Saturday, March 18, 2006

"Slorntche" for St. Patty's Day

So Brandy and I decided to go out to one of the local bars last night to do a little celebrating for St. Patrick's Day. Of course, we were speaking English to each other and we noticed another man at the bar speaking English. He soon started looking over at us, I knew that he noticed it as well. Pretty soon, he came over and said, "Sorry to interrupt, but I heard you speaking English. I'm an Irishman." What?!! Yeah. There was an Irishman in our tiny little bar in Rakitovo on St. Patty's Day. It was like being in an alternate universe. I was drinking some green stuff in honor of the day and Brandy was having some beer (unfortunately not green), so the Irishman just kept sending more over. And "Slorntche" is like Cheers in Gaelic. Yeah. Weird. Nice guy. Cool accent. By the way, I think my Bulgarian gets better with a little alcohol in the system. I had a fairly interesting conversation with some Bulgarians around me, and I think I've made some new acquaintances. It's all about integration, right? Brandy had a good time, too. And all we could talk about was how we couldn't wait to tell people about our awesome, coincidental evening.
This week has been a pretty quiet one. Ever since we received notification on our SPA grant, I haven't really been doing much - just tying up loose ends with that application and preparing for my English and Spanish classes. I'm not feeling too bad about not doing much at the moment. I know that, with the warmer weather, will come more things to keep me involved. The Educational Center project itself will probably keep me pretty busy. Yanko says he would like me to focus on that while the others worry about meetings with parents, teachers, etc. Still, I feel like I should be doing more.
My English class on Monday was pretty disappointing, and I lost my cool. I've mentioned before my frustrations with that class. I walked in and there were about 25 kids in the clubhouse. I couldn't believe it. That's the most I've ever had at one time, and I could barely step by them to get to the front of the room. I knew right off that bat that it wasn't going to be a good hour. I shouldn't think like that though - the whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing has truth to it, and it'll bite you if you're not careful. Yeah. So I started teaching the class (on adjectives) by having them repeat the words after me. They were pretty good for that part, but then they lost interest. It's really hard for Bulgarians to read English. Not only is the alphabet different, but then there's the crazy way we spell. So yeah, I'm pretty sure they couldn't understand how to say the words after we repeated them a few times (there were about thirty) and most of them just gave up and decided to talk to each other. I had some pictures I was trying to get them to describe in English, but that wasn't working, so I decided to bring up some of the noisier students to have the others describe them. They liked that, but it wasn't fulfilling the point because they were still talking about them in Bulgarian. I finally said that I didn't want to hear Bulgarian. One girl kept going on in Bulgarian (although she wasn't the only one), and I finally said I wanted her to say it in English. "Oh, I don't know." She said - in Bulgarian. "Then don't say anything," I told her pretty harshly. Finally, after a few more minutes of kids answering me in Bulgarian and saying they didn't know how to say the words I'd just taught them in English - plus some basically just ignoring me and talking amongst themselves, I told them "Ciao" - ten minutes before the end of class. I know the frustration was apparent in my voice as I just said, "Bye" over and over again. They could tell I'd had enough and I wanted them to get out. I could go on and on about all the little things that happened during that period that made me mad, but I'm sure you don't want to hear it, and I shouldn't dwell on it. Fortunately, I have people here to vent to. I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. I think I have to have someone else in there disciplining that class, or I need to tell them they have to come another day to cut down the size. My grandma just sent me an e-mail suggesting I have them make up their own rules for English class and their own punishments if they don't follow their rules. I think that's an excellent idea, and I may try that on Monday. My other classes were pretty great. They're small enough to discourage distractions. Plus, I re-wrote the adjectives using Bulgarian pronunciations, and they were able to be a little more interactive by using the English words I was hoping for. I had them describe me, and the girl I'd spoken to harshly before said, "Sometimes, you are angry." I could only laugh and agree that she was right. I can't say I mind too much what you say about me, little girl, as long as you say it to my face and in English. This "teaching English trial" is a good experience for me though. It just reassures me that I don't have the patience, the talent, or the desire to be a teacher.

1 comment:

Fuzzmaster said...

Man, I got a ton of reading ahead of me. That's what I get for not checking up on your site more often... From the brief scan though it looks like you're still surviving and possibly even enjoying yourself over there (You know better than that!) Hehehe...