Monday, September 20, 2010

From High School to College In Just 6 Days

Last week, I found myself waking up at 6 am for the first time in years. I wasn't on my way to catch a flight, either, which is generally the only acceptable reason for my lazy writer's butt to be up that early.

I was going to school.

By 7:30 I was dressed, armed with a backpack full of study supplies, and waiting for the bus. My fellow sufferer, SF, met up with me to ensure our 25 cents was duly plunked down into the slot for Bus #4. We managed to find a seat and bumped our way over the sleepy cobblestone streets until we reached our destination at the end of the line - Colegio Santa Ana.

It's worth noting here that a Colegio is not a college. It's a high school. Colleges are Universidades, and Colegios are high schools. I've studied Spanish for years and still think this is weird.

Anyway, Colegio Santa Ana perches on the side of a large hill overlooking the main city of Cuenca. Real estate developers in the States would kill for the vista off the playground alone.

Me? I would kill for some breakfast. It's a thought that occurs to me more than once as the morning drags on. The regular teachers are all in attendance for the final days of intensive curriculum planning before school starts. I'm attending as an observer, preparing to serve as a substitute for SF's first week of classes while he attends a wedding in the States.

I'm just there to see the place and find my classroom, right? Except instead I am getting a bird's eye view of the inner working of the curriculum administration system at a Cuenca Colegio. It's interesting, as they are re-doing the guides for each grade level, but there is a lot of discussion in circles and I'm praying that this all gets sorted by the time I start subbing on Monday.

Flash forward. Friday night I get a note from SF, who's now in the States, that his school is trying to get a hold of me, that they've got some kind of emergency. By Sunday morning, it's sorted out - the emergency situation was that I've been canned in favor of someone who was able to attend all of the curriculum planning sessions.

Sadness, right? Well, not really. I'm actually relieved to not have to make the long bus ride on Monday morning, especially since I would have just lusted after the panoramic view anyway.

48 hours later, I'm sitting in a windowless room taking notes. Welcome back to University, kiddo!

As I was celebrating my new-found freedom from subbing on Sunday, I got a note about a Profesora looking for someone to cover her maternity leave. The position starts in October, but the catch is being at the first day of class to figure out what's going on and if this is going to work. So I end up perched in the back row, utterly alone as not one of the other students in the class will sit with me. I later find out this isn't social shunning of the gringa - their previous professor penalized them for not sitting up front!

Anyway, the course is called International Relations. Asking if I'm interested in the subject is like checking to see if bears really sleep in the woods.

There's more to the story, naturally, because this is Ecuador and things are never perfectly simple. The way things happen here are twisty and turny and full of the unexpected. One minute you're a sacked sub, and the next minute you're on the road to being a college professor. Asi es Ecuador!


  1. I think all of this is fantastic, and fascinating. I'm far less shocked by it than I would have been before traveling to South America though.

    The important thing for your students to know is that under no circumstances do office hours or any other attempts to intercede into the teacher's life occur during football games. Everything else will be easy.

  2. The only school conflicts may come later in the season when we have some early kick-offs at 10:30, when I'll be in class {long story there, a part of The Visa Wars Part 10 - billion).

    The bigger issue is that my TV connection for college football has game times that are the same as mine. Like his team, Notre Dame, is really worth watching this season compared to Nebraska. They've lost close games to rivals twice now, and I'm just not seeing the awesome coming out of there. All in favor of this Saturday's kickoff being on my channel say AYE!!!!

  3. Good news: this weekend, Notre Dame plays Stanford. I was at Stanford's game on Saturday, where they rolled up 68 points over a Wake Forest team that is about as good as Notre Dame. The game was completely over by halftime, as Stanford had not yet punted and had 41 points. So maybe Andrew Luck and the boys can score early and often in South Bend, and make your friend recognize the futility of watching his Irish.

  4. Bwahahahahaha . . . So I turn around and tell this to him, and he responds with, "So you think Notre Dame will get beat this weekend, do you?" I just look at him. I mean, did I or did I not just present yet another piece of evidence that the Irish are highly stompable this season? He's seen their offense. He knows. This is likely where he has suddenly felt the need to run to the store rather than listen to me laugh about this.

  5. Notre Damn didn't just get beaten, they got manhandled. And it was glorious. 1-3 Irish!

  6. I know! I am not permitted to be gloating about it. And yet . . . .bwahahahaha . . . of course, our Huskers didn't play so well either, but at least they won!