Jan 13, 2012

[ELTeCS_PERU] Happy New year !!!! from TEACH‏

Dear friends

2012 has just started and as TEACH representative I cannot think of a better way of summarizing our mission as a Teachers Association than quoting some words that were pronounced in the World Day of Peace Message on January 1st (block capitals are mine).

"...PEACE is not merely a gift to be received, it is also a task to be undertaken. In order to be true peacemakers, we must EDUCATE ourselves in compassion, solidarity, in BEING ACTIVE within the community and CONCERNED to raise awareness about national and international issues...

...Let us feel a COMMON RESPONSIBILITY toward present and future generations especially in the task of TRAINING them to be people of peace and builders of peace."

Happy New Year from TEACH !!!!

M. of Ed. Maria Luisa Mu
TEACH (Peruvian Association of Teachers of English)
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever." (Gandhi)

Jan 12, 2012

Spanish: Friend to the expat in Peru

Spanish my friend?

I didn’t think so.

It was no fun for me to sit there mute while the conversation swirled around me. For me, then, the extended silences I was forced into meant that people probably did think I was a dummy. Of course when I finally opened my mouth, they would strain to understand what I was saying. Or worse: What I intended to say was completely unintelligible, and all I got was a puzzled look.

“You are a DUMMY,” I said to myself.

“It’s just that most Peruvians are too polite to say that to you.”

The next time, I thought, I’ll just keep my mouth shut and listen in silence. That way I won’t make any mistakes. I’ll just sit there like a bump on a log. No more humiliation.

Meanwhile, my thoughts were complex. I had so many things I wanted to say, so many feelings to express. Unfortunately, the words I had at my command were no better than the babblings of a two year old child.

I was dying to express myself.

Everyday events became an irritating challenge. When the phone rang, I dreaded picking it up. Sometimes I would get in a taxi and wind up in the wrong place. Or I would order food in a restaurant, and the waiter would bring something else. All this happened, I thought, just because they didn’t understand what I said.

These were my feelings a few months after I arrived in Peru. I definitely went into a funk. I would grind my teeth while listening to an incomprehensible conversation. Then, I would retreat to the safety of watching the news in English or an American TV program.

I began to believe that Spanish was my enemy.

Irrational, yes.

But, I wanted to focus my frustration somewhere.

Then one day I woke up. I was shaving and looking myself in the mirror when I thought to myself,

“You’ve got this thing about Spanish all wrong!

Spanish is NOT my enemy, it is my FRIEND.”

Spanish is the key to a new and wonderful kingdom. It allows me to enter a new culture, make new friends, and learn things that were not available to me before.

With this realization, something inside me relaxed. Instead of continually fighting a hostile force, I changed. I was at peace. As a friend, Spanish could come into my life and help me.

I now understood that the stress and anger I felt previously was a barrier to my learning. When those feelings left, I began to open up and make real progress. I started talking to taxi drivers, reading the newspapers, watching television in Spanish. Along the way, six weeks of intensive Spanish classes were a big help.

With this new attitude, I made great progress.

Now people understand what I say, and I understand them. I have made a big effort and, in turn, I have learned a lot. I’ll never be perfect, but now I’m in the game and enjoying my life.

I have used this wisdom in my work. I teach English at a university in Lima. I know that my students feel the same way about English as I used to feel about Spanish. So during the first class, I always write on the board in big letters the words---


You can listen to Larry reading his stories at www.soundcloud.com/larryoflima.