A poor gringa doesn't stand a chance in learning this language. It's crazy! I think I'm improving and doing better, and then I hit a wall. And it's not just any wall. It's a brick wall reinforced with steel bars and surrounded with asbestos-laced concrete. Once I get over the wall (or around or under or through...I'm not quite sure what happens), my Spanish settles down at a higher level and I start the process all over again.
Why do I say this semi-overdramatized analogy? Well, it's because I learned something new today, and it makes absolutely no sense. In fact, it means exactly the opposite of what it sounds like. Let me explain. Melissa and I were walking down the street and these two men were carrying a large table across the sidewalk. We slowed down when we saw them coming so they could pass, since they were carrying something large and heavy. However, being the gentlemen they were, they said "Pase no mas," and we continued on as they waited for us. Now, if I were to translate literally what they said (which is what I do with my limited vocabulary and understanding of idioms), it means "pass no more." How would you interpret that?
Well, apparently it means something to the effect of, "Just go on by/through, no rush." So, pass no more = you can pass. HOW DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE??? Do you see what I'm up against? :o)
Needless to say I spend much of my time befuddled.
In fact, tonight I said something incorrectly and they had a good laugh over it. I was trying to say "hurry up" which is spelled apurate (and pronounced ah-PUH-dah-teh). Their r's are made by a quick flick of the tongue and sound like d's. Their d's are really more like very quiet hard th's (like in "then"). In fact, they're so quiet that often they skip them altogether. So, although I had seen apurate somewhere and new it was written with an r, I had forgotten. And since I hear it a lot, and it sounds like a d, I said it with the Chilean accented "d". So it came out like ah-PUH-ah-te. They asked me to repeat it, giggled, and then corrected me. Sigh. One thing's for sure: I won't make that mistake again! That's what happens when I make an idiot out of myself with some word or phrase--I always remember the right way after that!
In other news...It's been an interesting week. Monday was a holiday, Columbus Day, so we had off school. I had a jam packed weekend. I watched a soccer game with a bunch of Chileans (Chile lost, it was sad and entertaining at the same time), then went out bowling with some Americans and some Chileans. Two of the three Chileans had never bowled before and I tied with one of them!! She did really well and I was pretty rusty. Then on Sunday after church I met some new people who I got in contact with through my coworker. They're looking for more people to hang out with, and they speak English, so that's a plus! They're here through Campus Crusade, and they're really nice and seem to like to do things. They invited me on their missions trip in January to the Chilean Indians, the Mapuche, farther south in Chile. So I'm hoping to go! After that they might travel around the southern part of the continent, which I would hope to do with them. We'll see what happens! On Monday we went to a lake about an hour outside of town to go sailing. I had never been sailing before so I was very excited about it. It was a PERFECT day! It was sunny and warm, but not hot, with a nice breeze so we didn't have to paddle the boat around. :o) The lake is surrounded by mountains and was just gorgeous. There's a nice picnic area by the lake with grills, picnic tables, trees for shade, and large grassy areas for games. It was so fun!! It was very relaxing and tiring at the same time! We got home around 10 and it took me most of the week to recover! :o)
Here's a link to some of the pictures from that day (it may not work as a link, but if you copy and paste it into your browser's address bar, it should work). It was the Rogers family, me, and Mike, a newcomer to Chile who's working as the ABWE treasurer for Chile.
The week in school was a good one. I'm starting to learn how to deal with the rowdiness of the kids. I've been far too lenient, and I'm finding ways to fix that problem. I still have a ways to go, but at least it's a start. Yesterday was probably the best example of it. When giving a test to one class who can't keep their mouths shut before, during, or after a test, I gave a speech about respecting their classmates while waving a demerit pad around. They took me seriously and I didn't hear a peep!
Then later, I had a little heart-to-heart with them about something that had been bothering me. It was brought on the day before by a girl complaining about the school, and what she was saying was a serious offense (and really off the wall). When I asked her why she felt that way, she really couldn't come up with much of an answer. So basically she was complaining to people who couldn't do anything about a problem that she is interpreting that doesn't even exist!! So I read a verse in Gal 5 (I think around verse 19 or so) about not tearing each other down, encouraged them to learn to see the good in things, and gave examples from my life. I assured them I wasn't talking about ignoring problems or faults, but that there are times where we are stuck in places we don't like, or with people we don't like, or doing things we don't like, and we need to learn to find the good in it or we'll be miserable. And we'll make the people around us either miserable also or annoyed at our complaining. And I said that if they saw a genuine weakness (because nothing's perfect), to do something constructive about it instead of just complaining to people who have no power to change it. Then, to reinforce this idea in their heads I had them all write 10 positive things about SCA. It was a stretch for some of them! But they seemed to take it well, and the next day I asked Melissa how people reacted. She said everyone was fine, and if anyone complained throughout the day, someone would say, "Hey, remember what Miss Kelly said this morning?" I'm not sure how long it'll stick, but at least they were listening. I don't think they're used to seeing me so serious so they really paid attention.
A few other things I did yesterday to try and control the hoodlums was hand out homework demerits ("Yes, you DO have to do your homework. It's actually not just a suggestion!") and hand out a little extra assignment. This was my favorite. I was actually cracking up to myself because it was so great. You see, I have the 11/12th grade class for 2 periods in a row for some days, and they seem to feel that when the bell rings between classes, they get a nice long break. So they saunter in after the second bell has rung and take their time getting back to their desks. I've talked to them about this before and even threatened demerits (although I really don't have the heart to do that sometimes). Well, yesterday only 4 of my 15 students were in the classroom when the bell rung. That is a TERRIBLE percentage! The idea of writing 11 demerits seemed very cumbersome to me, so I opted for another method. I said that all 11 of them would, on Monday, turn in a 150 word "essay" on why punctuality is important. Haha. Oh, I could barely contain my glee. It's really not much of an essay, 2 paragraphs, but I had them for study hall later in the day when many of them were working on it. And to hear their comments and frustrations made me laugh so hard I couldn't hide it from them.
So I guess I have a bit of a mean streak to be laughing at their hardship. :o)
It will be interesting to see what this next week brings. I think I'm going to inconspicuously become more strict. They'll never know what hit them! :o)
Ok, it's getting late and I should get ready for bed. Sleep is goooooood! :o)