Things are finally starting to settle into some sort of pattern. I'm really enjoying working with the students in all the different classes. My biggest role teaching-wise is in the grammar classes where I'm responsible for handling all the practice exercises (the profesor teaches the theory). It's interesting but difficult because there are so many differences between British (which is taught here) and American English. I won't bore the non-grammar nerds with details, but basically many of the terms that I learned mean something different or don't mean anything at all in British English grammar. I don't want to confuse the students, so I'm trying to learn things British style ;)
Although I like working with university students, I honestly miss my high schoolers. I was absolutely astounded the first time I got up in front of a class here because all of the students were a) seated, b) paying attention, c) had their own materials, and d) didn't yell, fight, curse, or attempt to slip out of the room unnoticed. Even though it's a wonderful feeling being able to turn my back to write on the board without worrying that someone will misbehave, I feel like teaching at the university level just isn't the same kind of "teaching" as at the high school level. As a high school teacher, I'm a teacher, a referee, a cheerleader, and an entertainer all in one. Students at the university level aren't as much fun - they don't joke around or yell out strang comments. So even though I like the material and the good behavior, I kind of think I'd like to stick with high schoolers. I feel like this is going to come back to bite me later on, but oh well....
Last weekend I went to Concordia, a town about 2.5 hours away from Parana. One of my students invited me to stay with her family there. It was a fantastic experience! I loved it because I got to do what a normal Argentine does on the weekends. We went to a gorgeous park where there's a botanical garden and a historic (yet demolished) castle. We explored the city and shopped among the artisans' kiosks. I even made gnocchi with the family for lunch! For dinner, we had milanesa, a traditional Argentine dish that's similar to fried chicken and beef (but better than you imagine) with home-made french fries. On Sunday, we went to a traditional asado, or BBQ, in the countryside outside of the city. It was so much fun to practice my Spanish and meet so many new people.
This week, I was invited to speak with some classes at a private English teacher-training institute here in Parana. I really enjoyed it! It was basically 2 hours of discussing politics, education, life in the US, my experiences here in Argentina, idioms, etc. The director of the institute wants me to come back again to speak with some other students specifically about teaching. Also, next week I'll be visiting a high school to speak with the students. The chica who's putting it all together told me that most of the students have never met a native English speaker, and they're freaking out with excitement lol! They're planning a picnic, working on translating questions that they want to ask me, and are even making traditional food for me to try. I told her that all that wasn't necessary, but she said that the students really want to do it. I'm so excited to go talk to them and exchange information about our cultures. And I get to be around high schoolers again (for better or for worse lol).
So it looks like I don't have to worry about finding volunteer opportunities anymore...they're finding me!