of life we often get stuck walking with the purpose of arriving. Our eyes are focused straight ahead and we walk quickly (in my case at least) and with purpose. What happens though when we change the focus to a walk of seeing? I walked a route I’ve walked many times before, a route through city streets; some busy, some quiet. But as I walked I focused on what I was seeing. I noticed my pace slow and my gaze was no longer straight ahead but free to go where it was drawn. I noticed that I was not thinking so much about other things but instead I was noticing things I’ve walked by hundreds of times before but never really seen, at least not consciously. I also noticed my breath which was an interesting side affect. I found myself breathing a little more deeply once in awhile. It turns out I was doing such a good job of walking with the purpose of seeing that I found I had ended up on the wrong street and several blocks past my original destination. But that was ok because my purpose was to see, so really, by missing my destination at first, I was able to see more than I would have had I gone directly there as planned.

As I was walking with the purpose of seeing I began thinking about how not only do we often walk with the purpose of arriving but we live with this same purpose. We live with a need or sense of pressure to get to the next thing. Always waiting to arrive at our next destination, to fulfill our next goal, or check off the next thing on our ‘life plan.’ What would happen if, instead, we were able to live with the purpose of seeing? Letting our pace relax and our gaze be drawn by the beauty around us. What would happen if we lived with the purpose of noticing the present moment, letting our breath slow down to the pace of today instead of it always trying to catch up with tomorrow? And if we lived with the purpose of seeing we might sometimes stray from the destination we have in mind (as happened on my walk today) but this would not be a mistake because it would mean we would be seeing and experiencing things we wouldn’t have had our path been the direct one we originally had planned.

When you walk with the purpose of seeing you must get over the feeling of self consciousness that comes from walking alone with a wandering gaze. When I stopped to take pictures of the beauty I was drawn to I felt like people must be looking at me and wondering why I was stopping to snap a picture of a random sidewalk, wall, or wrought iron gate. But then I tried to keep in mind that probably most people around me were walking with the purpose of arriving and not even noticing what I was doing or what anyone around them was doing for that matter. And, even if they did, what did it matter? Walking with the purpose of seeing, and living with the purpose of seeing, means letting go of the self consciousness that may come from moving at one’s own pace – not necessarily the pace of those around you.

So, I encourage you to try this exercise. Take a route you’ve taken before but let your gaze be drawn by whatever captures its attention. Take pictures. Breathe a little more deeply. Walk with the purpose of seeing.


And here is what I saw today on my walk through the colourful streets of Salta.

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