The exchange was about to begin. My host and I had shared and compared a lot when she was with me, but there is no better way to understand her reality then to accompany her throughout her day.
One big difference between the two of us is our schedules. To earn a good salary, she has to work in two different schools. This is how it works. In Uruguay, the schedule is divided into turnos - matutino, vespertino, and nocturno. In February, my host had to choose what school she wanted to work at and what classes she wanted to teach. All teachers are ranked based on their seniority and what score they received on an evaluation they are given by an national inspector. My host had a very high ranking so she had a better chance of securing the school and classes she wanted since she is at the top of the list for her age group. However, one issue here is that even teachers with low ranking still will get spots at schools because they are so desperate for English teachers. The only condition is that they will not be working at the schools of their choice or the classes they want.
My host has eight classes at one school and two at the private. Some days, she has to shuffle back and forth between schools. On Monday, she starts working at 8:30 am and doesn't finish until the afternoon. Then, since it's Monday, she needs to stay for a staff meeting which lasts until 8:00. We calculated how much actual hours she works with students versus how much I do. I barely make 4 hours in one day because the rest of the time is for planning, duties, or lunch. I will NEVER complain about my schedule again! I think my tolerance for complaining which is already pretty low will be even lower after this experience. These teachers here work, work, and work. It was very humbling to say the least.
We started our day at the private school which was a bilingual school. The level of the students English was very high. The cost of the tuition was about $500 per year. The level of the students is quite good, and students at level 1, 2, and 3 had no problem talking to me in English.
|The students made me this poster|
Here is a picture of me talking to the girls of segundo ano.
It was lots of fun. Luckily, my host just received her license and got a car because we were able to drive between schools instead of taking buses like many of the other Americans. Very fortunate.
Liceo de Shangrila - My host school
I was greeted with open arms from my host school since my host has been there longer than she has been at the private school for only a year. They knew all about the scholarship and of my host's experience with me in my school. Here are some pictures from the welcome parties the students threw for me. It was so sweet. One student made this beautiful binder in Spanish all about her country. It truly brought me to tears. Another class made me a coffee mug with their picture. Another student had her mother make a cake for me. I felt so special even though I hadn't even done anything.
Presentation of gifts to the school
We were given money to be able to buy supplies in the United States for our host schools. I got a wish list from my host, and I had a great time going to buy the stuff. I bought flashcards, educational materials, a picture dictionary, games in English, maps, and U.S. culture trivia. It felt great to bring all the stuff down for them. I wish I could have brought more down. I will promise to keep sending them stuff for them to use in their classes.
|It was like Christmas!|