Sunday, August 15, 2010

"This is the weirdest meeting I've ever been to..."

It's almost been a week since I posted last and it's crazy! This past week flew by. I think that's how I'm going to feel a lot this year. Right now I am in Yuyo's home town: Poza Rica, Veracruz, visiting his family and hanging out for the weekend. Many of you have probably never heard of Poza Rica, but it is one of the most important oil cities in Mexico. The national petroleum company, Pemex, has one of it's biggest bases here in PR. Pretty much everyone in this town works in some part of Pemex. There are 2 main things I would like to say about Poza Rica: 1-It is HOT and HUMID. I'm not just talking like a little hot, I'm talking about-there is no point in doing your hair and make-up because the second you step outside it is ruined-hot and humid. And 2-The best food in Mexico lives here. Seriously. EVERYTHING tastes like it was prepared by God himself. There's no way I can even describe to you or stress these 2 points unless you've been here, so I won't try to. I'll just leave it at that. I will also mention a little story of the first time I came to visit Yuyo's family. Some of you might know, some no, so I'll tell it anyway. There is only one road in and out of Poza Rica to Puebla and it is a looooong and windy mountain road. So, it is June 2008, I am super nervous about meeting and having to talk in Spanish to Yuyo's Mom and Abuelitos (grandparents) all week, and we are in the car driving to Poza. I put on the dress I want to wear that day and Yuyo says "Brihan, i think you're going to be hot in that..." and I'm like..."Nah...I'm from Atlanta, where it's humid and 100 degrees in the summer, it can't be that bad"...needless to say, I wear the dress (that is made of a jersey material, but has a thick polyester lining). June 2008 were the days of Yuyo's old VW and the poor car was a 2003, but Mexico roads are not nice to little cars...anyways, bottom line was that there was no air conditioning, and the passenger's side window did not roll down. Yeah. Soooo, here we were driving the curvy mountain roads with no air and an dysfunctional window on my side. One thing I've forgotten to mention is that that day, it was 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I know I exaggerate a little sometimes, but I'm not kidding. It was twice Atlanta's humidity and 120 degrees because it's basically in the middle of a jungle. I was so so SO mad at Yuyo. He was laughing! And I was dripping with sweat, laid out in the back seat, and absolutely miserable. When we got to Poza Rica, both his mother and grandmother scolded him greatly for making me ride in that car all the way because "She's not used to the heat...shame on you Yuyo!" His grandmother insisted we take the car with air conditioning back to Puebla, bless her lovely heart! I love her. But that story has absolutely nothing to do with why I'm here now, just a little side note. I love Yuyo's family so much. They are welcoming, thoughtful, and loving hosts/family. I love coming here to visit. Although I hate the road here, the views are spectacular!
John Denver could totally sing about that mountain
I'm so glad he's a good driver!
My first week of school was actually really great. Let me just say that I am a night person. I love staying up late; however, I stayed up late on Monday night and my first day of work was terrible. 6:20 comes really early when you go to bed at 2:30. The lack of sleep was made even worse accompanied by a headache, my first batch of stomach problems, and a loooong, borrrring meeting from 8 am-2 pm. I seriously thought it would never end. This was our first official work day--a meeting with all the teachers from primary, secondary, and the prepa and all the administration and staff. I think it's really odd, because at all of our teacher meetings, not only are the teachers there, but the janitors and security are there too. It's nice because it shows an alliance, but I would hate to be a janitor and have to sit through these things!! This meeting consisted of the superintendent talking, each principal from each school introducing new teachers (where I had to stand up in front of 400 other people...), a guy talking about technology, more administration talking, the dance group I'm going to talk about, and to finish it out, this doctor talking about healthily aging. One of my fellow 3rd grade teachers leaned over to me during the doctor's talk and said "This is seriously the weirdest meeting I've ever been to." And it was. It was such a weird mix of topics and people. Anyways, a dance group from the School (I think from primary and secondary?) that competes in dance competitions performed a show for all the teachers!! It included traditional Mexican dances, from indigenous dances and costumes, to typical dances from different parts of Mexico. It was AWESOME. I decided if Yuyo and I indeed do get married and have children, I am going to make them do that. It was great.
Indigenous dancing. The crowd "ooohed and ahhhed"
These costumes were like eagles, they were beautiful!
Cutest kids up there. Seriously.
This dance is from Veracruz, where Yuyo is from!
The next time you see him, ask him to show you!! :)
Like line dancing/clogging with way cooler costumes
That was the best part of the first day of work. We thought it would get better from there, then Wednesday happened. Haha. Don't get me wrong, so far I absolutely LOVE my job. I love my co-workers, my classroom, and all the people I've met, but working in Mexico is going to take some getting used to. Wednesday, we had a meeting in the morning at the primary, that lasted 4 hours, about bullying. Bullying is a serious subject, and I know it happens and we need to know what to do when a situation arises, but Mom said at Woodward they had a meeting on Wednesday about bullying, and it lasted 45 minutes. That just gives you some perspective. I thought surely it wouldn't last that long, but it did. A 4 hour meeting is exhausting in it's own rite, but in Spanish, I could not pay attention for more than 10 minutes at a time. The speaker was very good, though, and really knew what she was talking about. Later that day, we broke for lunch (or "lonch" as they call snack time for the kids) and then came back together to talk about the student manual.

One of the things that's kept us lively and spirited, besides being super pumped about our classrooms and kids, are our friends!! Because we finish everyday at 2 pm, we have the whole afternoon/evening to hang out. It's a great schedule. It forces me to get up early and have the whole day to live! During the week, we usually go out to eat, watch movies, go to the movies, do puzzles, play cards, and just hang out. So far, it's been really fun.
Yuyo, Darius, and Oscar eating Carnitas
And one of us!! Que bonitas!
Thursday and Friday were great days, because those were the days we got to see and start working on our classrooms!!! I am teaching 3rd grade and my homeroom is group F. My co-teacher, Lupita, has 3rd grade, group D, and there are 4 other 3rd grade teachers: 2 Spanish and 2 English. They are all in the top hall of the school that is known as the "Cielo", which means, sky or heaven, but there is one pair (my teacher and I) who are on the second floor of the building. The great thing about this is that all of the specials classes are right by my classroom and Megan's classroom is 3 down from mine!! It's perfect. My co-teacher, Lupita, is very nice. So far, she has told me many times that if I need any help or if I have any questions, I can come and ask her. She doesn't speak English, which I am excited about, because my Spanish will improve greatly in working with her all year! My classroom is huge--which is good, but it also makes me nervous about not being able to make it feel "homey" enough. I have such grand ideas for my room, but I think the time and budget constraints might get in the way of them. :) Friday was the first day we got to be in our classrooms for a long period of time. One of the "welcome to Mexico" moments (but Mom informed me, it's actually like this at all schools, not just Mexico) was that of a stapler crisis. Both Megan and I bought staplers (in Spanish: "engrapadora" it sounds exactly like it's spelled-reading Spanish is a piece of cake), but hers did not work, and mine did not open all the way...both problems making it impossible to put anything on a bulletin board. We set out to find staplers...little did we know, this would be a problem that would take until after lunch to solve. We asked around in the main office, and they told us to ask different people, we found the right person, and she told us the same thing the first person told us "We have staplers and scissors for all the new teachers, but they're in a box somewhere...". Hmm...ok! Thank goodness, there were some great teachers who let us borrow staplers and scissors, but by that time, it was 12:30 and we leave at 2pm. I spent a hour and a half in my room, completely overwhelmed by the space I had and the amount of things I needed to do to make it cute. The thing about this school is that EVERYONE leaves at 2 pm. Seriously. We wanted to stay longer, but everyone left.

One of the best things about the school are the janitors. They were dropping off books and materials in our room and I went in to find 3 of the men leaving materials on the desks in my room. One of them started talking to me asking me if it was my first time in Mexico, and I told him no, that I have a boyfriend that lives in Puebla. One of other little, older men said "Orrrale". haha. According to Urban Dictionary: Orale--To quote a famous mexican comedian: "It is a term of excitement like yeehaw is to the country folk." It does not have a definite meaning but it makes you feel good to say it." In this occasion, he meant like "Yeahhh! Right on!!".  It was one of the cutest things ever. When you arrive to or leave from school, you have to say hello and goodbye to everyone you pass, whether you know them or not. For us southerners, it's not that foreign, but for the girls coming from the Northern states and Canada, this is a weird cultural thing that they will have to get used to. On Friday, we were leaving the school, saying goodbye to all the teachers and janitors. Every janitor we passed would say "Nos vemos Miss. Hasta el lunes. Cuidate. Que tenga buen fin de semana. Que Dios le bendiga. Adios" (See you later Miss. Until Monday. Take care. Have a good weekend. God bless you. Bye.)  It's funny for 2 reasons: 1) they ALL call us "miss" (sounds like "mees") and 2) they have to cover every goodbye/well wishing for us before we pass them. I love it. Absolutely. I don't have any pictures of the school yet, but I do have 2 of my classroom. Before decoration. I'll do a whole before and after reveal like on HGTV...I just wish I had Candice Olsen or Vern Yip to decorate my classroom!!
Looking from the front of the classroom to the back wall.
The door is behind the blue cabinets.
I have a ton of closet and cabinet space!
I'm moving my desk next to the windows across the room...
...and this is why!! It's green and beautiful!
My classroom is huge, has a beautiful view, and has windows lining a whole wall. Light pours into the room, and the climate is perfect for open windows year round! I love it. Can't wait to get it all done!

It continues to rain every evening. I'm not just talking rain, I'm talking torrential rain. Last week, it started hailing and the wind was blowing so hard, the trees were bending. It was scary. Luckily, I'm not scared of storms. Megan and I both agree that our rain jackets (along with our computers) were the best money we spent for Mexico. Hands down.

La Casa Verde, the ministry I came down with in 2007, had their kick-off event on Thursday afternoon. Being in Mexico, we thought because the event started at 2pm, we could get there around 4pm and people would just be arriving. We were wrong!! We arrived at about 3:30, and there was no food left!! That's good for La Casa, but bad for us! haha. This is taking it back to Friday nights and TGIF at The Bowen's house...but we got Little Caesar's pizza and it was delicious...awful for my stomach, but delicious nonetheless.

I'm sure there are 10 million things I want to say and am forgetting, but that's the good thing about blogs, I can just pop in and update whenever I want!! If you are praying for my journey, please pray most importantly for my kids!!! Pray that I can enrich their lives and that they are open to me and what I have to offer! Pray for the workload, and that they can come to know and understand that I care for them not only as my students, but as human beings! I need wisdom. More than anything else, I need wisdom to get along with my co-workers--especially my co-teacher--and my students and their parents. You can also pray for Mexico in general. I know that the stereotypes of Mexico are not positive at all at this moment in time, and I pray that people can understand that Mexicans are people just like Americans. That being American means that we have been given many things that the world does not have and will never have access to, but that doesn't make us better and more knowledgeable than anyone else. One of the things I hope and pray to learn this year is focusing on the fact that there is no one way or correct way to do things. Every culture, and group of people have their way in performing everyday tasks that I might think is completely weird and backwards, but they have been doing it that way for hundreds of years, and they still function the same way in society as me (for the most part). Anyways, I just want to make a difference in my students' lives, and learn from the national teachers, as well as my fellow international teachers. We are all coming from different places in our lives, and we all bring so much to the table. I can't wait to get to know everyone!

Ok...I am going to bed. I started writing this about 2 hours ago. I get distracted easily. I love all of you. Thanks for reading and praying and supporting me!! I truly feel loved. I'll leave you with a couple more pictures...some reasons why I love Mexico.
The juvenile mariachi bands walking down the street.
Precious puppies trying to see us through metal doors
And random dalmatians that make your day.
Out of everyone, he walked right up to me! Love you Hay.


  1. Hey Boo! Sounds great! You may be a writer one day! Thank Pilar for taking care of you. I will continue to pray for you and Megan. Love you!

  2. B, your mom is know that :) I love you and your blog and the awesome time you are having there! I'm so glad you are doing this and it makes my heart smile!! That was supposed to be a comment about you but it ended up being about me...oops. Side note:: that guys pants in the mariachi band are SO tight!!! haha

  3. FYI
    hay said the tuts name is oscar...he said he thinks he's funny but sometimes annoying

  4. Brittan, you are going to have to post often and shorter (they'd be shorter if you did it more often). This was a LONG read...almost like a 4 hour meeting - jk! I also bet those janitors are bored to death in a meeting that has nothing to do w/ their job!!

  5. Hey Brittan...what an awesome experience...I love following your adventures ....this is such a blessed time in your life...a time you will remember forever....keep posting...miss you though....sending lots of love, light and prayers....Aunt Jeanne