Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dr. Jekyll + Mr. Hyde.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 2:05pm, Favela de Complexo do Alemao.
One classroom, two Professora Verdugos.
Subject? English.
Students’ ages? 9 – 61, of course.
You can guess how the rest panned out.

When we bid adieu last Friday to the only other volunteer (aka English teacher) in the favela, we should have known we were in trouble. Despite our lack of experience Diana and I eagerly agreed to pick up his English classes in addition to our Sustainable Jewelry sessions. Fast forward to today, and somewhere between Wanderson leaping across the room barefoot singing Justin Beiber, Juliana spreading her entire makeup collection on her desk, 61-year old Alice trying to give us her 5-generations of family history, and 14 year old Aline arguing on her smartphone with her 28 yr old boyfriend - all while trying to teach - I realized that the honeymoon was over.

diana trying to man the fort.

abandoned desks, abandoned havaianas.

new professors in charge.

We were not even half-way into the two hour favela-based English class, only describable as mayhem, and I was starting to question the way things were going. Had I over idolized the students? Had I too quickly given them too much credit? Were they truly motivated after all? Do they only care about JB (refer to previous post)?

On the length of the entire commute, from the 484 bus ride to Bonsucesso stop, then past 5 teleferico stops deep into the favela, Diana and I were organizing and structuring our lesson plan for the day. Both of us have a fear of teaching, especially language. Heck, until recently we both even had a fear of kids (exception: stinky little Parisian princess). So to combat these “fears” we thought we would prepare, and prepare we did. Lesson plans, games, class outlines, print-outs, stickers, rewards (aka American candy)….you name it, we had prepared it and brought it with us to class today. The result? Refer to the aforementioned situation.

By the end of what I can only call two hours of torture, Diana and I got to the “Just eff it” stage. Before I knew it we were all eating (undeserved) american candy bars, singing Adele at the top of our lungs and getting makeovers from Juliana. Class dismissed.
eff it, we're singing.
eff it, give me a makeover. blue eyeshadow and all.
On the bus ride home Diana and I, both feeling quite defeated, barely spoke. All I could think about was the long run down the Ipanema coast that I was going to take when I got home. Since I’ve been in Brazil I’ve found a new [sort of] love for running and find it’s the best way to clear my mind after a crazy favela day, get some perspective on life, and just take in the beautiful views (oh yeah and help me train for the marathon that I was somehow coaxed into running this September in Berlin). Anyways, got home, changed as fast as possible and within minutes was out the door running. About 15 minutes in when I started to feel more relaxed and quite invigorated when a bus driving by caught my eye...."JULIANA BUS" it read. I stopped in my tracks, almost tripped myself and the jogger on my heels to take a bberry pic of the sign for Juliana. "OMG! She would LOVE it!" I thought. Whoa. Guess I take back all of those words I said, ok thought, over the past few hours. 

My passion to snap a pointless pic of a dirty bus (aka my new and undying love for the students) got me thinking about them and their behavior. How could the situations make for such polar opposite outcomes? How could such little angels so quickly convert into little misbehaved devils? So strange it all was....same classroom, same teachers, same students, totally different behavior. They truly are amazing and driven little creatures. REMARKABLE how their behavior can change so much from one subject to the next. Then I started to see that it all boils down to passion. They [kind of sadly] don't have much interest in learning a foreign language, but now it was even more apparent to me that they [super amazingly] are MADLY PASSIONATE ABOUT FASHION. Their tremendous variation in attitude between today and yesterday verified that to the power of 1000. Guess that just means we have to keep working as hard as we can do to whatever we can to help them realize these big fashionista dreams. And that I won't waste another day (or bag of candy) helping them in any other way.

Julie [+diana]

P.S. but no regrets from today, us Verdugos are famous for having to learn the hardway anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment