Thursday, November 26, 2009


For our first ‘Reconnect’ lasted for three days. My entire group went back to our training community in Guarambare to see how everyone is doing, have a medical session with Medical Mary and Dr. Luis, talk with the PC directors, listened to a few charlas to give us some project ideas... The week also heavily focused on language classes, which I was not happy about. CHP’s language training style and I have never gotten along very well. One the first day we were divided into small preselected Spanish and Guarani groups. The first two hours were helpful, but after lunch the teacher decided that we were going to play games with the new words. While I do understand that games help some people learn, I am not one of them. I find them to be painful and generally embarrassing if they take place right after we’ve learned new material and I haven’t had time to process it yet. So I decided I didn’t want to play games, I wanted to go and study the material by myself.

During training I would have learned a lot more material if I had spent less time in class. I should have just excused myself everyday after about 2 hours of class to go study the material alone. However I felt like I was a bad volunteer if I didn’t stay in class the whole time. I stayed, was miserable, and completely lost my desire to learn Guarani.

Once I left training I remembered that my responsibility was to learn the language, in whatever way was best for me. After that, I decided that I wasn’t going to waste my time with language exercises that weren’t useful for my learning style.

It took about two months for me to regain my desire to learn Guarani, and I didn’t want to lose that, which I why I was so insistent about being allowed to study on my own.

Rough translation of the actual conversation I had with my language teacher on the first day:

Lyn to the teacher after seeing the game board: ‘Hi, I’m going to go study the material from this morning by myself. Games don’t just work for me.’

Teacher: *Gives me a hard stare like he doesn’t understand what I’m saying
‘Oh then we’ll do something else…’
*Reaches to collect the boards from the causing the other students, who do indeed want to play the game, to protest and hold onto their game papers.

Lyn: ‘No no, they can play if it works for them, it just doesn’t work for me, so I’m going to go study by myself outside.’

Teacher: *Hard stare
‘I don’t think you’re allowed to do that’

Lyn: *Hard stare, slight, set smile
‘I’m going to go study by myself’

Teacher: *slightly exasperated expression that in an indirect culture probably means ‘Get your behind into a seat now…please’
‘Well I’m going to have to tell such and such that you didn’t come to class.’

Lyn: *Not from an indirect culture blows off said warning, smiles, and probably rolls my eyes.
‘That’s fine’
*Goes to a bench outside and studies

Reconnect Day 2 and 3

The next day our little group had the pleasure of breaking in a new teacher. And by pleasure I mean that for the next two days we treated her like a bunch of fourteen year olds torturing a first time substitute.

Case and point:
After doing activity with flash cards that we generally decided was not helpful, we then had to use the guarani words from the flash cards in a sentence. To spice things up we started using the word for ‘to dance,’ [ajeroky], since we had all had a hard time remembering it even though we’d learned it in class, in all of our examples. Every single one of them. Even after the poor woman started shaking her head and saying, ‘use a new verb guys, new verb’ we persisted because we had to do something to pass the time.

One day three I just completely skipped out on the second half of class because it was so dull that I was losing my mind. Jenna and I just sat under a tree and chatted while everyone was in class. Evidently while I was gone Miguel took over the class, went over to the board, and started reviewing the dirty words and phrases we had learned during training.

In our defense, she was a pretty bad teacher and as such we were not able to get her to answer the questions we did have. We would ask her a question and if we didn’t understand her response we would ask her again in a different way, trying to get a different response to clear up the confusion. But she would just point at the board and repeat her response from before. She also couldn’t put things into the following structure:

…which is the format that all of our language training is been in.

To give her credit, she was a good sport about it. It is hard to be mad at Carlos and Miguel; they are quite funny, even with they are being terrible students.

In an effort to get out of language class, Jenna and I decided that we wanted time to get together and discuss what everyone was working on, which is what we thought Reconnect was about in the first place. People could still go to language if they wanted, some people were genuinely finding their classes to be very helpful, or they could come to the alternate session and discuss projects. The male professor I’d had a staring contest with was the one who controlled the schedule, so I figured it would be best to ask my program director, Elisa, to request the extra meeting time. I don’t think he is my biggest fan. The next morning the teacher went to Jenna to inform her that our alternate session had been approved 

Host Family:
Oh yea, and I decided not to stay with my old host family during reconnect. Living with Teresa was just too stressful. I probably won’t go back and visit them. I do have 2 of the sister’s emails. I’ve been talking to one of them, she never asked if I was going to come and stay with them, so I didn’t have to find a polite way to say ‘Your mother is a pill and it stresses me out.’ I am sad that I probably won’t see them again, especially little Nati, such a sweetheart.

I stayed with a sweet old woman who had hosted volunteers in the past when her city was used as a training community. It was just a few blocks from the school, and not having to take the bus to CHP was very nice, though I did miss out my morning walk to Jenna’s house to pick her up and then walk to the bus stop.

Only one other person from my group also decided not to stay with her host family, but I think it is because she is going to visit them in a few weeks.

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