Saturday, December 17, 2016

Despedida x 6

Despedida means farewell so to give someone their despedida is to give them their farewell party. I have been the recipient of a few "farewell parties" along the way. Some brought to many tears to my eyes such as Guatemala where 120 or so students excitedly lined up in front of me so they could individually give me a hug good-bye. There have been dinners with teachers and drinks with "fun" teachers and small trinkets and gifts of appreciation from smiling faces. The despedida is one of the best and worst days of contract work in a foreign country.

What was so special about my despedida? Well it was 3 day of tacos, tortillas, tamales, cakes, cookies, soda of every possible flavor and the tradition of getting your face pushed into a cake, 2 times no less. All done by what could only be described as excited and appreciative students.

Gilberto, Monste, Luz, Paula, Carmen and Me
The precursor was a surprise Tamale breakfast on the final Monday morning after class. A tamale is a made of corn dough, which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. The wrapping is discarded before eating and it can be stuffed with anything but vegetables, chicken or even pineapples are the most common. The leaf keeps it hot for quite a long time and they are delicious. Carmen made them and it took her 4 hours from start to finish. Do not let the look fool you, they are tremendous especially with a hot cup of coffee. It is also a "code" if a Mexican woman asks you if you would like to have a "tamale breakfast". I guess the more romantic version of coming over to "chill and watch Netflix"

Amando, Luis, Alin, Penelope, Jose, Pablo
 8:00 Workshop/Fluency The last class of my day is an advanced fluency class where our topics were varied from Facebook and Social Media, Movies, Pollution and world cultures. For a conversation class they were oddly quiet at times. They surprised me with Tacos (naturally) and all the tasty things that go with it. This was the precursor to the Taco fest t that was about to begin. Remember these are not your parents disgusting Taco Bell Tacos.

Angel, Ricardo, Diana, Laura, Michelle, Andrea, Anna, Ricardo
6:00 Beginner
 The next day was the Tuesday for the final exam. My class of beginning students, who were hilarious through out the entire semester added to their reputation. I have back to back classes over 4 hours in the evening. This is class number 2 and when it was their turn they mysteriously told me that the office staff need to speak to me. That in itself made no sense but the grins and giggles spoke volumes. So the second I left the class the door was slammed and the sounds of chaos immediately erupted inside the room, that I was now locked out of. When I return there was a very sweet and well organized display that was proudly presented to me complete with signs snacks and well wishes created with the gusto and enthusiasm.

Uriel, David, Elizabeth, Luis, Gonzalo, Mary, Fernanda
 7:00 Pre-Intermediate
 Immediately following the sweetness of the previous class came the gluttony of the next class. Complete with a large pizza, 3 kilos of two types of tacos with all the fixings and more than enough chips and crisps to treat the entire school. This became a gorge fest of extreme proportions.
Added to this frenzy Fernanda surprised me with chapolines. I have spoken about these dried and fried grasshoppers but I had promised her I would eat them if she brought them in, so I did. When I told her they were not half she grinned widely and declared "try these they are spicy' I did.

Neria, Lily, Susana, Uriel, Blanca, Ramses
 5:00 Workshop/Fluency
 Ahh, the early Workshop 2 class. They are as diverse as they are fun. From 14 years old to 69 years old they do as Mexicans do and accept each other without issue, even showing respect to the oldest student especially when she struggled. Susana is a baker and brought in a delicious chocolate cake as well guess it, Tacos!! We had some great conversations and they took great pleasure in teaching me as many bad words and phrases as possible.

Paola, Gilberto, Paula, Carmen, Luz, Ana
 10:00 am Pre - Intermediate
Then there was breakfast with the funniest class that I had. This is the crew that made the effort during the Halloween party and wore great costumes allowing us to win...wait for it..A FREE TACO PARTY.
They took me to breakfast which was delicious and proceeded to give me a few small gifts including a framed and signed photo. They then each gave me a napkin and asked me to write a personal message to each of them.

Laura, Teresa, Annete, Angel, Mercy
 9:00 am Beginner
 My final morning was spent with this excellent group having a delicious breakfast I took my bus out of town. Although beginners they took to the language quickly and in turn found time to destroy and laugh at my inability to speak any advanced Spanish.

The restaurant was near the school and it was fitting as this was the same restaurant that I had my first meal in Tehuacan.

 Each class presented their own unique challenges and I have to many fantastic moments to count but in the end every student passed the semester. This is not so much a testament to great teaching but more a testament to how smart and dedicated the students were. Contrary to what your perceptions are, Mexicans are some of the smartest and focused people I have ever met. They take personal pride in learning and doing the best that they can do. I had the opportunity to share experiences with many of them outside of school. (Get your mind out of the gutter!). We hiked, went to a wedding, family parties, shared beers, coffee, lunches and had long fun conversations that added to my personal insight into the "Real Mexico". They helped to destroy the preconceived negative perceptions that I realized that I had, which I have to thank the Main Stream Media for drilling into my head over the years.

Adiós mis amigos. Gracias por hacerme un techer mejor y una mejor persona. Cada uno de ustedes ha entrado en mi corazón a tu manera. Nunca olvidaré a ninguno de ustedes. Encontré mi risa otra vez por tu culpa y nadie puede quitarme eso de mí

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