Tuesday, November 22, 2011

School Update
Regular classes for the 2011 school year finished up this past Wednesday.  The students are now officially on summer break until mid February, and the staff continues working until mid December.  However, this Thursday there is a mandatory ‘fiesta de alegria’ or ‘happiness party’ for all of the students.  This includes a thorough cleaning of the classrooms followed by a donated lunch.  Quite the coincidence that the party falls on our Thanksgiving Day!  The following week there will be another set of exams for any student that failed a class and wants to try to take a harder exam in an attempt to pass the class. Then in mid December there will be the 9th grade and 11th grade graduations. 
On the last day of classes, last Wednesday, Sor Nela and I took 20 internas to a private home pool as a goodbye/ end of the year party.  We rode the bus which meant that the girls all stood in the aisle of the already packed bus.  They were yelling and screaming and creating quite a ruckus for the entire half hour ride to the pool house…I felt bad for everyone else riding the bus with us, but still I couldn’t help but laugh a little at the whole situation. Twenty teenagers screaming every time we rounded a corner in a usually silent bus J hahaha!  The weather was rainy for the entire afternoon at the pool, but that did not stop those girls from thoroughly enjoying the pool. They loved it.
This week I am doing more paperwork for the principal.  I’ve also got to call the parents of prospective students to set up interviews, as well as fill out confirmation certificates for the upcoming confirmation on Saturday.
Only in Costa Rica: Random Occurrences in My Daily Life
At 5:30 AM on a particularly cool Thursday morning, still half asleep I turned on the shower and got in.  I grabbed my shampoo bottle that was sitting on the shower floor.  As soon as my fingers touched the bottle, I felt something hard and soft underneath them that felt nothing like the smooth plastic shampoo bottle.  My arm jerked, I dropped the bottle, it hit the floor, and to my horror I saw a coaster-sized hairy spider on my shower floor.  Scared, wet, in a hurry to get to work, and not wanting to touch the spider to get it out of shower, I decided to quickly take my shower and try to ignore the spider less than a foot away from my feet.  After 30 seconds with hair sudsy, I looked down to check that the spider had not moved from its spot on the floor.  But it was on MY LEG! I let out a blood curdling scream, jumped, swiped the spider off my leg, and fell hard on the shower floor. Ouch!  I was completely shaken up and squeamish now with a soapy head of hair and a few good bruises.  Apparently, the swipe at the furry beast sent it flying against the shower wall where the impact killed it and left it sprawled out in the corner of my shower.  I quickly rinsed my hair and ran out of the shower.  It was a good two days before I braved the now contaminated spider shower again. I am happy to report there have been no instances to report since that awful Thursday morning.
Teatro de la Calle
One Sunday afternoon, I got to experience a street theater performance in downtown San Jose.  Eight women wearing brightly colored clothing ran and walked around a two-block radius in the center of San Jose, acting all the while, singing, and dancing.  They were accompanied by a man playing the drums and a famous guitarist.  At times the women split up into subgroups that ran to different places to perform.  The viewers had to choose a group to run and follow, then crowd around to hear and see the show.  All of the acts were a comical spin on everyday life in Costa Rica.  The group was extremely talented and entertaining.  Plus, the scurry from place to place and city people walking by, through, and in the show added a whole new dimension to my theater viewing experience. One of the actresses in the street theater stared in a recent Costa Rican written and directed movie called ‘El Regreso’.  Experiencing street theater was a unique and fun way to learn more about the culture here.
El Clasico

We went to a huge soccer game where two rival teams, Saprissa (from where I live) and La Liga (from a nearby city, battle it out.  The entire stadium was sold-out, and it was hard to filter in through the crowds, let alone find seats.  It was a great game; final score of 2-2.  It was complete craziness amongst the fans.  At one point, the La Liga fans lit red flames (their color) and held them in the air smoking for about 10 minutes.  The night was completed with a stop at McDonald’s on the walk home for oreo blizzards. J
Cooking Class
I am proud to say I now know how to make a tasty arroz con leche (dessert with rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon) and savory chancletas (literally ‘sandals’, but he dish is a potato-like root stuffed with a creamy, cheesy, mushroomey filling).  A friend from church came over to teach us how to cook these famous tico plates.  Buen aprovecho!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Big Change Is On Its Way at Casa Maria High School

Believe it or not there are only two weeks of classes left until the end of the school year at Casa Maria!  Everyone is starting to have that end-of-the-school-year mentality already.  In fact, I’ve been helping a lot with administrative paper work to wrap up this year and look towards next year.  This work has included inventories of things in the classrooms and counting up absences and tardies for each student. 
Throughout October there was quite a bit of drama and speculation amongst the nuns and professors about the future of the high school.  There was a rumor that the high school was going to close completely for the coming year.  The closure was proposed by the nuns for several reasons.  The major reason is that, according to some of the nuns, the high school is not functioning at an adequate level. Many of the students lack respect for the professors and nuns, desire to learn, attention in class, good behavior, and punctuality. Classes are not only hard on the professors and volunteers, but the presence of the school as part of the larger project (which is all of Casa Maria) affects the daily lives of the nuns and all of the people who live there. Also, the nun who takes care of the dorming students does not like her job and finds it too challenging and tiring.
The director of Casa Maria went to the provincial Salesian conference one week ago. The province is composed of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.  While at the conference, the director proposed the closure of Casa Maria high school; however, the closure was not approved.  Instead, the mother superior suggested down-sizing each class to around 15 students. So how will the students who get to continue at the school be chosen? They are currently being evaluated by the professors and administrators in the areas of behavior, punctuality, grades, and uniform (if you can believe that last one or not). The idea is that the classes will be easier to handle and that the learning of students will increase with the smaller, more selective student body. Hopefully, the change will create an improved environment at the school—one that supports greater growing and learning, happiness, order, and peace.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vamos Saprissa - El Monstruo Morado!

I got to experience my first Central American soccer game the other weekend! And it was not a disappointment. Nicole's friend invited us to go with him to see a game that was part of the national league. The location could not have been much better-- just a 30 minute walk to a neighboring town called Tibas. The special fan section played music, sang, and jumped throughout the entire game. Our team, Saprissa, won 2 to 0. I'm looking forward to going to more Saprissa games soon!

We won 2-0!

The routy "power and pride" fan section that did not
 cease to play music and jump thorughout the entire game.