So the striking continues this week, and unfortunately it is not as peaceful this time around as it has been over the last month. At this point I should reassure everyone that I am 100% safe, that my house might as well be a WWII-era fortress, and that I am staying far away from any rioting/blockades. Yes I said rioting and blockades. Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my room (which looks out over the street), and I heard all of the yelling and horn-honking that usually means a parade of demonstrators is headed down the street. So I went to my window and found a bunch of kids (I say kids but I don't know how old they were, looked like maybe late high school through college aged) terrorizing their way up the block. They were knocking over garbage bins (of course it was trash day yesterday), and throwing garbage everywhere, banging on the windows and doors of the cars that they forced to stop, and stealing fruits and vegetables from the market across from my house and throwing them at cars, people, and each other. This only lasted for about five to ten minutes as they moved on down the road, and I figured it was just a bunch of dumbass kids taking advantage of the fact that there was already disorder in the air from the "real" strikers, just causing trouble to be causing trouble. But then evening came, and people were forming human blockades to stop traffic, the trams, and the trains. Then a car got set on fire. Rocks were thrown through the windows of one of my schools, and the police ended up having to quell that same group of young people that had been on my street as they tried to start a riot in the park just outside the school right as the kids were being released from classes. And it just ticks me off, you know? I sound like my grandfather right now, but most of these young punks don't even know what the strike is about, and even if they do, they've got their whole working lives ahead of them to change things for the better. Why get violent about the retirement age when you're only 20 years old? Why put my kids and my co-workers in danger like that? SO not cool. Normally one of my groups of kids walks a couple of blocks to the city pool on Tuesday afternoons after I have them, and they were all really upset today because they couldn't go-- the teacher didn't want to risk taking them outside. And as I was leaving said school just about an hour ago, there were probably 20 police officers and/or vehicles stationed all around the little park outside (the same one where there were problems yesterday), and the area was rapidly filling with the same (idiot) crowd as yesterday. So to reiterate, I'm completely safe, but completely frustrated.
But despite all the social unrest, I've had a really excellent week so far. I've had a lot of fun getting to know my kids and getting to actually do some work with them. I've mostly been doing introductory stuff, telling them where I am from, etc., and it turns out that "Indiana" sounds an awful lot like "India" to them. Yes, my kids think I am Indian.We've also been talking about Halloween, or as they call it, "Allo-een." The teachers I've been working with so far seem to be ok, but some of them are a little hard to read. Despite the fact that each one is the school's designated English teacher, most of them speak, at best, at a rudimentary level, and they do most of their teaching from cassettes or CD's. I can tell they get a little nervous/intimidated about teaching English in front of me. But while some of them actively seek my help with pronunciation, vocab, etc., others remain rather standoffish and tend to hyper-assert their authority over both the kids and me. I actually had a teacher correct me yesterday when I said "tomato." She wanted me to pronounce it "to-mah-to." Fortunately we didn't get into potatoes and potahtoes, or we'd have had to call the whole thing off :-).
I also think that I got a little heartwarming nod from the teaching gods last night. I was in my room working on lesson plans, and trying to figure out what I could tell my kids about where I am from. I was flipping through an old issue of Indianapolis Monthly magazine that I had just haphazardly thrown into my suitcase at the last minute. It was the January 2010 issue, and apparently I never finished reading it, because about 2/3 of the way through, lost in thoughts about home and teaching, I suddenly find a double page spread of Jim and Joy Robbins smiling up at me. Now, to those of you out there in New Castle who are reading this, I really don't need to say much more, but for the rest of you, I'll tell you that Jim and Joy are two of the most incredible and influential people I ever had the privilege to be educated by. They were both teachers at my high school for many, many years, and I had the opportunity to have both of them during my sophomore year, which was also their last year before they retired. Jim taught speech (as in the public speaking kind), and Joy taught Home Ec (I had her for "Intro to Foods" and I worked as her assistant during my study hall). And the two of them, just... wow. Amazing people, amazing educators. And they were in Indy Monthly because they also ran an image consulting company that worked primarily with Miss America contestants on their interview skills, and have had several winners in the last 20 years. But it was just crazy to suddenly see them smiling up at me from the page, like they were telling me it was going to be alright, haha. And I never even knew that article was there. It was especially touching, too, because Joy passed away shortly after the article was published. So it was a nice warm-fuzzy for my evening.
And one last thing before I ramble on for too long. About my hair. It's gross. I did the baking soda/ACV wash for the second time last night and... ick. I let my hair air-dry and it dried kind of stiff, and then I brushed it out and it felt like the end of the day after you've had a lot of product in your hair, you know, kind of tacky and waxy. But I was told to expect this, and told that it gets better, so I remain determined to stick it out for at least a month. I'll post a progress pic later this week.
That's all! Peace and love, my friends!