Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Nicaraguan Independence Day that is.

To celebrate, there was a big parade in which all of the schools in Chinandega participated. Let me tell you, I had no idea how many schools there were until this parade, or until I waited for 2.5 hours for all of the schools passed, and finally my school started to march. Each school brings their marching band, which usually is heavy in drums, some dancing girls, the best students, some flags or other certificates that the school has achieved, and the teachers!

Here are the girls at my school, wearing bras made from corn. Corn is very popular in Nicaragua, and they are sometimes refered to as sons of corn...or something like that.

So I left my house at 6:30 to walk to the plaza with another teacher. Jeff left a little bit later, but not much. We went to the plaza where all of the schools are already lining up, um except for my school which hadn´t arrived yet. So we walked to the school and they were getting ready to leave, so we basically walked right back to the plaza. I saw Jeff, my counterpart, and some students. There I stood until 10:30. Well, I watched the other schools march off, and they each did a small presentation in front of the flag and the mayor and other important people who were standing on a stage, watching. All of the schools dressed in sort of a sailor/military outfit. (This is the band from Jeff´s school)
I´m really not sure why, but it was interesting. Also, the top students wore a sash with Excellence on it, and they wear white gloves. Manuel is the top student at my school, INCH. It used to be INACH, with Autonomo in it, looks like they haven´t changed that banner.
Anyways, it was really cool to see all of the schools pass and the bands play. I thought they were really good, even if I heard the Chinandega song 10 times.

Most of the teachers wear matching uniforms. My school and Jeff´s school didn´t really follow that too closely. His male teachers had pants made. My school was supposed to wear black and white, which about 25% of the teachers actually did. I was in the 75% that did not. So where most of the private schools looked really nice together, our two schools looked like a mismatched group. I guess in other years the government gives the schools money to buy the uniforms for the teachers, that didn´t happan this year. Here is Jeff walking with the teachers at his school.
My school was the last school to march, and let me tell you, being at the end of a parade is not fun. There was a mob that was behind us the whole time, and the 4 policemen who were behind us weren´t really enough to keep everybody from crashing into us, walking in front of us, or pushing us out of their way. I walked about 6 blocks with my school, which took 1.5 hours. My counterpart and I left after that. But I think all 125,00 people in Chinadega came to see the parade, it was that crowded. Here is my position, at the back following our drumline. We were leaving the plaza.

Jeff marched in the middle, right in front of his band, and behind the dancing girls. When the crowd got to close, which was often, the 11th grade students would cut them off with a rope or the dancing girls, who had batons, would suddenly twirl them and hit people with them. I think that thats pretty cool. I´m not sure if anything like that went on in front of me but I´m sure it did.

Anyways, it was really cool to walk in the parade. Everyone was really dressed up and proud to be there. It was a great experience and now everyone knows what the gringos that they see walking around do, they´re teachers!

Monday, September 10, 2007


This last week we went to Managua for a conference of all English teachers in Nicaragua! And the best part, the conference was all in English, so I understood exactly what was going on. It was amazing. Anyways, it was 2 days of presentations by English teachers and professors from the Universities. Some were...better than others. There were over 800 teachers that came to the conferene and it was really well organized. Each day included 1 or 2 all group sessions, and 3 concurrent sessions. The conference ended with, what else, some typical dances, oh and a reggaeton dance as well, which always makes me blush and turn away. (there is a lot of thrusting)

My counterpart and I presented at the conference on, what else, English games! I think I will stick to always teaching about games because its easy and fun! We presented once each day, and it went well....until in the 2nd presentation I was showing how to play Tic-Tac-Toe as a review game with English. One of the participants, who had been participating a lot, screamed and I mean SCREAMED (okay maybe she didn´t scream, but it felt that way to me) that those WERE NOT the rules to the game and that I was being UNFAIR. It totally threw off the rest of my presentation. I calmly explained that those were my rules and she did not have to use them. And she probably won´t use them. Fine. Anyways, here are some pictures, but my camera is totally sensitive to light and doesn´t work well anymore. But here ya go.

Here is a picture of me and my 2 counterparts. Frank, Henry, me.
Here is Henry giving an example of Memory which we use in our class to teach vocabulary. I swear this picture is not posed.
Henry and I before we presented.After the conference on Friday evening, we had a going away party for our boss Deepa. She is married to a guy who works for the embassy so they are moving to Africa for his next assignment. Our TEFL group is really a bunch of nerds, us included, so we put on an Acto which is what all schools do for each holiday. It always starts with the national anthem, check, sometimes a poem, we had that too, a reggaeton dance, yep we had that!
and we included some skits for enjoyment. It was fun. Here is our entire, minus one, TEFL group with Deepa and the Nicaraguan flag that we signed.