English Winter Camps

I just finished working the winter English camp in Valdivia. The English Opens Doors Program sponsores these annual camps every year for students in dozens of towns throughout Chile. They’re free for the students who sign up, and are meant to be a way for students to experience a week of English language immersion.

During the week, me and the other teachers lead activities, while trying to keep warm in Escuela Espana’s freezing hallways. (Thankfully every classroom has its own woodburning stove.)

It was such a different experience working with students in a non-classroom setting. For all I knew, the students at the camp actually wanted to be there and had an interest in  English, making our jobs that much easier.

Our group at Escuela Espana

One of this year’s projects was creating a lipdub music video to the song “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5. It was a national project that every camp across the country had to do.

So in one afternoon we filmed and uploaded this epic masterpiece. Get ready:

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Lakes, theaters, and torta Alemana

I had to remind my self that I was actually in South America. For all I knew, I could have been near the Black Forest, the flag’s  black, red, and gold colors flying high against a backdrop of wooden, Alpine houses. Frutillar is one German-influenced town in Southern Chile. 

It’s mid-winter break, so most of us teachers have some time off to travel. Frutillar-bound we were. It’s only a 2 hour bus ride south of Valdivia, right on Lake Llanquihue. Everyone raves about this town with its lakeside theater, that attracts everything from ballet performances to jazz concerts. It’s definitely one of my favorite towns in Chile so far.

We could almost see the entire volcano! The most sun we’ve had all week.

TRIVIA TIME! How many Nestle logos can you find in the rest of my photos? Nescafe is omnipresent in Chile. Brian joked that he was almost expecting to see a Nestle mosiac floor when we walked into the theater. (Sadly, there wasn’t one.)

From the veranda.

Veranda ceiling. Amazing

Elise wanted to know where the best German cake in town was. So we went and asked the local municipality…

Asking city hall…

This is it! The best place for dessert in Frutillar, where the locals come and go.

Ridiculous cake creations in this place.

Nestle is the top

Just when this town couldn’t get any more cute, a rainbow appears…

The end.

“When you know the land, you know the country”

It’s not a winter weekend in Southern Chile without 3 things: lakes, active volcanos, and rain. 

The last few weekends I ventured into the Araucania and Los Lagos regions. Along with Los Rios, they make up Chile’s famous “Lakes District”, the gateway to Patagonia and one of Chile’s most beautiful areas.

This is a tribute to the beauty of Southern Chile. From Villarica street art to the rivers of Petrohue. It’s indescribable.

Valdivia

Petrohue. Take a 40 minute bus ride from the town of Puerto Varas and here you are!

Volcano Osorno at Petrohue. Standing here, you’re surrounded by roaring rapids and moving water. It’s powerful.

Villarica is known for its artisan markets.

Colorful wool and knit-wear is the signature of the south.

Sophie, Fred & Maribel. Our Villarica getaway.

Sophie, directing our 1-million point turn. One day, we decided to rent a car and drive to Parque Conguillio, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of Chile’s most famous national parks. However, the rain and snow was no match for our tiny car.

“It’s not always rainbows and butterflies…”

The alarm goes off at 6 am.

Hail is rattling the tin roof, and the Northern Patagonian winds are howling. Getting up is difficult, because I know I will be shivering in my classroom all day. I arrive to school and it’s still dark out.

There are mornings it’s so hard to gather energy to lead 12-year-olds at 8 am. There are the days you’re sick with some kind of stomach flu that came from who knows where. There are days your brain is literally numb from translating and trying to speak Spanish all day.

There are days your body is in so much need of sleep. Realizing your patience is tested every day. But then realizing you have so much more patience than you thought, and that humor dissolves anything. Realizing you don’t always have to smile. But then smiling anyway when your students say, “Hi meeees!” when entering your classroom.

Teaching abroad is an amazing experience.

With my I Medio class (freshmen)

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day from Valdivia, Chile! This morning, Alejandra, one of my 8th graders gave me this card. Adorable. 

Card from Alejandra :)

Being abroad for your country’s main holiday is always interesting. I notice I always have more pride, but at the same time I keep my mood toned down a bit. (I mentioned that it was 4th of July to one of my other classes, and a few kids just went “bluggghh…”)

My 8th grade class brought in completos today. A “completo” is a typical Chilean snack, kind of like our hot dog. Theirs comes with avocado, ketchup, mustard, tomatos, onions and mayonaise. Happy 4th!

Karaoke competitions

Last week, I joined Andrea and Ellie at Fred’s school in Lanco. We were asked to judge their school’s annual karaoke competition. It was a very Katy Perry, David Guetta, and Sum 41-music-filled day. 

The first place winners

With Fred, Ellie, Andrea, a student, and the principal of Liceo Camilo Henríquez.

It was such a warm welcome from the Liceo Camilo Henríquez school. The teachers greeted us and thanked us for making the trip over to Lanco. They expressed such thanks for our work with the English Opens Doors Program.

Beautiful murals line the school’s hallways.

Getting out of Valdivia and seeing a more rural school was a great experience, as they really are two different worlds.

I definitely owe a post about the education world here. I have so many thoughts and observations from these past few months. I’ve been frustrated but also inspired after many conversations and experiences with students and other teachers. It’s helped me see the importance of making education development a priority.

That’s up next.