At the beginning of the 2013 school year, one of my counterparts approached me and brought up the fact that there are not enough opportunities for the students to speak english inside the classrooms. After this chat we decided that we would go about solving this problem by starting an English conversation club for 7th and 8th grade students. So technically the club is open to hundreds of students, but since it takes place after school, only the very motivated students show up.
One of the first activities we undertook was starting a pen-pal relationship with the middle school Spanish classes at the Lowell School in D.C.-- thanks mom! Now after four months of trying to set up a Skype conversation, last week we finally succeeded. Sadly this this initial Skype session took a lot longer to set up than I could have ever anticipated. This prolonged back and forth between the Spanish teacher in D.C. and myself is 100% due to my daily schedule, or lack there of. The truth is that after more than a year in site I still never really know when school is going to be canceled because of holidays, teachers having a cita medica, the water going out, or if there is a funeral in town. Although never knowing may appear to be a bit stressful, the silver lining is you never get bored of the daily routine!
After telling my students that the Skype convo was going to start at 7:45am, they started arriving at 8:20 for the 8:30 meeting, smart right?. That gave us a little time to have a few laughs and practice our pronunciation once more. One we got the call my students students were all smilies. First the 8th graders spoke (in English) about La Boquilla then the 7th graders asked their questions. This was followed by the Lowell students asking their own questions (in Spanish). One of their questions was about dance and my students didn’t only want to talk about salsa and champeta, but they wanted to demonstrate. So I threw on some Joe Arroyo and all my students started dancing salsa liked seasoned pros, but I guess that is what I should have expected when walking and dancing coincide in regards to developmental milestones in La Boquilla. On the other hand, when my students asked to see some American dancing, the Lowell students were painfully shy and all refused. We ended the session with an awkward goodbye when a handful of Boquillera middle school girls confessed their love for a tall blonde 7th grader named Robert. At least they were saying “I love you Robert” and “Where is Robert” in English. I have not seen a face that red since I forgot to put sunscreen on at the Beach last year. Next Skype session my students will teach the D.C. middle schoolers how to salsa (in English).