A small town girl takes on the world

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Isla Mujeres Photos

Here are some photos that show the spirit of Isla Mujeres. I am definitely coming back here. It's so easy and fun to be here. It might make me lazy, though.

The three lies of Isla Mujeres:
1. "I am leaving tomorrow" - the running joke is that everyone comes for a few nights but stays for a few weeks. It is hard to leave
2. "I am not drinking tonight" - even if you aren't getting drunk, you are having a beer or two, because after about 8 pm there is nothing to do but have a beer, and you can't sleep because the music is so loud
3. "I love you" - the same story wherever there are groups of Latin men, I think

So far, I have stuck to my leave date, I have had beers even when I said I am not drinking, and only one man has told me he loves me. Ha! The three lies hold true....

And now, on to some photos, ya? I can't get the captions to work, so here are what the photos are of...I am sick of messing with the layout so deal with the ugly ok?!?!?!

#1: The ferry ride to Isla of the most beautiful boat rides I have ever taken!
#2: Las chicas...
#3: Snorkeling trip...
#4: Kerstin and I!
#5: A typical day..
#6: Me gusta Isla Mujeres...
#7: New friends...Jito, Kerstin y Kian

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Still in Isla Mujeres

I don't want to leave Isla Mujeres. In fact, I think I'll come back and spent my last few days of the trip here. There are so many cool people, and it feels much safer here than in Cancun, of course. It's nice because there are so many turistas here, backpackers and otherwise, so lots of ease getting around and communicating, and all of that. I like it. Tomorrow, I leave to meet Jessie in Cancun, which will be sad and happy, because I will leave here but start a fun week with a good friend.

Not much to update, other than yes, I'm still alive. Been going to the beach during the day, reading a lot, and at night just hanging out at the hostel bar reading or playing games. I love it here. Everyone is very interested in the book I'm reading, Subtractive Schooling, and then I get to talk about teaching. I guess I never will leave it behind anywhere, you know?

I haven't figured out how to upload my photos to these computers, yet, but sometime when there is no, as they say, long row for the computers, I will have another whack at it.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Current place: Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Learned today that they don't let you board a flight to Mexico unless you have a ticket back. Therefore, I'm coming back on April 20th. Cheapest fare I could find, and I decided that I'm not going to push the solo traveling past a month.

I also realized that when you travel, you find "safe spots". You know, you spend all this time embarrassed, finding a bus, but once you are nestled into that seat, no one can touch you. I'm in a safe spot right now, on the computer, instead of out meeting people like I should be. So, here I go....but Isla Mujeres is beautiful - full of Europeans as it turns out. I'm not sure what I'm getting myself into, but I hope its more than just a bunch of safe spots all over the world.

I already made a bad move: I took a colectivo which you are apparently not supposed to do. But I waited for 35 minutes for the Ruta 13, which I'm pretty sure doesn't exist, and it was HOT as HELL, so I jumped onto a colectivo (on accident, really). So far, I've only been ripped off twice and had someone not get what I was saying once. I'm on a top bunk and have no idea where to get food. Follow your nose?

Hasta luego....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Current town: Orlando, FL

This is suddenly morphing from a teaching blog into a travel blog. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. I'm currently in Orlando, FL, by way of Cedar Key, FL, en route to Mexico.

Some current highlights of my life:

1. Just found out that I am a 2010 Knowles Teaching Fellow. If you don't know what that means, Google it. It's pretty amazing, and to be quite honest, was VERY unexpected.
2. I am a finalist for the 2010 Bonderman Travel Fellowship. Again, Google it, surprised, amaaaaazing.
3. On my way to Mexico for ___???___ weeks. Not sure when I'm coming back, but I do think that I will be in Mexico for the entire time. No border crossing for me this trip, save the U.S.-Mexico water border.
4. Spent a few days in an idyllic town called Cedar Key, FL. Amazing place. So many types of birds, I couldn't even begin to count them or name them. Among the many, though: pelicans - such awesome birds! Egrets, herons, bald! Saw manatees, too! They are SO CUTE and SO UGLY all at the same time. Confusing, really. Such a beautiful place....Got to visit with family that I don't see enough, as well, and ate the most wonderful food.

5. Also! Forgot that this morning I got to grab a quick breakfast just off the UF campus in Gainesville with an old friend from the SRS Research days. Julian gave me lots of good advice for places to go and see in me really excited to get there!
6. Last, but not least, I dyed my hair. It's a little hilarious, because I did it out of a box, but whatever. Don't worry, to all who know me well, of COURSE it's wash out, non-permanent dye. It's already been through 1 of the 28 washes that will take it out. Actually, it's still coming out of my hair. Pretty funny, especially because I missed a big chunk in the front. Oh well, can't do anything about it now. All the blond I tried to cover up has turned reddish brown, so I hope that goes away. I know I won't wash my hair 28 times over the next month, though. :) Who knows what will happen on that front!

All in all, I'm having a great post-teaching program life. Money is getting tighter, but my worries are fading away. My biggest decisions facing me are which Mayan ruin to visit first. But before that....Isla Mujeres. Google it. :)

This is how I will be keeping people (mostly my mother) posted during my trip. So don't expect a quick email response. Check here first!

Hasta luego...


A parting thought: I've spent most of the afternoon in my hotel room, packing, showering, eating, prepping, checking over and over that I know where my money is, and then had a brief conversation with my friend Heather. After talking with her, I realized that even though this is a minor adventure to some people, this is a huge one for me. This is the first time that I have left the country on my own. This is the first time I have really traveled on my own, period. It's certainly the first time I've ventured somewhere on my own that isn't English-speaking (well, let's be honest, a lot of the Yucatan is English speaking...). But still. This is a big deal for me, and even though I know it will fly by, I am really proud of myself. I am really proud of who I am becoming, and the way that I allow (and do NOT allow) things that happen to me to shape who I am. This is a sort of liberation movement for me, one that can't really be taken on by anyone else. To me, that's really exciting (scary too). Aside from all of this serious crap, it's also just really FUN. I haven't even left the country and I'm already having fun meeting people and just having pleasant interactions with strangers.

Either way, I'm proud of myself, and I'm proud of anybody who's been through tough things and not let them define who they will become. Wheeeee haw!!!!!

On a side note, I have no idea if I will be able to post pictures to this at any time, but I'm going to try my hardest.

See you on the flip side!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

...On coming to the end.

Well, here it is. The end of student teaching. The end of the hardest 7 months of my life. I've failed, succeeded, lost relationships, made new ones (hell, strengthened old ones), and through it all I have held my head high and forged ahead to this point.

This week, I am saying goodbye to the 150 young people who have taught me how to be a teacher. 150 young people who somehow managed to get me to open my heart up to myself again. 150 young people who showed me what respect really is, and what culture really is. 150 young people that I will never be able to forget.

I am saying goodbye to two fabulous people that I have lived with for almost 3 years now (I'm only saying goodbye as roommates, but it's still sad!). I am saying goodbye to the staff at this school, who have taught me more than I thought I could ever learn about teaching for social justice, teaching for learning, teaching for kids. I am saying goodbye to my teaching cohort, who went through this hurricane with me, and will likely never all be in the same room again. And, of course, I am saying goodbye to my comfort, as I break out on a month long solo-ish adventure to Central America.

All of these changes are resonating with me deeply right now. As I move towards Monday, I move towards a day when everything is going to change for me, permanently. When I come back from this trip, I will not be the same - that's the point.

As I read the notes that students have written me, I am realizing how many kids I really did reach. I always said that for me, teaching was about making an impact - at least one. If I made an impact in even one kid's life, I would be happy. Today, I'm realizing that I can set my goals a little higher than that. I have made a difference in so many kids' lives, and even if the only thing they remember is that they like science - mission accomplished, that's an impact.

There are lots of things that I want to write here. But I think I'll leave all 3 of the people who will read this a rather extensive sample of quotes from my students, regarding me leaving...

"I only came to class because of you."

"OMG! I'm gonna miss you soooo much!"

"Damn class feels super weird without you and boring!"

"If the chicken don't fly on Saturday, then it's probably gonna fly on Sunday."

"Remember the chicken taste its best fried."

"When you are here, I had a lot of time funny! I don't know how to say with you, but I'm so sad when you leave...I wish you have happy time in the new place. And we always welcome you back in this school. Miss you!!"

"Your a pretty KOOL chick and I hope you seriously find some doode whos lucky enough to have you and totally make some cute babies [LOL] haha sorry talk about random."

"I am gonna miss you because you are one of that best teacher that I had in my life. I want to thank you because you always help me when I have questions."

"Your style of teaching is very helpful to me."

"You are a great teacher because you really cares about us and you don't want anybody to get hurt during the lab."

"I loved learning from you and your cool ways."

"We all created a bond with you as a class."

"Stay safe!"

"God bless you!"

"You have been a great teacher to me and I'm sad that your leaving but I know thats how life goes people that you love or you like come and go. I think that you have made me a better student."

"Being a TA for you guys was fun. Even though you guys didn't have much for me to do."

"It's a very good thing for me to know you, and you be my teacher...So now I know that you will lelf use soon, and I think it's really bad between us. But I hope that you have a lot of fun when you gonna travel and take care of yourself, be back soon."

"To be honest, I really disliked you in the beginning of the year but at the same time that was cause I didnt know u...but you did what other student teachers couldn't do, that was steping up, we put you threw alot of crap but hey were lovable...Your mean for leaving us by the way"

"Don't forget me!"

"Don't get arrested stealing Mexican sand for me!"

"Have fun without us...but not too much."

"You have been wonderful and you have been there for me when I needed you...I love the way you teach!"

"Come visit, and maybe I'll come visit you too!"

"Come see us play next year we going to state come support the football team first game in september"

"Smile, pat yourself on the back, be happy, cause your officially cut out to do this stuff, yeah teaching. There are very few adults or teachers that are accepted by these students including myself. It's typical for kids to disrespect and often act in bad manners towards someone that is not the real teacher and has not been around long enough to demand kids but that someone isn't you. Somehow you have really connected w/the students and they don't want you gone. That's a big deal and a huge success"

"I know how kids can be but you've proven that they can all be more than they sometimes make themselves out to be. I thank you for teaching the greatest and most rare skill to these students, which is how to be GREATFUL..they give more effort, want to try harder, and actually care for education due to your guidance. I speak of only some but I have witnessed this myself. It's a good change to see in my classmates and friends."

"Once again, grin, smile, or something cause you have accomplished something many people don't. You have gain, earned, and deserve the respect of young youth b/c you gave it first and returned it when it was ever given - RESPECT."

"Thank you for being here. Thank you for stamping my entry task. Thank you for having a last name that reminds me of my favorite show Seinfeld. LOL :)"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Coming to the end...

Here it comes...the end of student teaching. I have two more weeks...that's it! I can't believe it!

I have realized this week that March is when students really begin to trust you. They begin to buy into the fact that maybe you are here for them, for awhile (or for good). This is both amazing and problematic: I love these relationships I have built, but I have to leave them.

My current plan is to come back to visit and/or volunteer in the classroom during the month of May/June, when I return from my trip. Oh, I'm going on a trip. I'm going to Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica for a month. Exciting! One of my students is making a list of places to see when I visit Oaxaca, because that's where she is from. I love this job. I love the things that it allows me to do, and the connections I get to make with people.

My students this round are people that I will remember all my life, I think. They have impacted me a lot....

More later....

:) Big smiles today!