Tuesday, July 01, 2003

What's Your Name?

Corrie and I started our beach jobs, and we found out that we aren't even going to the same beach. We are both in the same town, but the beaches are blocks apart. Therefore, we never see each other. This was our introduction to Monday.

It didn't get much better, honestly. I am paired with another English teacher and various other "camp counselors," and all together we are in charge of some seventy or eighty children, ages six to fifteen. It seems rather chaotic for me, standing in the background waiting for an assignment (no one told us English teachers what we needed to do), since I have never been to this program before, but the camp counselors must have a good grasp of what is going on. All of them seem to be on their third or fourth year with the program, and, despite the fact that the whole thing is pretty laid-back, with kids running from here to there, stopping at the coffee bar to get mint slushies or pizza, by the end of the morning all of the kids are rounded up and placed securely back on a bus bound for home. And that's all it is--a morning. 8:30 to 11:30 every morning. 18 days. Very do-able.

We played a few English language games when the children arrived, mostly consisting of the children asking the other children "what's your name?" and them responding something like "my name is Gabriella" or "my name is Luca." This, of course, did not end when the game ended, and for the rest of the time on the beach various children came up to me and said "What's your name?" as shy as possible, and then ran away.

Due to my bad planning abilities, we ended up playing the "What's your name?" game rather continuously with each group of kids, and with one group we even played it twice. They know each other's names quite well now, I suppose.

Today was much better, since we planned out games in advance, but I still feel out of place, out of step really, with what is going on. There is no schedule, no real plan. Perhaps the most telling sign of my not-belonging was when I overheard a little boy asking his friend, "Now, I don't get it. We're learning English from a Chinese person?" and he pointed up at me and my brown skin. I laughed. Later I explained in a loud, slow voice that I was from America, and the children made collective "oh, I see!" sounds.

And then they ran off to drink their mint slushies.



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