I know people now!!! Classes started a week ago, and it has been wonderful actually meeting people (ice cream vendors not included). Have you ever had one of those days when you are absolutely certain that you're doing exactly what you want to do? THAT was my day today.
A little bit about the classes...
I'm assisting in Grammar I, Grammar II, Language II, and Nivel I (for students that know very minimal English). Being a grammar nerd, I find the grammar classes to be very interesting. There's so much that is taught to non-native speakers that is overlooked or assumed to be known by native speakers. And there are different terms for some grammar concepts that I've learned. It's amazing to see how intricately these students are required to analyze the English language. Obviously, they need to be familiar with it in order to teach it as a second language, but I still consider it very impressive. I absolutely love the Language II class because it's all about communicating orally. And, since I'm a native speaker and completely new to Argentina, I get to play a big part in this class. My referente (advisor) Sandra teaches the class, and she is wonderful about getting the students engaged. For example, today we ended up talking about all kinds of topics: food, family origins, our names, etc. The students asked me questions, and I asked them questions in return about life in Argentina. It was really fun and helped me learn a lot more about Argentine culture. For example, did you know that a greatly-celebrated holiday here is Friend Day? Isn't that great??? The even have a special tradition like secret santa to give gifts to their friends on Friend Day: it's called amigos invisibles. I love it!
And the students...
I have to say that I'm very glad that I'm working at a university because I've been able to meet a lot of people close to my age. Unlike teaching high school, it's ok for me to hang out with my students here. Everyone is so nice, and they're very patient with my lack of Spanish speaking skills. Today, the grammar teacher was called out of class for a meeting. While she was gone, a whole group of students and I chatted about random things like what kinds of foods I should try, what my home is like in the US, what places I should visit in Argentina, etc. And we talked completely in Spanish!!! I was so thrilled to get a chance to talk in Spanish and practice the language. Boy was I bad lol! But I was very glad that the students corrected me and helped me figure out verb tenses and vocabulary. I WANT them to correct me!
Also, one of the students teaches/tutors at a high school part time. She asked me if I would be willing to come speak to the high school students and let them practice their (basic) English skills. I'm so excited! I love meeting people, and it will be a great opportunity for me to see how high schools here are managed. I've heard a lot about the schools, but I'd like to see them first hand as well. AND Sandra and Jean, the head of the English department at the university, have asked if I'd be willing to give a lecture on topics related to education in the US, English as a second language, etc. Part of me is honored that these people think so highly of me as to want me to give presentations and speeches; another part of me is concerned that I'll let them down by not being quite the "American" (think choirs of angels singing the word) that they imagine.
Anyway, I'm so excited that things are finally getting started. In only a week I've not only begun teaching and observing, but I've also been invited on a weekend trip to Concordia (where there are some incredible thermal spas) and asked to join a gospel choir!
It's official. I love Argentina.