Sunday, May 31, 2009


A couple more pics for you, the crew from ICPNA Cajamarca.

Gravol is God!

Hola amigos!
Well, I have had an awesome few days. First, nobody told me that after class on Wednesday I was supposed to hand in all my grades. So, my last exam finished at 9:30 and I had to get all the marks in before 10 as well at be at the bus station by 10:15. I just love how nobody tells me anything. So, I worked really fast but I still had one class to do. I handed that one in yesterday. It takes a really long time to grade all the exams, calculate the average for the course for each student, count absences (more than 3 absences equals failure) and assign a letter grade. I hate having to give people with 82 % a D. It seems ridiculous to me. Rebekah (who is my collegue from Texas) took at taxi with me because it´s safer when the white girls stick together right? Maybe not though because we attracted a lot of negative attention. Luckily Rebekah has been here 2 years and speaks fluent Spanish so she told the men where to go. At the bus station we met Ray, Mercedes, Sarita, Geraldine, my roomate in Chiclayo, Delicia and her husband. When I had to board the bus I guess the lady asked me for my fingerprint but I had no idea what she was talking about, so she thought I was right idiot. She pointed to the page and I put my finger there but I didn´t have ink. Point two for me, she was shaking her head at my stupidity as I boarded the bus. The security is really tight, like at the airport, although you don´t generally have to give your fingerprint at the airport. So, the movie on the bus was Twilight which was pretty sweet, in Spanish with English subtitles. I didn´t watch much though because I felt sick. My third mistake was to eat the food they gave me, a sandwich and a muffin with sprite. For the 8 hours it took to get to Chiclayo I was sick constantly. When there was nothing left I was just puking up bile. It was disgusting and I´m sure you would rather not hear that, but the sad truth of this blog is that it´s the sad truth of everything. The first time I didn´t expect to puke, suddenly it just happened, a bizarre thing, so it went everywhere. !Dios mio¡ It was awful. Lukily my roomate who also sat next to me on the bus was safe from my sickness and she had lots of tissues. The bus attendant or whatever you call her gave me some kind of pill which didn´t help at all. Although, I was pretty triumphant because I managed to take it no problem. It´s actually the first time in my life I have ever been able to take a pill. It was useless. So, when we arrived at Chiclayo I was pretty woosy and ready to sleep for about 3 days. I needed to eat but my stomach was too unsettled for food. We squished 5 of us into the most tini taxi ever and whizzed off to the hotel. When we got there we had to give our passport numbers for our rooms. We need our passports for everything here. It was about 7:30 when we finally settled in. I had a shower, but there was no hot water. Well. So I did this weird dance thing because it was soooo freezing but I needed a shower to wash my hair because I was sick...
So, then I lay down for about an hour to try and get some sleep. We all had to be at ICPNA for 9 in the morning. Hahaha. Well, my roomate who is 32 and has 3 kids (just a little fact for you) went and knocked on the door of the girls next door (Mercedes and Geraldine). They weren´t ready so we said we´d wait. Well, they left without us. How rude! So, we arrived at about 9:20 but we weren´t last don´t worry. The Peruvian way is to be late. ICPNA Chiclayo is massive. It has it´s own building, which is blue. It has a library and massive office and a little place to eat and patio outside and even an auditorium. Totally different from the 8 2nd floor classrooms in a random building and tiny office in Cajamarca!
Our first session was all about blended/hybrid and internet learning. If the teachers follow the plan, they´re going to make themselves redundant. I don´t agree with a lot of what he was saying. Having taken a correspondance course in Spanish in Canada I think it´s really hard. Ýou have to be intrinsically motivated and it´s really hard when it comes to pronounciation. If you make a mistake, there is no teacher to correct you right away. I understand that people are busy and it´s easier for some people to learn online, but honestly learning a language takes time. I think the traditional way of classroom learning for languages is the best way to go. It´s all very well to study in books or on the computer but actually having the confidence to use the language when you are surrounded by people who speak it fluently is a whole other thing. Sometimes, it´s hard for me when I totally brutalize the Spanish language and it´s easy to get frustrated. I wish that in my Spanish class at Uni there was more conversation because in the end that´s really what you need to practice. Getting 100% on a written Spanish exam is wonderful but if you are too shy to say anything it´s useless. I am always telling my students here when I ask questions to a student and they don´t want to answer, that if they can´t speak to me in a class of their peers, they can´t travel and communicate with English speaking people. It might sound harsh but it´s true. I´m a very encouraging teacher and I don´t allow my students to make fun of each other so mostly they aren´t afraid to try. Most of the students here are learning English for travel or business. For me, if you go the online way, it´s on top of class. Class every day or every second day plus internet learning for extra practice I think is a wonderful idea. But really, for me I look at the faces of my students to assess their understanding. If they are sending me assignments on the internet or learning lessons on the internet how am I supposed to know how they are doing, or even if it is them who is completing the lesson. So, I wasn´t very impressed with this session but ICPNA seemed to want to implement it and with my one month of experience, what do I know? Oh, I also saw Miranda again and met Colleen so that was nice. I actually only saw them that day.
For lunch on Thursday a group of us went to this little place. Most of them had ceviche but for me raw fish is a no thanks and my stomach needed something not too exotic to calm it down. So I did the most boring thing I have done in Peru ever and ordered chicken and chips. It was actually really good though because the chips were proper English type. I felt better afterwards. To drink I had some traditional Peruvian thing though so don´t worry I haven´t gone off trying new things. It took us about half an hour to work out how to pay for our bill. ICPNA gave all of us 20 soles, so about 6.50, for meals each day. In Canada it wouldn´t stretch but for here it´s average. They gave us our bill together and with stuff that we shared it was so complicated. Well, afterwards we went to the Plaza De Armas in Chiclayo, which is nowhere near as gorgeous as Cajamaraca, but it does have a nice Cathedral although it´s yellow. We went shopping down the main strip but nobody bought anything (as we are teachers at ICPNA and payday is once a month, next week I think, so we are all poor). Okay, that might not be the reason. I can´t remember what we did next!!! Oh! We went to the hotel to rest a little bit and shower etc.. Right, next we walked to Totos which was like a mile away. No, not really, but it was dangerous because the cars go everywhere in Chiclayo. I think that it is similar to Lima. I am so glad everybody ignored when I said I wanted to go to Chiclayo and sent me to Cajamarca instead. It´s about a million times better here. My roomie wanted to buy clothes for her kids. Afterwards, we went to the mall which was a bit of a sketchy walk because it was dark. I chatted to Geraldine a lot. It´s nice because she´s 18 too, actually a month younger than me and from the Phillipines. Her first language is pretty much English though because she doesn´t speak any Phillipinino as when she was 5 she moved to the U.S. and she has been here 6 years or something. Her Spanish isn´t great either. She´s a fun person and interesting. At the mall I bought a t-shirt because we were all planning on going dancing and I had nothing to wear at all that would be okay in a club. We all had ice cream for supper, I wasn´t hungry because I´ve grown accustomed to not eating supper here. The lunches are just so massive! At 10 Delicia and her husband came to the hotel and we all went to get ready (Geraldine did my hair etc because I´m not really into that stuff) and then at about 10:45 ish we went to the club. When we first arrived I thought it was pretty dead. After a while more people came though and it was awesome. They played Latin music and then a band came and played traditional Chiclayo folk music so nobody could really dance but they had these traditional dancers come in so that was good to see. We had Tequeños, which I love, yummy! After, they played more Spanish music and even a few songs in English and we danced. It was fun! We left at 1:30 though because we had to be at ICPNA for 9 the next day. We walked home from the club which I thought was a little stupid but the girls who were from Chiclayo said that this part of Chiclayo was safe at night. One of the others gave me her jacket because I didn´t have a sweater so that was much better. It actually seemed okay though because we didn´t really pass anybody.
In the morning we had breakfast in the hotel, eggs and bread and jam, and the office people in Cajamarca had arrived along with Mirtha, another teacher. We all went to ICPNA and had a session entirely in Spanish about Psycology. This was fine until she started asking questions. Luckily my roomate told me what the questions were so I didn´t look like a total idiot. I got the gist of some of what was going on, the problem is that in psycology there are complicated words. The session was long but we had a break which is shown in the picture above. There was juice and turkey sandwiches yummy. Then, at the end of the session she said we were going to write an exam in the afternoon. In Spanish! Good grief. Nobody told me about this. I was rather panicking because I thought it was like really serious. For lunch most of us went to a cute restaurant. It was nice to chat with my collegues and get to know them as people not just the other teachers. After lunch it was really hot!! We took some photos in the Plaza and then Pilar, Ray, Juan, my roomie and I went shopping again. I don´t think anyone bought anything. After we relaxed in the hotel and then went back to ICPNA for the exam. I was allowed to use my Spanish-English dictionary which helped, but the exam was not that serious. It was more like a personality test but it was really long. It took me about 3 hours to write the entire exam. After the written part we had to draw a person, house, and tree and then the same but in colours. This is supposed to tell us something about ourselves. So, if I did badly in the first part those of you who know my drawing skills can tell that it wouldn´t help much. However, everyone liked my tree and asked if the person I drew was my boyfriend. It wasn´t, which someone said was fortunate for him. Which was true because my drawings were awful except for my tree. After this there was another written part which I didn´t understand at all but did my best on. When we walked back to the hotel I was looking at the sky wondering where the stars were (smog covered) and I fell into a small hole. So, everybody was laughing including me and asking why I was looking at the sky and not the sidewalk. I am clumsy.
After the exam, the same 5 of us went shopping again and then out for supper and to the Plaza. When I told them about my travel sickness we went to the Pharmacy to buy Gravol for like, 30 cents haha. I didn´t buy anything because I really have no money, plus I didn´t see anything that said Chiclayo. Oh well. We arrived back at the hotel at like 10, and had 20 minutes to pack and leave for the bus. Everyone was very impressed that I only brought one bag. Really, it was only 2 days! Gravol is God. I wasn´t sick once on the bus and I just fell asleep. It was so nice! Pilar sat next to me and we chatted a bit with my limited Spanish and her limited English.
We arrived back here at like 7 yesterday morning. When I got off the bus I stood up and hit my head on the roof because you´re supposed to duck. Everybody thought that was pretty funny too. Oh dear. I took a taxi here alone (for the first time) and actually managed to say directions to my house in Spanish and end up here. Yay! I got changed and quickly finished marking my exam and then ran to ICPNA for my 8:00 class. I returned for lunch at about 1, which was fish, yucca (carb), a mountain of white rice (carb)and potatoes (carb). I think that my spaghetti rice pasta pie would go down well here. I used lots of ketchup for some flavour. I quickly planned my class for the afternoon at then returned at about 3:15 to open the doors (I have a key now) and teach my class. The exams went pretty well. It´s so rewarding with this class because they didn´t speak one word of English and now they can introduce themselves and talk basic English. It´s cool to think that I helped with that. I had a student score 100 and lots of 90s and 80s in that class and then I had one 34. This was really depressing for me. I must have really failed to help her somewhere. In my favourite class I had about 5 students ace the exam, which is set by the office to keep a standard. I was pretty happy. All in all, I only had to fail (and by fail I mean less than 80%) 5 students in all my classes this cycle, 2 of whom never came to class or wrote the exam so I don´t feel bad about failing them. Yesterday I got my schedule for tomorrow. This cycle I have 5 classes, 6-10 every night and then 8-12:30 and 3:30-8:00 on Saturday. No little kids, thank goodness, but one juniors beginner class (that´s 12 year olds) which will be interesting. It´s a good schedule because there´s a lot of planning to do during the day and I will have a bit of time to myself, plus I can still go to the gym and I don´t have any classes at 7 in the morning. Yippee!
I had a student email me and thank me for my help and said that the 100% was for me because I am a good teacher. So I was pretty happy but I don´t have a big head because I am so angry with myself for letting a student fail so badly. But I really appreciate that a student would say that to me.
Today I am meeting a friend for lunch. I slept in until 9 this morning. I know, I am lazy but I was shattered after work yesterday.
Good grief, I have written a short novel, but I´m sure I´ve missed out so much.
Thanks so much for all your emails!!
Okay, take care, greetings from Peru!
Un abrazo, Gemma
Ps. the other pic is Geraldine and I

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chiclayo bound and outraged...

So, if you can believe it, I have to pay 30 soles because in one of my classes there are only 8 students and the mininum number is 9. Do you think anybody told me about this? No! Also, this is something that is outside of my control. It´s bad enough that everytime I walk someplace I go on a guilt trip from all the beggars asking me for money (although when they grab my clothes I don´t feel bad about saying no, I get angry) but now I have to pay more for the honour of teaching for 4 and half hours every Saturday. Don´t get me wrong I enjoy my job but I think that enough is enough when it comes to paying.
Today, we had dessert at lunch time... cottage cheese with honey. I have never heard of such a thing. I am not the biggest fan. I told them my tongue was confused and didn´t know whether to go sweet or savory. I am so funny.
This morning I went to the bank and it was so nice, all the tellers waved at me and I got called up right away by name ahaha. The man said, come back again soon. They are so jolly at the bank like a family or something. I have only been there 3 times! Well, that´s what happens when you are the smiley white girl in the neighbourhood.
At the gym today I pushed 30 kgs with my legs. I started with 2.5 so I feel good about myself. I felt even better when on one of the arms machines I pulled 15 and then a young man in his 20s maybe almost died trying to pull the same amount. Okay, so a regular gym going man would have done like 90 or something but still, I felt in shape!
It rained again this afternoon. That´s every day for like two weeks.
I am a little nervous about Chiclayo, about 20 people have told me to be very careful. It´s nice to have people looking out for me but also a little bit unnerving. What are people like there? I hope that we are in a good part of town, the girls at work said the hotel is nice. It will be nice to meet Colleen, who is from Regina and catch up with Miranda from B.C..
Don´t be worried for me, I won´t have a chance to write again until maybe Sunday.
Oh, I forgot on Saturday we had fish soup. Rosa had the whole head of a fish in hers and the whole time I ate it stared at me. I was almost sick. I´m not veggie or anything but I don´t like food with eyes.
Yesterday I was really annoyed because I almost made it all the way to ICPNA without attracting any attention but then this man winked at me and blew a kiss. So that makes 0 trips walking alone without being annoyed by stupid men.
I don´t know why I am anxious about Chiclayo but I have butterflies in my stomach. Weird. I never had butterflies about Peru or in Peru before. So, what did I do to prepare for Chiclayo? Pack all my pepto bismol and plastic bags for all the puking I might do in the bus. Erlack. I am going to get no sleep in the next few days. Plus, puking is tiring. Maybe I´ll get abs (that´s really looking for a bright side). I arrive in Chiclayo at like 4 in the morning. I arrive back here at like 4 on Saturday morning with class at 8. Hm, fun. ah, es la vida as they say here. No, really I´m sure it will be another exciting adventure. Maybe I just don´t want to leave Cajamarca because it´s so completely awesome. That could be it.
Some people asked about my age. Well, sometimes I feel young and ignorant and wonder what an earth I think I am doing claiming to be able to teach English, but most of the time I feel pretty old and capable. Like, when my students say they´ve never left Cajamarca it really puts perspective on life.
Other people have written to me that they wish they could do something like what I am doing. Well, I have to say, do it! You only live once and it´s important to live it out. Don´t let your surroundings suffocate you. The world is huge. Don´t trust what other people say, see for yourself! In the words of Irene Cara "take your passion, and make it happen." Those are my wise words for today.
Yes well, I expect you to email me and leave pretty comments while I am away.
Thinking of you all, whoever and wherever you are.
Un abrazo, Gemma

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So, if you can believe it, even though I am half way across the world I just had Jehovahs Witnesses try to sell me their religion. Don´t get me wrong, I respect their right to believe what they like, but I wish they were less pushy and respected my right not to believe.
Yesterday watching Luis´ game was painful. They lost 7-0 but they were lucky not to lose 30-0. I could tell they were done for before the game even started when the other team arrived and began doing organized drills while Luis´ team were running about all over the place. In the second half the other goalie was sleeping or something, in the whole game he saw the ball maybe once. After the game, Luis told me his team played really well. Oh dear God. I want to be their coach and work them into shape. Their tactic seemed to be to kick the ball as hard as they could to the other end of the pitch even though nobody from their team was there, and also everyone on Luis´ team ran for the ball. The other team worked circles around them! I have a list so long of things they need to learn. I think some of them don´t even know how to play soccer.
Yesterday, I subbed for another teacher who felt sick. Her first class was okay but her second were devil children! Good grief! I had to give them a seating plan. Holy man I had to be like that teacher that everyone hates because they were so bad! I was relieved to get back to my own classes. I really hope she is better and I don´t get called in again today.
It´s short today but I really have so much marking to do!
Ciao amigos!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Time flying past

¡Hola amigos! ¿Que tal?
Everything here in the beautiful country of Peru is fine and dandy thank you. Yesterday we did not go to Porcon because Luis and Rosa were trying to sell their car and it might get dirty or something, also because there is no place to eat in Porcon an my family like to eat. So, yesterday we went to an outdoor restaurant near llacanora which was sweet because outside there was a park and a soccer field. So, Luis, Luis and I played soccer. Apparently they are very impressed with my goal kick. I played in goal for bit. Today I have decided that I want to go and watch Luis play soccer at Davy College. I think his coach isn´t very good because he didn´t know where on his foot to kick the ball or what being offside meant etc. Plus, they play 7 aside with 3 in defence, 2 in midfield and just luis up front. It is not surprising they are losing all their games, Luis says the midfield don´t come up to help him. How the heck is he supposed to score with no one pass to?
I just met two men who are travelling around Peru because they were sitting next to me in the internet cafe. They are from BC so that´s cool. They said they had been in Cajamarca for ages, like 5 nights. Ahahaha. They tried to ignore me but I am just too friendly. Ahaha. The one guy had his phone stolen so he was calling Canada to get it cancelled. When I see white people I just am so curious about what they are doing here etc.
I only have 3 days left in this cycle. On Saturday I work 8-8! That is a longggg day. Plus, I don´t return from Chiclayo until Saturday at like 4 in the morning.I will have to get sleep on the bus. I am pretty excited for this cycle to finish so that I can hang out with my friends again. They are signing up for different teachers next cycle so that there is no problem.
Luis and Rosa bought a new tv and it is huge. We looked at my photos on it, they are awesome. The screen resolution is wonderful!
Yesterday I made another new friend, this man was walking with his family and came over and said hi and welcomed me to Peru. His kids were so sweet! I don´t mind people like this, it´s the men who shout out to me hola, princesa, linda, reina, bonita etc that gets really really annoying. I probably look like the biggest snob rolling my eyes and walking off but seriously I can´t even walk 2 blocks without attracting attention, even during the day. I don´t have to walk alone at night now so it´s about 1 million times better.
Well, I better go because I am running out of money to spend on internet and I am off to the gym plus have class to prepare. Ah, for a quiet life. Haha just kidding, I wouldn´t have it any other way!
I think that´s it´s going to be really hard to leave this place. I know that I will return someday. I have no choice in that matter. You couldn´t imagine a more beautiful atmosphere, unless you offed all the rudey dudey men. Then it would be perfect.
Well, keep emailing me because I love hearing from all of you.
Saludos, Gemma -x-

Saturday, May 23, 2009

From the gym!

So, the gym is crazy busy and I cannot find any machine to use! So, I let Rosa use the treadmill and came on the computer! I am so not going to be ripped, but hopefully I will be in shape. I would like some abs but so far they have yet to appear.
Haha, in class the other day I was trying to explain what a marquee was, and of course I have no idea what the word is in Spanish so I tried to draw it on the board and everyone was like, oh a table. So I said no!! I erased it and tried again but it did not work. In the end I drew a camping scene and said its bigger than this tent. After class a student said, you drew a table and then erased it and drew the same table. Oh dear God. To have the ability to draw!! I really hope I have the same group of students next cycle for my Reg.1 class because I love them! The mixes of personalities are great! Haha, Funkytown is playing right now.
Today we are having ceviche for lunch, i.e. raw fish. I really prefer my food cooked. So, I am not looking forward to this meal. Then, later I have my long Saturday class with an exam in the middle of it. The students in that class are pretty good though, considering how long they have to sit still for.
Yesterday in the class I subbed for there was a student who was very hyper. I asked him to write an answer on the board and he pretended he was a plane or something as he walked to the board and made lots of interesting noises. He was quite entertaining and I think he knew he was being entertaining, but I had to tell him to calm down. Roll call for that class was very interesting. Their names are so hard to pronounce!! I say a name and everyone looks at me blankly like, who? Ahahaha.
I sorted out my bus ticket so I should be good to go for Wednesday. I{m pretty excited about that.
My friend invited me to a concert, but I am not sure if I can go because I dont have my schedule for next cycle yet. I would really like to go though!
Okay, well I think Rosa is just about ready to go home and I have a killer pain in my back.
Ciao amigos!!
Ps. the pic is on Sunday near Llacanora

Friday, May 22, 2009

1 month!!

So, today I have been in Peru for one month!!
Wow, I can´t believe it. Time flies when you´re having fun, which I certainly am!
Yesterday, when I was waiting for the class before mine to finish, my old students who are 6-7 years old finished their class early and all came running up to me and gave me a big hug. It was so sweet! One of them gave me a gift- a flyer with TVs on it. Awwww. Another begged me to be his teacher again. Children are so cute when they are not being devils in your class.
Well, I only have 4 days of classes left in this cycle. I wonder how many classes I will have next cycle. It would be nice to know soon. I received my bus ticket for Chiclayo next Wednesday but my name is spelt wrong so I have to sort that out today.
Today I am subbing for another teacher. I think she doesn´t trust me with her class. She asked me a lot of times to please be on time. I am always early by at least 10 minutes for class.
So, since I cancelled all my meetings with students so as to abide by the rules, on Sunday my family said we will go to Porcon in the morning. So, that is very cool of them. Apparently, Rosa loves it because it is a beautiful place.
I really love how Rosa is like my friend. She was asking me what type of men I preferred when we were on the treadmill at the gym. I was worried about asking her back, but it was okay she described her husband, thank goodness!
Well, I really have no more time, I have to prepare my classes right now!
Thanks for stopping by!
Un abrazo -x-

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Funny texbooks

Haha, so the other day my collegue came to me to show me what her book said. It said "this textbook really turns me on" with a translation beside it saying "I like this textbook." I feel bad for students in the past who have been taught this and use it in conversation without understanding its meaning. The textbook I teach has a strong emphasis on saying "as a matter of fact, I am" like it´s the most important expression in the English language. All my students will talk like proper posh people. Also, how often do you call something a lemon? Do you know what it means when someone says "it´s a lemon?" The textbooks were apparently made in the US but I keep having to tell my students, "nobody says that" or "that expression is so inappropriate" etc.
I am really really annoyed because I just spent half an hour typing my initial report to send to Juan and it´s gone. It was so good too! Grr techonology. But, I do love it because it has allowed me to keep in contact with people.
Haha, on the radio at the gym the announcer said, "and now, brand new from Kelly Clarkson, Breakaway." How old is that song! It´s also really funny how the announcer pronounces the names of bands and singers. But, I know that it´s really funny I how pronounce Spanish as well, so it´s all in good humour. Like, I was trying to talk about a car "carro" but because I can´t roll my r people thought I was talking about something being expensive "caro." Oh, to have the r rolling skill.
Yesterday, everybody in my Pre-1V class was late. It was awful! I had lots of material to get through and I lost 15 minutes. My Reg-1 class was great though.I played jazz music and some other types while they worked after I finished teaching. It was good. I have one really sweet student who always comes up to me and says "sweet dreams" when she kisses my goodbye.
This morning Irene and I had a laughing fit because she had the hiccups and I tried to teach her to drink water backwards.
The two pics I added today are at Santa Apolnia, just up the road from where I live.
Ciao amigos!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Going to buy pepperspray...

so that people can worry about me less. I am being very careful, believe it or not! Yesterday, Juan Escate, the WUSC rep in Lima came to see me as he had just dropped off another student in Chiclayo. He looked at my pictures and seemed to think things were going well, and said that I seem to have adapted to life here well and my understanding of Spanish is better so that´s good. Then I gave him an English lesson for about an hour which he recorded to listen to on the bus, because it´s about 16 hours to Lima and really not a lot of fun.
To pass a class at ICPNA you have to get 80%!!! So, actually I might have to flunk some students. How horrible is that! I have students with 82% all upset because it´s only a D. Good grief! I really don´t like the way one of my students looked at me when they got their exam back with only 67%. It´s not my fault they didn´t study. The average in that class was 85% so that´s okay I think. My other class with 28 students has an average of 89% which is actually awesome! Yesterday in my Pre 4 class I almost broke out into hyena giggling but I restrained myself because it´s not very professional. I was trying to explain this article about what children can do at different ages and they didn´t understand crawl and so they said, show us. But I showed them standing up because I didn´t think it would be professional to crawl on the floor.
Yesterday at lunch two of Rosa´s friends came around so that was nice. We had spaghetti which was surprisingly normal so a nice change. Not that I don´t love the food here, gorgeous home cooked meals every day beats Uni! But my Mum still cooks the best food :)
Yesterday I was invited out with all my collegues for lunch on Sunday. We are allowed to socialize with our collegues so this is okay. It will be nice to make some girl friends my own age.
Haha, yesterday one of my students wanted to know how old I was so I said 18 and other students heard and were like "Que!! Profesora, no! Miss you are young!" Hahaha.
Today I am taking some Jazz music to my Reg 1 class because last class we were talking about music and nobody knew what Jazz was! Dios mio! Don´t worry, I will educate them.
Well, it´s a short one today because I have to go and finish preparing my class.
Cheers, Gemma

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guinea Pig and Rice.
Me with Otoniel´s Dad and his Bible.
The random cave in the Andes.

Falling in love with Peru...

So wow! It´s Tuesday and I haven´t written since Thursday. I expect you were friggid with despair at not having to read another essay from me. Actually, I have been very very busy, which is a good thing, I think.
Thursday evening I met with one of my students, Otoniel, who is 23 and we went to the Polleria, which is not the name of the place but a kind of restaurant that serves chicken. We studied English. After this, we went to Santa Apalonia, which is gorgeous at night because you can see the whole city. I think I would have cried if I were a more sentimental person. He walked me home. It´s good to have people looking out for me.

So, Friday was exam day and naturally my students begged me to hold off the exam until never, but since they had two weeks warning and lots of time to study I was mean and said no. The exams went pretty well though. Saturday morning at 8:00 I went with Rosa to meet all the teachers in the the program (the schools of poverty in Cajamarca). These teachers have a high school education at the best, so we all went to a training at Davy College. I really wish I could have read the minds of the teachers when they walked around the College. It is 1000 worlds away from the schools they teach at. Some of them were in awe facially though. It was really interesting for me to take the training entirely in Spanish. It was about teaching children though, which would have been useful for me before when Delicia was away and I taught classes of children. You can see my Children CD class pictured above. I tried to take it when no-one was looking because the camera would have created a lot of excitement. The first part of the training was lecture form and I understood the general gist of it so that was exciting for me, of course it helped that we were given hand outs and it´s easier to read Spanish for me. The second part involved singing and group work though... I almost managed to learn all the words to the song before it was over. The group work was more difficult, in the end I did the artsy stuff and when we presented someone else did the talking, thank goodness! I did meet some awesome women though. When we got back here one of Rosa´s brothers and his daughter were here so we chatted for a bit and had fish for lunch. In the afternoon I had about 1 hour to plan my 4 and a half hour class (yes, I organised my time well) and then ran off to ICPNA. However, when I got to ICPNA, out of the five of us who had class that afternoon only one of us had a key and it didn´t work. So, that was good planning. We had students up and down the stairs (which, by the way, are going to kill me) waiting. In the end the keys were sent by taxi and we started class 45 minutes late. My class was okay I think, we give our students 20 minute breaks on Saturdays because the classes are so long and it´s just not fun without some time to relax. After class on Saturday it absolutely hammered it down. So much for Rosa telling me 2 weeks ago that there would be only one more rainfall in the season. I went to the Plaza to meet one of my students but being a man and useless he was 10 minutes late. So, I was pretty soaked but despite that actually pretty happy beacuse the Plaza is beautiful and Cajamarca is beautiful too, especially at night. We went to Quinde, the mall here and had pizza (my first time in Peru) while we studied. Then, we tried to go to Santa Apolonia (because I love it there but I can´t go by myself at night because it´s too dangerous) but Otoniel wouldn´t let me go up because he spotted two men lurking who I didn´t see. So, you see why it´s a good thing that I don´t go out alone. Anyway, we walked away pretty fast and he walked me home.
On Sunday morning at 8 I walked to La Recoleta Church, which is gorgeous, and met a different student, Antonio. We took a taxi to Banos Del Inca for a walk in the park so he could practice English. It was somewhat depressing as the night before his girlfriend of 3 years dumped him and he was a total wreck. I felt bad for him. He told me his entire life story, and it was pretty difficult. He is the mathematical genius I talked about before. He told me he finished first in the class at the most difficult math school in the world, located in Lima, and that´s why he has a grant to go to America and why he needs to improve his English. He then tried to explain to me this really complicated mathematical thing that he loves but I didn´t get it. It didn´t help that the whole thing was in Spanish. After, we went to a little restaurant place for a drink and took a Combi back. He, too, walked me home. I have decided that the Combi drivers are really rude. They are yelling at you "get on get on get on" and "get off get off get off" and practically push you out. Antonio is 25 and has had 92 girlfriends. He had pictures of them all. I told him he was a player. He said he was honest with the girls he was dating at the same time and they didn´t care. I told him he was still a player and that it was only necessary to have one girlfriend at a time.
Rosa, Luis, Ana and I went to Quinde for lunch to the Polleria there. The fries here are proper big chips. Yummy. Big Luis went to Celedin for the weekend. I couldn´t go because I had to work on Saturday and the others couldn´t go because Ana isn´t doing well at school and might have to repeat the year. When you´re paying 300 dollars a month for private school this is a big problem. In the afternoon I marked like 500 workbooks and exams. Arrhhh!! But, I think it´s important that students know what they are doing wrong so it was a good thing. (I had students come up to me and thank me yesterday for my feedback so that makes it worth it.) At 7:00 I met a different student (I´m starting to realise that none of the students who ask me for extra help are female...) and we went out for supper at a pretty nice place. He is 25 too, I thought maybe 20 from the way he looks. He is the biggest square I have ever met! It´s awesome, he´s even straighter than me! He doesn´t drink, smoke, or do drugs (which is good!), he´s never had a serious girlfriend (i.e. he´s a virgin) and he only goes to the club or the bar very very rarely is there is a group of 10 or more. He´s very religious. When I said I was agnostic he invited me to church with him on Sunday. He goes like 4 times a week. He says I shouldn´t go out in Cajamarca if there isn´t a large group of people and some men to look after me. When I told him I that I walk home from work alone he was totally shocked. He said that after class he would walk me home, which is a pretty good thing I think. Despite this, he is totally crazy and a fun person to be around. We also went to Santa Apolonia and just talked to practice English for 2 hours. I love Santa Apalonia, I think I should just live there in a cardboard box. I would be happy. Until it started to rain or creepy men came up to me. I´m having such a good time here now that I have friends close to my own age and a family who are a lot of fun. Don´t worry, all my male friends here know I have a boyfriend in Canada, some of them think I´m engaged, and people here have respect for things like that. When he walked me home he wouldn´t let me walk beside the road. Everytime we crossed the street and I tried to stand there he stood closer to the road than me. I was like, what are you doing!! He said that it was custom for the man to walk beside the traffic, so if a car verges over he´d die first. So, thats sweet in a disturbing kind of way.
Yesterday was awesome! In the morning I was supposed to teach one student to catch him up with his class, but he didn´t show. Delicia saw me and said she wanted a word in her office so I had to wait. I was so nervous!! She gave me my lesson plans and said I had to type them up. So, that will be fun. There´s like 50 of them. Then she said she was going to observe my class in the evening. I was like noooooo AHH!! Then, she said that the rule at ICPNA is that teachers are not allowed to socialize with their students. So, how many times have I broken that rule? A lot. I think it´s a silly rule. I understand not going to a party with them or drinking with them but I don´t see why I can´t help them with English outside of class. Most of my friends here are my students. So, I was in a pretty bad mood when I walked home and when creepy men said hola to me I gave them a glare that could kill. At 9:30 I met Otoniel because before we were talking and I said I wanted to see some waterfalls, he said he would take me to llacanora. So, we took a taxi with his friend the cab driver who was very funny and kept laughing at my Spanish, and stopped a few kms away from llacanora. We walked up the mountain to check out this cool cave thing and there was a dog who followed us. We walked though the mountains over rocks and through forests and stuff which was so fun! But, there were spiders. I freaked out! Most weren´t very big but I spotted this little hole which was a spider´s den and I pointed it out to Otoniel, who proceeded to poke it with a stick and then this huge spider came crawling out. Well! I have never run so fast in my life. I ran halfway up the mountain in 2 seconds, which Otoniel thought was hilarious. This spider is only poisonous to cows apparently. But still, I don´t like big creepy spiders! The dog followed us all the way to llacanora! The waterfalls were gorgeous. You can see the two main ones above. Again, I wanted to cry but I didn´t ahaha. I had fun running near the waterfall and getting wet like a 3 year old or something. For lunch we went to the actual town of llacanora and I had... wait for it... Guinea Pig. I told Otoniel that in Canada Guinea Pigs are pets and he thought that was very funny. He said he would prefer to eat it. Guinea Pig has a really odd flavour, I don´t think I´m a big fan of it to be honest. There isn´t much meat. It`s Ana´s favourite food though. You should see my legs. They are so mosquito bitten!! I look like I have a really bad case of chicken pox. I didn´t even feel the mosquitoes biting me and I didn´t see them either! It was sooo hot yesterday! We went to visit Otoniel´s parents which was 3 km away from Yacanora in the mountains, where they have a little house and land. Only his dad was home though, and he was a pretty cool guy. Otoniel told him I was agnostic so he proceeded to read me parts of the bible in Spanish and explain how there had to be a God etc. I wish Otoniel hadn´t told him I was Agnostic. It was a little awkward. But, he was a really nice man. Living in the beautiful landscape he lives in, every day looks like a miracle. Otoniel played music from different Spanish bands and then suddenly he played Here I Am by Bryan Adams!! I remembered Grad and everyone in Canada then, but I wasn´t really sad. I love my people back in Canada but Peru is awesome. I absolutely love it too! Haha, When I told my other student that in English speaking countries we don´t kiss each other on the cheek to say hi and bye, but instead shake hands, he thought I was joking. He was like, how stiff is that? It´s unnatural. I think he´s right. Now, when someone tries to shake my hand, it seems really stuck up. Like, do I have something on my face, why don´t you like me... Having said that, only one person has tried to shake my hand, and they were white.
Yesterday evening I was so nervous for my class!! Delicia left for 5 minutes to talk to someone else and I let out this big breath and started laughing and my class cheered. It was quite funny. After, Delicia said she liked my class. I was so relieved!! Apprently I asked 23 comprehension questions though, which is a lot. I hope she never comes to watch my class again. I don´t like tests!
Yeah, well I´ve been hogging the computer for about 2 hours now to write all this and answer questions from students so maybe I had better go!
Hoping you are well!!
Un abrazo,
Cheers, Gemma -x-

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Infrastructure and a rude awakening...

So I am very annoyed because last night Delicia came and asked for all my lesson plans. When she talked about them before, she said they were just for me. So, all my lesson plans are all over the place on looseleaf in red pen with scratchings all over the place where I have changed things. Those of you who have seen my writing will know how terrible it is!! So, I guess I could re-write them all, which I really don´t want to spend a gorgeous Peruvian day doing, or I could hand them in as is with the excuse that I didn´t know I had to hand them in. I have no idea if it´s normal for your boss to want to see your lesson plans, but it feels like a lack of trust in my teaching to me. Those of you who know me well probably realise that I´m going to rewrite the worst of them. Yesterday I managed to follow directions given in Spanish to find a store that sells notebooks. The only kind they had were decorated with Cartoons, so I am now teaching classes with a Simpsons notebook. Classy. At least all my lesson plans are in the same place now though...

Yesterday I gave a private English lesson to a man who works in the mine here. We went up Santa Apalonia Hill, which is basically a death climb because there are a lot of steep steps and despite my gym trips it was hot and I almost died. Okay, I may have exaggerated a little. It was nice to spend time with someone closer to my own age. I love being with my family here and students but having friends close to my age is fun. I would like to stress the word friend here for those of you with suspicious minds. I might be a crap girlfriend but I´m not that horrible. He helped me with Spanish too, so that´s great for me. I had been thinking about looking for Spanish classes here to help me out but it´s much better this way. I don´t have to walk by myself or take a cab. Also, I get to walk around Cajamarca a bit. It´s much safer for me when I´m with someone else. He told me men would leave me alone if I were walking with him. Which actually seemed to be true. When I was giving him a lesson, a little boy came up and said he wanted to learn English. It was sweet but sad because you could tell from his speech that he wasn´t all there and very poor.

The only other white person working at ICPNA, from Texas, was robbed on the way home from work. They took her phone and her money, etc. So, now I´m even more nervous about walking at night and Rosa is worried about me walking too. However, I don´t know where this girl lives so maybe it´s in a worse area of the city. I have been given directions as to the exact route I´m to take home and to work, and there are a lot of people around so I´d like to think they´d help out if someone were to try and rob me. Rosa says I´m to give them my bag and run like the wind. Well, she didn´t say those exact words obviously but that´s the general idea. I walk pretty fast. I´m not sure about the girl who was robbed, she´s a little on the larger side of things.

This morning the student who I am supposed to be catching up didn´t show up for class. So, I could have slept longer. Oh well, it´s better to see the day right? Rather than waste time sleeping...

I am constantly frustrated with my Pre 4 class because half of them are late and loud and the other half are really trying to learn. The really frustrating part is that when I circulate the room to help they all want to learn, they just seem to want to look "cool" in front of their friends. Or, they try to flirt in English. Like, what girl wants to be told she is delicate, especially when she´s trying to maintain a position of control? Not me. It is really pathetic. They are mostly maybe 20-21. I think I even preferred the children to half of the students in that class. At least children can be expected to act like children... the worst part is that if they do crap on the exam it will be my fault.

The pics are of the really fancy restaurant and my sunburn, because I know that everyone is really interested in sunburns. Ahahahaha.
Please, the person who left a comment anonymously before, tell me who you are!! I really am curious.
Well, I guess I´d better get to rewriting my lesson plans... :(
Ciao for now!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

From the Young Gringita

I laughed a lot when I heard that one of Rosa´s friend´s told her that her son had a new teacher, a young Gringita.

Good news! Delicia is back! No more little monsters. I´m sorry about losing my two morning classes though, I really enjoyed them. They were sad about losing me though so that made it a bit better! There is a student who just signed up for the class at 7 in the morning so I have to give him private lessons for a few days to catch him up. It´s nice that I get to see some of the students when I arrive at ICPNA for his lesson.

Yesterday at the gym I saw one of my students. She has huge muscles!! She yammered away at me in fast Spanish. Luckily all that was required of me was to nod my head in agreement. Good grief.

My Juniors all came and gave me a big hug goodbye and a kiss as usual yesterday. They are so sweet.

Haha, in my Pre-1V class one of my students came at the end of the class to ask a question and I thought he wanted a kiss, because that´s what students usually do at the end of the class, come and kiss you on the cheek. Hahahaha. It was okay though. I didn´t break out into mad hyena laughing.

I never wrote about the blankets. My blankets are alpaca wool. The wool gets absolutely everywhere. I look like an alpaca there is so much wool. Rosa gave me different blankets today. Yay for that!
The pics are of Otuzco.
Well, off to the gym again before I eat a meal fit for a King!
Ciao, Gemma

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Raindrops keep falling on my head...

So, yesterday we had the mother of all rainfalls. It sounded like people were tap dancing on the roof. Irene and I went running like mad wild things up the stairs to rip the clothes off the line. It was intense, I think there should be a sport called mad clotheslining. Ahahaha. Okay, I am very sleep deprived. I didn´t get to bed until late and I woke up early.

Delicia is still not back. How unreliable is that? I have no idea when she will back, so I don´t know how many classes to plan. Obviously I don´t want to waste time preparing classes that I don´t have to teach.

Yesterday my two classes of kids were insane. It was awful. They were totally out of control. I don´t know why. I´m pretty happy none of them fell out of the window. It´s really hard to lay down the law when you don´t speak enough Spanish. I moved the bad kids as far away from the window as possible and they still tried to chuck things out of the window. I had to close it. At least half of them were acting like they had A.D.D. and spontaneously screaming etc. I really want Delicia to come back so I don´t have to teach 6-8 year olds anymore. At least I know that I never want to teach kids younger than 10. Valuable knowledge. When there are 10-15 of them and only one of me, they are all crazy, and my Spanish is rudimentary, it is very difficult.

The nicest part about yesterday? On Friday I told all my classes that Delicia would be back on Monday. When I walked into my class of Juniors (12 yr olds) yesterday they cheered me in. So that pretty much made my day. Espcially as I had just walked there in the mother of all rainfalls and was thus somewhat wet. The Doctor in my morning class said "if Delicia doesn´t come back tomorrow, it`s no problem for us" so that was nice too. Then today when I showed up to teach again Doctor said, "see you tomorrow" even though I told him Delicia would be back. I hope she is back, I would like some sleep. My Pre-1 class yesterday were all happy to see me but not so happy when I said it would my last class with them (they are only Mon, Wed, Fri). I think it´s pretty cool that I teach people who are intelligent enough to be doctors. The two above morning classes are lovely. I wish I kept them and gave Delicia my Pre-1V class, most of whom are my age or in their 20s and content to spend time laughing instead of concentrating on English, and the men try to flirt in English. I.e... the question in the workbook was describe people, and one of them decided to describe me. This was a little bizarre as he´s probably 30 ish and although he was very nice and not suggestive I don´t appreciate having students look at me in a way other than as an English teacher. They are very immature and tend to giggle at everything I say. It´s really annoying.

My last class yesterday was my favourite. My reg-1 class now has 28 students and I really enjoy teaching them. They are motivated and try hard. Yesterday the computer wouldn´t work and the pen ran out and I tripped over the garbage but no-one walked out. There is barely space for me to walk around the room to check work as it is so crowded, but they help each other out so that´s great. I wish I wasn´t so exhausted by the time their class starts. I made up a bunch of sentencs with mistakes I saw walking around the room and they had to correct them, and one woman said "Paris is a city" and some people said "no it´s not" and I said "it´s a country" and then I was like "oh my god. Paris is a city in France" so now it´s a joke that I think Paris is a country. At least we had a laugh. How embarrasing is that. I was so tired, which is a crap excuse I know. It´s hard though because the students who don´t understand don´t ask questions and don´t speak up in class. I had one student come after class to ask me if Wednesday would be easier. She never spoke up once when I was asking for questions, walking around the room etc. Oh well. Another girl came and told me I was a really good teacher. So that will probably keep me going for the next 3 months. So, in one evening of classes there a many highs and lows, but I am always exhausted at the end! I just hope that my all my students pass the midterm on Friday (to pass here you have to get 80%) and that my class isn´t observed. If Delicia observes my class I will be so nervous! I think it´s pretty bad that when I was observing she didn´t let me watch any of her classes, especially as those were the ones I´ve been teaching for a week. Maybe she doesn´t like to be criticised. I guess that all I can do is my best so I should stop worrying about everything.

Rosa and I go to the gym in the mornings now. That means we can go for 2 hours, yippee. I will die of exhaustion. After the gym they try to force all the food in the world down my throat. No, I am joking, but there is a lot of food. For me, the soup would be enough.

My Spanish is a constant frustration. Even though I am learning I just want to be fluent right now! I have no patience left, I want to understand what people say the first time in Spanish!

I was wrong, Mother´s Day here was Sunday, but they celebrate it from Saturday to Monday. Luis and Ana didn´t have school Monday. What a nice treat for all the mother´s, instead of a relaxing day with the kids at school and enjoying their company in the evening, they have to have the kids around all day.

Yesterday I met another teacher at ICPNA. So, I guess there is a male teacher. He only has one class though, hence why I have never seen him before. His English is pretty good (obviously as he teaches it), but not awesome. When the other teachers talk to me in English they make grammatical mistakes and use incorrect vocab sometimes. So, at least as English is my native language I have a slight advantage, maybe it makes up for my poor Spanish? Right, I´m supposed to stop worrying about things.

The pic is of Pisco Sour. It is officially my favourite alcoholic beverage, made in Peru. Rosa is going to teach my how to make it and I´m going to bring a bottle back and we will have it at my 19th. Yummmy. The other pic is a typical Peruvian soup. The name escapes me. I´m not too keen on the beans.

Today I feel a little sick. The first time since the bus here. I hope it goes away.

Did I write about Otuzco? I can´t remember. It was on Sunday. I don´t think I did. Okay on Sunday we went to the world´s most fanciest restaurant. My jaw dropped when we walked in. It was gorgeous. The chair´s were massive, and I couldn´t help but think that if you ate there everyday you would need a chair that size. I had this really good steak with peruvian sauce and some kind of Peruvian side dish thing with lots of mushrooms. Yummy. We also had starters which were excellent. I was confused though because they said it was with salsa which I thought meant spicy red stuff but here salsa is any kind of sauce. Anyway, after the meal for Mother´s Day we went to Otuzco to see the windows of the Incas, where they slept. It is so cool. I have photos but I will post them later. There were loads of people though cause it was Mother´s Day, so they said we would go back another time. I got this photo in this shop beside an Inca statue but they made me buy something so I got this cute little keyring for like 30 cents.

I will post more pics another time. The other pic is of my room here. Veryyyy nice :)


Sunday, May 10, 2009


One of the hidden beauties of Peru. You blink and you miss it.

Sitting on the fountain in the Plaza of Celendin


Luis and Ana now have a microphone, enabling them to be even louder. At 7 this morning they were up singing and playing guitar and watching videos on Youtube. It was very loud. So, I didn´t sleep in today either. Although 7 is better than 6.
My Reg.1 class now has 27 students. It is beyond ridiculous and very nearly insane. In my opinion, there should never be an ESL class of more than 20, but ICPNA is a business and I suppose they want to make money. The levels of proficiency are extremely varied and it is difficult for me to give individual attention, which I feel is important when you are trying to learn a language. I like to catch mistakes before they become habits. I can see more advanced students becoming frustrated when I have to slow down because of the perplexed faces of the less advanced, and I can see the perplexed faces of beginners when I try to cater to the needs of the more advanced students. Supposedly they are all at the same level, but this is simply not true. It´s hard also because I have young people 12 years of age with whom I could play games to help them learn, but then I have 40-50 year olds who are very conservative and serious and want straight lessons, assignments, and attention. Well, I am just doing the best I can for them. I haven´t actually had all 27 students show up on the same day yet, thank goodness
Yesterday morning at 8 I went to the hairdresses with Rosa because she wanted company. While I was there I planned my lesson for yesterday afternoon. 4 1-2 hour lessons really aren´t that much fun. This class spoke no English and the way the text book starts was very confusing for them. So, I did it my way instead and it seemed to work better. Really, they were trying the pronounce words and they didn´t have a clue how the letters sounded in English. I started with the alphabet instead of conversations.
It was mother´s day here yesterday and Davy College, where Luis and Ana go to school, held a Mother´s Day carnival type of thing. It was very nice. There were younger students dancing to songs in English, because the school is bilingual. There was a concert band and couple of rock bands who also sang in English. They were really good! There were also some Spanish songs and the Mariachis, as pictured above, from the University. There was volleyball and inflatable things for the kids and egg and spoon races etc.. It was a really nice time. The food was great too! The only negative... I got major sunburn. I was itching all through class in the afternoon. Luis and Ana were fascinated by my burn. People here get sunburn and you can hardly even tell. Me? I´m a whole different colour. My skin is all tight and I think the gym tomorrow will be painful.
Happy Mother´s Day in Canada for all the Mother´s reading this!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

My clumsiness

Last night I walked home part way with 3 of my collegues, all of whom are gorgeous and one of whom is expecting. I wouldn´t mind some tan any day now... Anyway, I walked straight into a sign and went into hyena laughter so now they think I am crazy. Hahaha. I like walking home with my collegues, I don´t receive catcalls when I´m not alone.
At the end of the month I have to travel to Chiclayo for a mandatory teacher training. I´m pretty excited that I get to go there free of charge and stay in a nice hotel, and it will be fun to get to know my collegues. I will see Miranda and Colleen there too. I´m not excited about the bus ride though. I hope I don´t get sick!!!
My 8:00 class on Saturday is cancelled because there are no students. So yay, I can sleep in!! Simon said that this is normal. They give you 7 classes and you´ll maybe have 4. I´m actually annoyed though because I had 3 hours of that lesson planned already. Oh well.
Yesterday we had a staff meeting about the trip to Chiclayo. It was weird because we all had classes, so the students had to wait on us for 15 minutes. It was embarrassing for me because one of the other teachers had to translate what was going on. I understood the gist of it but not all the details. I was actually proud of myself when I managed to understand that there was a staff meeting, where and when it was when the caretaker came and told me. The secretary told me that Simon spoke really good Spanish. So that´s nice. Two of my advanced students were able to pick out my English accent today. This is pretty clever I think. I can´t tell when people speak in different accents in Spanish. My English accent isn´t even that strong!
The classes I am teaching for Delicia had a lot of complaining to do when I told them I wouldn´t be their teacher next week. It was quite sweet actually. It´s funny how everyone calls me teacher or miss. Okay, I know it´s not that funny, but it actually is.
My pre-1 class now has 16 students. It is not so bad. Yesterday when class was over they all stayed for like 10 minutes even though I opened the door and said they could go. It´s nice to see their interest in English.
In my intro class, we were asking the question "why are you studying English" with the given answers "for business / travel / college or university / to meet English speaking people" and one girl says "I am wanting to learn English because it is beautiful. It is so beautiful language" How sweet is that!! She came up with that herself. We were all uplifted for that class. Ahahaha.
I am hoping that my Reg.1 class doesn´t grow anymore today. 23 is enough for me!!
Ciao for now!
ps. The pic is of me in Lima drinking Inka Cola. Yummy!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Yesterday I had 23 students in my reg. 1 class. We had to move to a bigger classroom!! It´s difficult with so many students though because I can´t judge how they are picking up the material very well individually, and it is also very loud! I think I will lose my voice soon. I don´t yell but I have to speak fairly loud.
I´m off to visit Davy College again. The pic is of San Marcos.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I have a 6th sense

So, in this morning´s class I was trying to demonstrate the following:
Is he ______?
No, he isn´t. He´s _____.
So I pointed to one man and said randomly, is he Carlos? The class replied, yes, he is! I thought I would share that with you because I can´t believe I actually guessed his name by mistake. Hahahaha. I almost broke out into hysterical hyena laughing. Thankfully I didn´t because my class may have walked out.
In my opinion, the book we use for my Pre-1 class has lots lessons in the wrong order and presumes the students know more than they do. There were a lot of challenges today. Last night my Pre-1v class also had lots of difficulties.
Last night I went to bed at 8:50 as soon as I came home from class because I was absolutely exhausted. My class that goes later is only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so I got to sleep early yesterday. Rosa thinks I´m starving myself because I haven´t been eating supper, just an apple or something. Honestly, after the 3 course meal lunches I am full enough for a week! We always start with soup and then have salad or corn or some Peruvian thing and then we have a huge main meal with meat and rice etc. If it´s a toss up between food and sleep, I choose sleep. I love sleeping now!
Our trainer at the gym knows my team is Arsenal so he was having a good laugh yesterday when I was watching the Man U vs. Arsenal game. They were down 3-0 when I left and ended up losing 3-1, which isn´t a surprise because they can´t seem to actually shoot at the net.
I haven´t even started planning for my 8 and a half hours of classes on Saturday yet. I´m so tired when I come home in the morning and in the afternoon I go to the gym because health is important too, and then I go to classes right away. At least next week I´ll have more time as Delicia is back so I don´t have many classes. However, two students have asked me for private lessons as they need to pass their entrance exams in English for University in America. It will be possible for me to help out when I only have 2-3 hours a day and 8 and a half on Saturday.
My class sizes increased again yesterday. Most of my classes are between 10-20 now, which is a lot because the classroom isn´t that big. Especially with adults the room seems full.
It´s so nice to sit down!
I am really enjoying teaching at ICPNA, even though there are lots of challenges.
Thanks for all your interest!!
Ps. The parrot is from the mini zoo in Sucre. He was brought in from the jungle.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My lack of Spanish skills

Wow, I am exhausted. ICPNA doesn´t believe in giving the teacher a stool or a chair, we have to stand up the whole time. So I spent 5 and a half hours on my feet without a break last night. I got back home at about 10 and then I had to help Ana with her English homework, so I didn´t get to bed until late and then I had to get up at 6 for work this morning. My feet hurt hahaha.

I was almost late to work because it took ages to catch a taxi from the gym so I ran to work with my 9 really heavy books looking a right state I´m sure. My first class were Juniors, age 12, and I had about 12 students. It was hard because they were all tired from school and only wanted to gossip and hang out. Also, the computer didn´t work for that class so I had to do lots of thinking on my feet and lots of reading. It´s really sweet how they all gave me a kiss goodbye as they left. That kind of relatinship between teachers and students just doesn´t exist in Canada. Although, I think I would find it odd to kiss my teacher everyday. My next class was about ten 6 yr olds and they were incredibly intelligent. We got through way more than we needed to and they already knew more than was necessary for the unit. However, some of them were actually crazy and I had to think of activities involving movement because they wanted to run around and scream. The challenge with this class was the parents asking me questions in incredibly fast Spanish. I have no idea what they were talking about so I hope everything is okay. The next class was also 6-7 year olds, but they were a little more advanced. I only had 6 which was nice because it was much calmer. They were learning about the body and adjectives so I sang head, shoulder´s knees and toes with them, which they loved. One boy picked it up after I had sung it only once. It was amazing! Both groups of kids were very good about speaking English. My next class was Pre-1V with kids my age and in their 20s. At first I only had one student, which was really funny and we kept laughing. Then, suddenly I had an influx of students and ended up with 8. Do you know those really annoying men who think they are all hott and and cool, and try to be all smart and mouthy? Well I had one of those in that class. I didn´t really enjoy that class and I wish it was only for a week but I have them for the month. My last class started off with only 2 students, and then Antonio (the smart guy who´s going to America) walked in. He signed up for my class, which is so funny. About 25 minutes late, I had a huge influx of students and ended up with 17. The classroom was packed because it´s not very big. I played the wool tossing ice-breaker and got through lots of material. I think the class went okay. I had a lot of fun with them. One woman was so lost she was almost crying though. I felt bad because she was about 40 and she dídn´t have a book yet. I went over to try and help but she didn´t want me to help her. Everyone else seemed to pick things up pretty quickly. It was really funny when this man who was like 35 asked me if he could go to the bathroom. I was like, of course, you don´t have to ask! The ages in that class ranged from 12 to abou 50. I´m glad I have that class for a month.
I just got back from visiting Davy College with Rosa, which is where Luis and Ana go to school. We went to pick up the money for the food for the poor schools in Cajamarca. Davy College is another world. It´s like a resort, totally gorgeous. The gym is twice the size of the gym at B.U. and they have a tennis court and a football pitch and a games field. There are 900 students and it´s massive. It´s really out of place though because it´s surrounded by poverty, if you look over the walls that is. There are teachers there from Canada and the USA and England apparently. I did see a white english speaking teacher but I didn´t get a chance to chat to her. Apparently the teachers there make about 2000 dollars a month. That is insane!
Have to go and prepare lessons now. Ciao!
P.s. The pic doesn´t really go with this post, but it is the market in Celendin, which occurs every Monday.

Monday, May 4, 2009


A mototaxi
Beside a river near JoseGalvez.

In the Andes, lots of family.
Two mountain people I met.

I have an unnaturally large head...

My room in Celendin.

The hat is just resting there.
The housekeeper in Celedin mushes up the food.
apparently! None of the hats in the store in Celendin would fit my head. So now it´s a big joke that my head is massive. Hahahaha. Celendin was awesome. It´s so different from Cajamarca, and I think I prefer it. It´s smaller and everyone knows Luis and Rosa as Luis was a doctor there for 3 years. It´s not that small though. I had a lot of typically Peruvian food there, but not Ceviche. I´m not a fan of uncooked meat, and it´s probably not a good idea for my health to eat it. The drive to Celendin was about 4 hours, but it seemed really fast. There was so much gorgeous mountain scenery to look at, it´s not even remotely comparable to the very dull drive to Winnipeg in Manitoba. Peru has little surprises everywhere, and if you pay attention you will see waterfalls and streams that otherwise you would miss. I love how unspoiled the beauty of Peru is. It isn´t crawling with tourists, in fact I didn´t see any people who didn´t look Peruvian the whole time I was away. Today I saw one white person but he was old and didn´t seem to be 100% all there. I really like that the Peruvian cultures are so dominant here and things generally aren´t in English and Chinese as well as Spanish. It seems much more genuine. It also means I have to always be practicing Spanish which is great, but I´ve been here almost two weeks and it seems like my Spanish is still dreadful. Oh well. It gets really tiring having to concentrate so hard on what people are saying all the time. I called my family last night and it felt so weird to speak English so fast!!
My first impression of Celendin, honestly, was one of anxiety because everything seemed so poor. However, over the next few days I saw that it really wasn´t so poor. Granted, there were poor parts but people just don´t seem to care about the exterior of their homes. The paint can be peeling and they can look dreadful, and then inside can be totally gorgeous. I´m so used to people being so concerned with how things look on the outside that it surprised me that people here only care what things are like on the inside. Honestly, I think the Peruvians have it right. My bedroom in Celendin was actually a cell phone store. I had been wondering why there were posters advertising Movistar all over the walls, and then yesterday Luis´s brother came to move all his cell phone stuff back in. I didn´t mean to cause such trouble!! But apparently it was nothing.
Luis, Ana and I went for a walk the first night in Celendin, and Luis asked me, all full of innocence, what is f*** Gemma? I was so shocked I almost walked into a lamppole. I said Luis, I am not explaining that to you, but it´s not a good word in English. He thought that was hilarious.
There are dogs everywhere in Celendin. The first night I thought I was being bitten by mosquitoes, but apparently it was a flea. So that´s really nice. I actually really love Celendin and I hope to go back sometime.
Every place here, no matter how small or big, has a Plaza de Armas, which is essentially the central meeting place. It´s really awesome because everyone goes there to socialize and just hang out. All the Plazas I have seen have had a Church right across the road too. There are always one way streets in a square around it. In Cajamarca, mototaxis and Combis aren´t allowed in the Plaza de Armas because they are too loud.
In Celendin I got to ride in a Mototaxi! Twice! It was AWESOME! Canada needs to have some, I could start a Mototaxi business. Although it would only work for the summer. The driver thought I was crazy because I was so excited about it. Rosa, Ana and I went around the plaza in one and then yesterday we went to the bakery in one. I found out that Rosa´s daugther`s name is actually Ana (for short) and they call her Anita because they add ita to people they love. So now they call me ¨hey-ma-ita¨ which is nice but sometimes I dont respond because I am not used to being called that, so they have to say it two or three times. Hahaha.
Apparently I look like Rosa´s daughter, and also similar Anita. A lot of people asked if I was Rosa´s daughter when we were in Celendin, even though I am so white. I am not even a little bit tanned, naturally.
Rosa and I went to JoseGalvez, which is the town she grew up in. She showed me her school and I met 4 of her sisters and 3 of her nephews. One of her nephews is crazy. He is 8 and was so enthusiastic to see his aunt and I. I really love how affectionate people are here. Boys aren´t ashamed to hug and kiss their mothers and sisters on the cheek openly and frequently. Little Luis always comes to me in the morning for a kiss and is always hugging and kissing Rosa. It is sweet. Anyway, Rosa´s nephew Rodollo came and gave us big hugs and wet kisses on the cheek hahahaha. I enjoyed meeting Juan because he is 16 and therefore closer to my age. He is very serious though. We went to JoseGalvez twice and the second time we travelled around to a place called Sucre and to a mini zoo and a graveyard. At one point we climbed through a barbed wire fence into a greenhouse area and they stole flowers to take to the graveyard. I don´t know, maybe they know the owner of the greenhouse and it was okay but I thought it was a bit odd. There was this massive plain of land in the valley we looked down on, and Juan asked me what I would do with the land. When I said take pictures and dance he thought I was very silly. He wants to build an airport there because he wants to be a pilot or an engineer. Honestly though, I think it would be a shame to industralize such gorgeous scenery. Also, I don´t know that a whole lot of people would travel to JoseGalvez, which is comparable to Rivers in size. However, what do I know about it, perhaps it´s a great idea. I think I only saw him smile once. Rosa says he and his brother are extremely intelligent. His brother gave me this beautiful rock for a present. I was touched, it is so lovely, I have it in my room. At Rosa´s sister´s house we had hot chocolate, but is is very different from in Canada. It is pure chocolate grown in Peru. The first day I had it with milk, but the lady told me the custom is without milk, so the next day I had it without. It was so rich, but yummy. We also had bread made in Celendin and pineapple jam. Yummy. On Saturday when we went to the mini zoo I saw a parrot and some other animals from the rainforest. It was quite cool. We had to wait for abut half an hour to take a taxi back to Celendin. There were no cars on the road on the way back.
On Sunday there is a market in Celendin and the streets were packed. It was quite literally fantastic and I had a blast smelling the smells and looking at the wares. No cars are allowed down the roads, only mototaxis, so it`s safer walking than usual.
Luis had a lot of patients in Celendin so he worked a lot. He is very proud of being a doctor because he studied at the best school in Peru. There are posters advertising his clinic all over Celendin. He is very proud of his Ultrasound machine.
Gas here is so expensive! It is about $1.70 a litre! Bread is quite cheap though.
On Friday and Saturday I got to play football or soccer with Peruvian people. It was so much fun. At the start there was only Luis, Luis, Ana and I so I thought it would be a pretty dull game. However, we picked people up on the way and by the time we got to the pitch there were about 14 of us in the car and more met us there. I didn´t play that well on Friday, but on Saturday I scored a goal! (granted, the other team had pulled their goalie, but still). It rained a bit and was very hot while we played. My face was bright red by the end which they all thought was hilarious. With their gorgeous brown skin they didn´t even seem tired. One guy had a bad nosebleed. I don´t think it was my fault, I hope not anyway! His name was Alex and he laughed at my red face for ages. Hahaha.
On Friday I met a couple of mountain peasants who, if I translated right, wanted to meet me because they had never met a white person before. They were super nice.
Most of the time here I can forget about my race, but when I go out into the street and people stare and stare, or sometimes stick out their tongue, or sometimes smile in welcome, it is very hard to forget my colour. I don´t have a problem with curiousity, but living in primarily white countries I haven´t encountered rascism towards myself before. Its a really interesting experience and surprisingly even when, occasionally, people look at me like I am dirt, it doesn´t bother me. They don´t know me so when they look at me they see only white people, and their anger is directed towards us. I know it might seem odd, but I can see where they are coming from. Countries like Canada and England send money to the governments of these countries that need it, and the governments are so corrupt. The government programs are limited in their numbers and usefulness. Really it seems like countries such as Canada don´t care, it´s more of a having to seem generous type of deal. If they actually wanted to help the poor people, they would need to send money to the grassroots, to trustworthy people like Rosa who want to help and are doing what they can. I know it´s not going to happen, and obviously I am making a huge generalization, but it really helps nobody when the government is skimming off the money.
I met loads of Rosa´s friends in Celendin. The Godmother of Rosa´s children gave me a gift of handmade crafts from Celendin. The people are so generous. Rosa bought me a little box that says Celendin too. I am so overwhelmed by people´s kindness.
There was a housekeeper in Celendin too, but I was allowed to do my own cleaning there which was nice! I watched her crush up the chile stuff in the traditional way of the Incas. Very cool!
On the way back from Celendin both Ana and Luis were sick. I felt nauseous but I did the nostril breathing Miranda taught me and I felt better.
This morning I had my first 2 classes, and I have five more starting at 4. I think I did a decent job, although one of the students asked me to slow down for tomorrow. Mind you, she was 20 minutes late so it´s natural that she had some problems understanding. The classes were mixed, ranging in age from 13-40. My second class only had one boy and I was sorry for him because he seemed a little uncomfortable. He participated well though. When I told my second class I would only be teaching them for a week while their teacher was on holiday they were very upset and asked me to stay. I take that be a sign that my class went well. The students are very intelligent and I whizzed through my plans for two days in only one. Mind you, the classes were tiny. My first class only had 3 and my second only 5, which helped with the pace. I have no idea how many students there were supposed to be. Simon dropped in to say bye because he´s leaving today, and he said it´s normal for the beginning of the week to have small classes. One of his classes was only 6 the whole time so it´s okay I guess. Today I have 7 and a half hours of teaching. I have spent about 15 hours preparing for this week, so its a lot of work, but I had fun this morning. I am not so sure abut the childrens classes this afternoon though. They will be hard for me I think because they don´t speak any English and they probably won´t be as patient as the adults.
Last night we went out to eat at about 9. I was ready for bed but if you are me and want to say no, you say yes anyway not to be rude. I actually had this really good lasagna there and some Peruvian things beginning with t. The waiter was really odd. He had a weird way of creeping over the table and and eying everyone up. No one else though it was weird though.
Maybe I´ll use the rest of my time to try and load some photos. This afternoon I am off to the gym before my classes at 4. I ate so much this weekend, although apparently I ate nothing.
Thanks for checking and leaving comments, I love reading about how you are doing and knowing that you are well. I hear this Swine flu thing is in Canada so take care!