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05/24/2012

My Frustrations :(

Hello everyone!!

I want to post some more about living and working here in the Dominican Republic, specifically about my frustrations. I think it is important for people to realize life is far from perfect here, but in dealing with the frustrations and problems, I have truly become a stronger person. Life is great here, but you sometimes have to deal with things here that you would not normally have to deal with in the United States.

For example, my neighbors drive me crazy sometimes!! One lady is absolutely amazing because she cleans my house and washes my clothes and I can trust her with anything. But other of my neighbors like to take things from me without asking and sometimes can be very rude. For example, a couple of the little kids will come up to me and ask me for money. That is my biggest pet peeve here because everyone thinks you are rich! And yes I live comfortably, but I am also working forty hours a week trying to support myself. If I was rich I would be laying on the beach for months on end and not working or doing anything. That is not the case. I hope by the end of my time here I can get my neighbors to understand that I am not another "Rich American," but I am here to work, make a living, and really be an independent person.

Second, things are done in an extremely slow manner here especially working for the Dominican government. Everything is a process...a process that takes months and months and by the end you just want to scream! This is my problem with trying to get a new bed. So, I am the tallest person in my program, a little over six feet tall to be exact. Anyways, all the other people in my program have a full size bed. Me...I have a twin size bed. A tiny little bed. At first it was fine, but now I am starting to have back problems and I really am not sleeping well, which is not fun having early morning classes and night classes. Therefore, I have been talking with my supervisor to get me a new bed. He completely agrees with me, however, I have been asking for over a month now, and I still have not received the bed. I know it is not the biggest deal in the world, at least I have a bed to sleep on, but it really is not fun waking up early every morning after having class at night and trying to run on basically no sleep. I find myself so much more crabby and that is not fair to my students! I really hope this problem gets worked out soon.

Lastly, since my classes first started I have been asking my supervisor for a new radio for the classroom. Ours does not work and we need it to play the audio CDs that go along with the book. Anyways, do I have the radio yet? Of course not! It has been about five months now! It is not only helpful for me so I do not have to talk all the time, but my students need to hear other people speaking English so they can hear different voices and pronunciation. I am really hoping it comes soon because it is very beneficial for my students.

Anyways, in spite of all the problems, the positives surely outweigh the negatives. Sometimes you just get to the point of a mental breakdown with things that go on here, but you just need to step back and take a deep breath.

Additionally, I just want to clarify my supervisor is amazing!!! He is working under the program too so he helps me so much to try and get everything taken care of, but there is only so much he can do. Also, he rarely has time to come visit my center because he is pretty much in charge of soo many different centers across the country. He tries as best he can, but there is only so much time that he has. Therefore, I was informed about a week ago that I will be getting a new supervisor. I am a little sad because my supervisor is amazing, but hopefully the new guy will be just as good!

Okay look for pictures soon! I promise they are going to be worth the wait. If you have any questions or comments for me please leave them. I will do my best to respond!!

Take Care,

Tessa

Carnaval, Samana Santa, and Mi Cumple (My Birthday) :)

Hello hello!! Sorry it has taken so long to post again, but things get very crazy and hectic here! Anyways I left off telling you about my vacation in Samana. Now I want to tell you about my trip to La Vega for Carnaval and Samana Santa where my friend and I went to the beach of Puerto Plata!

Carnaval was great. I will try and post pictures soon so you can see how crazy it is. We took a bus from my friend's town to La Vega, which is about 45 minutes south of Santiago. We spent all day there walking around, looking at all the costumes, eating, etc... Carnaval is basically one big party where people dress up and walk around the streets in a parade like fashion. The only downside is the people in the parade dressed in the costumes have these huge balloon-like objects that are extremely heavy and they walk around hitting people with them. Needless to say, you have not really experienced  Carnaval unless you walk away from there with at least five giant bruises on your legs and butt. We probably left Carnaval around 9 pm at night and we traveled by bus back to my friend's town. However, on the way home, we stopped at an outdoor disco or nightclub and spent almost two hours there even though we were extremely exhausted. A great adventure I must say!

Samana Santa was another fun vacation. My friend and I went to Puerto Plata, a beach on the northern coast. Samana Santa here is known as "Holy Week." All schools, works, etc... are closed for that Thursday and Friday during the week, so we got a long vacation. We stayed at an all inclusive resort in Puerto Plata and it was absolutely amazing. I definitely needed the time to relax on the beach especially after working so hard eight hours a day in the classroom!! I love teaching so much, but our days off where we can travel to the beaches is definitely a perk of this job.

Finally, I want to tell you about my birthday! My birthday was at the end of April; the 29th to be exact. And just so you can see how amazing my students are...they threw me a HUGE birthday party at my house!! They collected money from all the classes and we went shopping for all the food, drinks, and decorations. The party was on Saturday, April 28th and lasted until my birthday, the early morning of the 29th. On Saturday, my students came to my house, cooked all the food, decorated my entire house, and did everything to prepare for the party later that evening. I think spending the day with my students was just as fun as the actual party at night. There were probably more than fifty people at my house and it was so great to spend my special day with my amazing students. I really do not know what I would do without them!! They make my experience here 100 times better!

That is all for now. My next blog will describe some frustrations I am having with my program. But nothing too horrible because like I said, I LOVE my life here!!  

04/21/2012

Chapter closing, a new one beginning.


  

My dear, dear friends, what can I say? Wow! That's all folks. It's done. I turned in grades on Thursday. Now, I'm resting for the rest of the weekend. Starting Monday begins a piece of a new chapter in my life, so I need to take a break!

Three months came and went, but at the same time it seemed as if three months were really six! Of course, all of the pictures and video may look like we just had a ton of fun. Well, we did! However, the students and I worked our butts off. I truly put in probably 40 hours of work every week even though I got compensated for 20. I had 20 hours of physically standing in a classroom and I was the only teacher with three writing classes. Believe me, that's a lot of work! Besides lesson planning and grading, another CIEE participant and I had to go to additional workshops and random meetings during the hours we did not have class . They were resourceful, but very time consuming. I'm sure you can see how I worked over 40 hours! We didn't know about any of this until the week class started.

Despite the things I may agree with or not agree with, the experience was priceless. Of course, all life lessons are. You learn and you live, and then move on. The Dominican Republic, yes, is a beautiful country. I did have to get use to using a switch for hot water, constant power outages, cell phone service differences, the "carros publicos", and etc. I just mention these things, because typically these are things people don't think about and it saddens me to see how people take what they have for granite. The life we have, especially, in the U.S. is a blessed one

For the teachers, if you're dream career is to be a professor, this opportunity is perfect for that. You create your lesson plans and you go in and teach! Whatever your teaching style may be, you can definitely do it. As you maybe able to see, for me, I am real hands on and personal. I dedicated a lot of one-on-one time to my students. I just remember when I was school I hated feeling like I never understood what to do and that no one cared. I said if I was ever a teacher, I would try to be different. Therefore, that's what I did! The students were awesome, receptive, and a pleasure to teach.

I'm glad that I had this opportunity. I have to go back to the U.S. for a month, but I'm not leaving the Dominican Republic yet. I hope my blog gave you an insight on teaching at PUCMM. Love you all! May God bless!

04/16/2012

Don't Cry! (Part 2)

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04/12/2012

Don´t cry!


I held back the tears! Yes, today is the last day for my Tuesday and Thursday classes. The 10am class took their last test, handed in their argumentative essay, gave their presentations, and ended with a good ´ole´ potuck!

I still have two more classes for today. My stomach is already full, but I will continue to eat as much as possible and enjoy our last day as a class together.

 

WHEN WE WANT TO BE GOOD

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WHEN WE WANT TO BE CRAZY!

 

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THE STUDENTS TAKING THEIR LAST TEST

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04/10/2012

It's over...and???

Even though the last day of class is next Monday, students are still busy with school activities! They are currently promoting being aganist bullying.

The semester may be ending but most of the students still go to school during the summer. Their summer semester starts May 12th.

My students are preparing to be on camera as we approach our last day of class.

More pictures/video coming soon!

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04/02/2012

The semester is ending!

As you already know...I have been busy, busy, busy. Espero que hay una palabra que pueda expresar "extremely busy", pero creo que no hay. Pues, "muy ocupado/a" ....pero sin embargo... "extremely busy" y "muy ocupada" aun no son iguales con lo que siento!

The semester is ending, pretty much next week. It's amazing how it's almost done. I'm happy yet sad. However, with the semester ending that will allow me more time to make the videos that I have been shooting so you can see what it looks like here and what I have been up to.

The picture I attached is of the university. This where I am on a regular basis.

I can't chat too long. Off to PUCMM I go. I'm trying to wrap up grades, focus on helping the students with their arugmentative essay and their final speeches! A lot to do and little time to do it! With that being said, " Adios!" I have to go! Muah!

Pucmm

03/26/2012

Beautiful Samana

About three weeks ago my friend Kayla and I decided to take a trip to the eastern peninsula called Samana. Kayla is a friend from my program who teaches English in a city called Peralvillo, which is about an hour or so directly north of Santo Domingo in the mountains. So, we decided to meet up in the capital and take a two and a half hour bus ride to Samana. 

Samana is absolutely gorgeous. When we arrived there we took a taxi to find a hotel. The thing about Samana is that all the hotels and nice beaches are 45 minutes away from the actual city in a place called Las Terrenas. We ended up staying in a nice hotel that was not too expensive right in the center of Las Terrenas. We had a nice dinner at a restaurant right on the beach. It was very beautiful and I finally got to eat pizza (I legitimately miss pizza soooo much). I actually think every meal I had that weekend was pizza!!

Anyways...the next morning we were scheduled for a whale-watching tour all the way in Samana. So we had to travel 45 minutes again to the city to get on our boat. We thought that leaving at 8:30 am would be enough time to make our 9:30 am tour. Oh how wrong we were! If you know anything about Dominican transportation, especially in "guaguas" (busses), you know that it can take twice as long as expected. We ended up arriving at about 9:50 am and completely missed our tour. The entire bus ride to Samana we would stop every two feet to either pick up a new person, or drop somebody off. Additionally, our "chofer" (driver) would randomly stop at the small towns along the way to talk with random friends or family members. Needless to say, Kayla and I were about at our wits end by the time we arrived in Samana.

We were also extremely frustrated because the main reason we decided to go to Samana was to go whale watching because January until March or so is the prime season. Therefore, if we weren't able to do a tour we would miss our chance for the year. But, just as we got off the bus, a guy in his motorcycle pulled up and told us he could bring us to a different tour. We had nothing to lose at that point, so we both jumped on his motorcycle and took about a 20 minute ride up and down many hills in Samana. At first we were a little nervous because we had no idea what to expect, but we finally arrived at a port with a bunch of other tourists (not that we are tourists, but you know what I mean), so we felt more comfortable! In the end, we ended up seeing some whales up close (I will upload pictures) and after they took us to this isolated beach that was absolutely amazing. All in all, our nightmare of a trip turned into a really good time. One thing we learned here is sometimes you just cannot plan. You can only go with the flow and something always works out (or at least most of the time).

The next day Kayla and I soaked up the sun at a beach near our hotel in Las Terrenas, ate more pizza, and took the bus back to the capital. Overall, it was an amazing vacation and I am so happy we went. It is hard sometimes staying in your town every single weekend because it does get boring. That is why I love having these little trips to look forward to especially when there are so many different places to see and so many different things to do here in the D.R.

Look for my next post...it will be all about Carnaval in La Vega! We had sooooo much fun.

Keep reading and post comments if you want! I'd love to answer any questions you have or hear your impressions of everything.

 

Demasiado Tiempo!!

Hello Everyone!!

I am so sorry it has been a while since I have blogged last. The last thing I was working on was trying to get all my pictures uploaded but that has not been working. So keep an eye out for my pictures in the next week or so because I am determined to get it figured out!

Anyways...so much to tell you! Life here now is....PERFECT. I am finally adjusted and comfortable with everything and I have made some really good friends. A couple weeks ago I was very homesick especially when I was talking to family and friends from back home. It is hard jumping into an experience like this and expecting to make friends right away especially with Dominicans who are kind of cautious of you or only want to be friends with you to benefit themselves. But...I can proudly say I have made some amazing friends that will be in my life forever!!

My last post I talked about potentially cleaning up a park here in my city. As of right now, it looks like it is going to be way too expensive. I am still looking into details, but this project may be a lot bigger than I was thinking. I will keep you all updated on it as I figure out more.

Additionally, I am in LOVE with my students and classes! I never thought I was going to love teaching as much as I do and it primarily has to do with the students. To this day they always bring me candy, food, and presents. They always do things to show they care about me and are looking out for me. I had a little bit of a scare the other weekend. I was in my room and it was about 1:30 am. I couldn't sleep so I was up playing games on my computer. The next thing I know I turned my head to look at the window in my bedroom and someone had opened it from the outside and was peeking in at me. I was definitely a little freaked out to say the least. I immediately jumped out of my bed, slammed the window shut, and called anyone I could in my phone book. To make a long story short, my students to this day are still worried about me and tell me things to do if that ever happens again. Also, I don't want to freak anyone out with my story, but I really think it was just one of my neighbors being creepy wondering why I was awake so late into the night. Needless to say in the next week or so my land lady is going to put more security around the windows of my house to make sure nothing like that happens again. In all honesty I feel extremely safe living in my town. My neighbors and students all look out for me and make sure I am okay. Therefore, I think the person looking in my window was just joking around or being weird because yes, in the small town that I live, there are some strange people.

Another favorite part of life here so far has been traveling! I love love love to travel on the weekends  especially because I am only about an hour away from Santo Domingo, the capital. Therefore, when I go to the capital I can travel to just about any place in a decent amout of time. By no means am I in the middle of nowhere. I have the capacity to do a quick day trip to the capital if need be. My next blog I will share more about my travels and hopefully the pictures will be uploaded!

That is all for now. I promise I will be better about writing. My goal this week is to catch up on all my posts and hopefully get all the photos uploaded. It is going to be a very busy week for me with that, and my students have a huge exam on Friday because we are almost finished with our first book! I am sooo proud of them and they are really starting to understand better. Lots of them are greatly improving their quiz grades as well.

More to come....

 

03/09/2012

¡Saludos de La República Dominicana!

Hi everyone!

I do apologize for taking a while to post, teaching down here keeps you extremely, and I mean extremely, occupied! I have a few photos from the university and from the recent Carnival celebration, but for someone reason or the other, even posting my videos on here is very difficult! There is so much I want to share with you! Also, because of my media background, I would rather show you in videos and pictures than in words. However, I have 20 hours of classes, but if you have ever taught before, you know that being a teacher does not stop in the classroom. Currently, I am teaching Advanced Conversation and Academic Writing. I assume you may already know which may be a little more challenging. If you guess Academic Writing, you are correct! I hope you future Teach DR teachers are brushing up on your English grammar. As far as language barriers....amigos, no se preocupen! The students speak English very well. In fact, there are many people here that speak English well and it seems like everyone wants to learn! If you want to learn Spanish, be very careful not to fall in the English hole! I'll try and keep it short and simple today. Hopefully, my pictures and videos will load! I got a shot of my house mom cooking hamburgers! It was such a special moment, because in this house hold they don't really eat burgers and fries. What an experience!

Pues....este es todo que tengo ahora. Gracias por leer mi blog y todas de mis experiencias. No se pueden perder de todos los blogs que vienen. Saludos!

~ Star

 

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