Sunday, February 9, 2014

Learning Without Walls

Learning Without Walls

It really is amazing how advanced technology is these days. I am currently thousands of miles away, with internet on a USB drive, and I am still able to communicate with people through Skype! I was able to Skype with my kinder class from student teaching back home AND my brother's kindergarten class. With both of these classes I gave them a little tour around the school, and then we had a chance to do some question/answer time. Talk about learning without boundaries. These children are able to follow my blog, my journey, my experiences...and communicate with me! They are able to compare and contrast their school, culture, and life to people around the world. At the end of the day I had the biggest smile on my face because: A) I got to see my former students who I love and miss SO much and B) It was absolutely a beautiful experience to hear and answer the questions from very curious 5-6 year olds. Some of their questions were:

- Do they get anything for Christmas? 
- What do they have to eat for dinner?
- Why does your school have a kitchen?
- What is the weather like?
- How do you fit 24 students in that small tuk tuk?
- What is the school made out of?
- Do they have homework?

And the best thing to hear, "We love you Miss Talcott, and we miss you so much!" I miss them so much too, but I am so grateful, SO grateful that not only family and friends are following my journey, but my students are as well. 

If you don't step out of your comfort zone, the things you fear will keep growing. The more you step our of you comfort zone the more you grow as a person. 

This trip has been filled with experiences that push me out of my comfort zone every day. For those of you that know me well, you know that is one thing I need to work on the most. Pushing myself out of my comfort areas. In the past month I have learned so much about myself, and I have already grown so much as an individual. It is impossible not to under the circumstances I am living under. From the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to bed...I am speaking Spanish with Jackelyn. That alone is scary and uncomfortable for me. Each day it gets easier, and I am feeling more comfortable. But its more than that. For example, this weekend I took my first trips alone to Panajachel. I was confident that I knew the route, but scared to be alone. I proud to say I was able to make it there and back successfully without any problems. Another example, I went with Jackelyn to her house to enjoy lunch with her family. I was the only person there who spoke English, therefor all the conversing was in Spanish. I can understand Jackelyn very well, but it was much harder understanding other people in her family! And now, I am the teacher of three different classes at the school. And I have to do my best to instruct the students and manage the classroom in Spanish! I am trying my best every day to embrace these new experiences. But I have to be honest, some days it is very hard for me. I can feel myself growing, learning, and believing in myself more and more each and every day. And each day I gain more confidence. 

When I was at Jackelyn's home, I was apologizing for my poor Spanish, and her dad told me this...

"Your Spanish is beautiful. It does not sound the same as our Spanish, and you have your own American accent, but it is beautiful to hear someone try their best at another language. Especially when we do not speak English, you are at least using a language that is unknown to you and not your own. You should be proud."

After hearing this I could not help but smile. That is exactly what I tell myself every day. But thats all I can hope that the people around me think as well. I am trying my best, it is hard, and I know I do not sound the same...but I CAN communicate with people in another language. And that... is something to be proud of. 

In a place filled with so much is all around us.

When you go to the markets in Guatemala, as a tourist you are overwhelmed with the vibrant colors and hand made items. It is a sensory overload for sure! The first couple times, I honestly wanted to buy EVERYTHING! But I had to step back and ask myself, do I really need this? The paintings especially are amazing! I decided I would like a painting by the time I leave. So far I have been doing really well. Until a couple days ago in Panajachel. We were walking through the market, and we came across this beautiful bedspread. This gigantic, colorful, hand made piece of art jumped out at us all. When we actually found out the price... we were all shocked. Imagine the amount of time something like this would take. It is almost sad that these people work SO hard on something like this, and only expect so little in return. We all just stared at this piece for quite awhile, brainstorming all the things you could do with this and looking at each individual square. Each square tells a story. Each square represents a piece of Guatemala. In the end, I bought this amazing bedspread, and this is all I will need to bring back with me. I could see this as a bedspread, quilt, or even as wall art in my future classroom. Something like this would brighten up a classroom for sure! This is something meaningful, beautiful, and special that I can treasure for the rest of my life. A painting would be something special as well, but there was something about this that made me feel like this was exactly what I needed. This surpasses anything a painting could have said and represented. 

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