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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An Expat in the Making

The busy sounds of the street in my small town swarmed around me, entering my ears and my eyes. All of us characters in this scene were bathed in the orange-yellow glow of the streetlights. The cobbled road, at some times paved, other times patched, wove around me, toward and away from me all at the once. The swimmers of these avenues blazed by on their 100cc motorpeds, the cars barged through as if no one was there. Somehow they always managed to avoid each other. I saw it—a gasp there, an exhale there—the scene breathed like the entity it is. The late hour didn’t discourage the other figures from playing their roles in this scene, the sidewalks were well traveled and the streets busy. Shops were open—come in, come in!! It was late, and I was tired from a day of work, so after playing my role in the night, I left the stage and headed home.

But what is home? Cause it sure feels like this place and these people are becoming my new home. Is “home” just a place that shifts around, depending on our experiences? Is it that people that make the place special? Cause I know of a lot of special people in certain cities in the U.S., but there’s a lot of special people here in Zapotlanejo.

I guess you don’t feel like an outsider when you’re home. Or at least, as much. Or maybe you do feel like an outsider because you’re estranged from your ‘home.’ I don’t know. I still feel like an outsider here. The language barrier is the most noticeable aspect of this estrangement…but I really like living here, and with these people. Everyone should try it. Go somewhere new and different and fall in love with the place. Or at least with the local form of alcohol (cause let’s be honest, no matter where they are, humans the world over since time immemorial have discovered ways of creating the stuff).

I guess I was ready to go, ready to move, ready to be a part of the world in one of its small corners, in a small way that means something to me.

A friend recently asked me if I’ve gotten a different perspective on life yet since I’ve been out of SB. I guess you could say: yes, definitely. Santa Barbara can be a bubble (for those of you Santa Barbarians: I’m saying it can be, not that it has to be). And I felt as much while I was still there, but it doesn’t sink into the reality of your life until you leave. I’ve just been reminded how it’s a small town, and how there’s so much more going on out in the world; and while in Santa Barbara for an extended period of time, it’s easy to forget about that. Since being here in Mexico, and starting work at this school, I’ve been all the more reminded of what I’ve wanted to do for so long, and I feel this is the first (big) step in a series that will take me where I’m headed, wherever that is. You gotta jump off and dive-in sometime, and I feel as though I have finally done that. I have know idea where this will ultimately lead me, but I like where it’s going. I know that much. And I know it’ll be a windy road, unpredictable, adventurous, fun, perilous—but that is exactly why it must be taken. I’ve got no other choice. This is my one shot.

And, I’m beginning to get the feeling that it will probably be a long time before I return. Yes, OF COURSE I’ll visit and stuff, but I’m talking about moving back. I’ve got the feeling that I’ll come back for grad school. Yes—there, I said it. Grad school. I know I want to go now. But I need more time to figure out things first, and I think that can only happen while I’m “away.” Like I was trying to articulate above, living abroad is just something I’ve got to do right now.

I misspelled “pageant” in my last post. That irritates me.

I mentioned getting a job at a school…well I have and it’s been going really well. It’s a private language school, and the students I work with range from high-schoolers to working professionals in their 30s & 40s. Class sizes range from 2-7 people at most, so it’s a pretty intimate working environment with with the students. There is also a computer lab which supplements their learning with a surprisingly comprehensive language program. I’m starting off teaching conversational English classes, which are aimed at getting the more advanced students to practice the English they’ve learned, using everyday topics. I only teach a couple hours a day, but I spend my rest of the time at the school working on a manual for the teachers to use to teach the various grammar topics, which I will start teaching in about a week or two. It’s been a bit of a learning process for me, as I’ve had to brush up on and re-learn a lot about grammar and the English language. I really like working with the students, and I get along great with the other teachers. While there are other teachers from the U.S. there, I’m definitely the “whitest” one in the sense that I am the one most recently arrived from the States. As such, they’re in the process of coming up with a nickname for me.

I’ve got another entry in the works that I’ll probably post up before the week is finished. It’s about the family, fiestas calling out into the night (every night this month), and the super-ancient pre-Columbian culture site I visited. Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. Chris, la capacidad que poseen para tejer las palabras a los pensamientos que fascina y la intriga del lector no deja ninguna duda en este mente de los lectores que alguna forma de carrera de escritor es en su futuro talento! Es cierto que algunos serán capaces de detectar errores (3 en "un expatriado en marcha") pero bueno, yo sé que le encantaría ser su editor y ahorrar la angustia de "esto me irrita", más adelante. Trabaja demasiado barato! Muy contento de oír que usted está disfrutando de su posición de enseñanza, en última instancia, resultará muy gratificante en muchos sentidos. Parece que usted puede tener más tiempo para estar en el Cyber Café, por favor, puesto tan a menudo como usted puede encontrar el tiempo!
    el tío Juan