Saturday, January 16, 2010

Teaching: Week One

This week has gone so quickly, I haven´t had much time to reflect. On Monday, we (the team of teaching volunteers) administered a placement exam to local English teachers in Cusco, and on Tuesday we taught our first classes.

I´ve been assigned to the advanced class, along with another volunteer named Christine. Our students are fairly comfortable speaking in English, so we´re conducting the class as an immersion course, all English, all the time (which works out well for us!). The students´knowledge of grammar is quite advanced, enough even to challenge me, but their pronunciation and listening skills are poor. We have quite a lot to cover in the remaining five weeks!

As a team, our schedule is pretty full. We catch a taxi from Pisac to Cusco at 7:30 each morning, teach from 8:30 to 12:30, grab a quick lunch, and spend the afternoon planning the next day´s class. We usually return to Pisac around six, in time for dinner, laundry and last-minute class prep before bedtime. It´s exhausting, but we are having so much fun with our students and with each other.

On Wednesday evening, I experienced my first pub quiz, apparently a British tradition. Two people act as quizmasters, and the rest of the group divides into teams to answer random trivia questions. From the winning team, two people are chosen to be the next week´s quizmasters. Somehow, I got roped into this, along with fellow volunteer Henry, so perhaps later this week I´ll post our pub quiz questions!

Yesterday, we took a 30-minute bus ride to Calca, where we switched to a taxi for a perilous trek to the thermal baths. As the car swerved around rockslides and farm equipment and hugged the edge of the cliff, we realized that, in two weeks, our standards of personal safety had slipped. (This was especially true for the three volunteers riding in the trunk.) Fortunately, the suspicious-looking brown water of the baths turned out to be quite restorative. We were all silky-skinned and relaxed when we came home a few hours later.

Everyone stayed in Pisac last night, including the volunteers from Cusco, so we finally had an excuse to eat dinner at Ulrike´s, a restaurant on Pisac´s main square that´s famous on the hiker circuit. After skipping dinner at home (a strange berry soup the consistency of warm Jell-0), I had quinoa soup and a stuffed avocado -- plus, joy of all joys, an actual chocolate chip cookie. Yum.

This morning, we all got up at 5:15 for a hike to the Pisac ruins, which are said to rival Machu Picchu (and they´re right in my backyard). Why so early? It´s comparitively expensive to visit the various ruins in Peru, but if you go before the ticketseller arrives (at 7 a.m.), you can walk in for free. So we did, and we had an entire Inca ruin to ourselves for several hours, as we watched the fog slowly lift from the surrounding mountains. It was physically quite difficult, especially in the thin air, but it was worth it. (I´ll post photos soon.)

Later today, we are going back into Cusco to celebrate another volunteer´s birthday. My social calendar is quite full already: Wednesday´s pub quiz, perhaps the Nasca lines next weekend, and a big festival in Puno the first weekend in February. There´s so much in Peru to see and do. When I get home, I´m going to need a vacation!

1 comment:

  1. Ash, sounds like a wonderful time! Can't wait to see all of your pictures and hear more stories when you return!

    Take care,