Sun, Suds, and Subsequent Success

Hola amigos!

It has only been 7 days since my last post but that was all it took for me to fall victim to 2/3 of the trifecta, dehydration and severe sunburn. Mom, I know you’re reading this and I can hear you telling me that I should have brought water to the beach/applied sunscreen but rest assured I did both of those things and apparently they were irrelevant. Within minutes of being on the beach this past weekend, my water bottle was practically a concaved plastic mess with its contents at a near boil, and I’m quite positive that SPF 100 couldn’t have saved my skin from the wrath of the sun. On the bright side of things (no pun intended), the sun made for a perfect beach day and a picturesque backdrop for a horseback ride along the water. Aside from our weekend trip to the beach and my nasty encounter with the sun, there were two other monumental moments in my week: learning how to wash laundry, and sitting in on my classes.

From a general modern day standpoint, doing laundry either entails 1 of 2 things:

  1. Leaving your clothes balled up on the floor until they magically disappear and reappear washed and folded in your dresser drawers/hung up in your closet (shout out to all the parents out there)
  2. Emptying the contents of your laundry basket into the washing machine, adding detergent, hitting a button and going on with your day

Photo 1You see, I arrived in Nicaragua somewhat stuck in this mentality so I paid no mind to the small mountain of clothing that was piling up in the corner of my room and this, my friends, was my first and almost fatal mistake here. After about a week and a half of neglecting my laundry duties, I finally mustered the courage to ask my host mom if she would teach me how to wash my clothes and she happily agreed. Moments later, I emerged from my room with my arms full of clothes and my laundry soap strategically placed atop the mountainous pile of fabric. “Wow, bastante ropa,” my host mom said as she tried to control her laughter. Still laughing, she grabbed a pair of pants, slammed them onto the riveted washboard, slathered them in soap, doused them with water and within moments suds were flying, water droplets were airborne, and then BAM, they were clean. “Okay, this can’t be that hard,” I thought to myself as I grabbed a dress from my pile and tried to replicate my host mom’s actions. “I’ve definitely got it now,” I said. This was apparently an inaccurate statement of ability because she grabbed my dress from my hands and yelled “BE AGGRESSIVE, YOU CAN’T HURT THE CLOTHES SO STOP BEING SCARED!” Again, suds were flying, water droplets were airborne and then BAM, the washing was complete. Over the span of an hour, I tried to channel aggression into washing my clothes by slamming the fabric against the washboard and eventually, with aching bones, my mountain had disappeared.*

*Although I would like to think that I accomplished this task all by myself, I need to publicly credit my host mom who occasionally stepped in and picked up my slack while I was hanging some clothes on the line.

Sun and suds aside, this past week involved sitting in on my classes; I am now “Teacher Emily” to two 7th grade classes, an 8th grade class, and a 9th grade class, and from what I’ve been able to observe, we’ve got a long road ahead of us. These observations were further substantiated by the numerous 0’s that I had to put on the tops of entirely filled out tests as I helped correct their final exams. I was left feeling heartbroken for the kids who had tried and just couldn’t get it, but I was also left feeling motivated. Since grading exams, I have been working with my counterpart (the English teacher who I’m partnered with) to create lessons that will get the kids interested and involved. As I sit here and try to come up with lessons that will motivate these frustrated kids, I find myself using some of the tactics/lessons that my high school Spanish teacher used on my class for three years; from creating our own fables to acting out real life scenarios, we were constantly participating and finding our own ways to connect with the language. So, thank you Señora for not only instilling within me a passion for language, but a passion to teach. I aspire to reach these kids in the way you reached me.

Emily Brown ’18