Ecuador 8/31/2018 - 9/15/2018

Wednesday, 9/5/2018 - School Orientation

Before work this morning, I had breakfast with Craig and Yupanqui: corn pancakes, ham, cheese, bread, juice, coffee. It seems that El Señor Chipikins has stuck as a name for the cat, the kids greeted him this way this morning. We were quite pleased, as we felt that he deserved a distinguished name.

I went up to my office to call in to a meeting. When I had finished (around 9:30), I went downstairs to an empty kitchen. I went into the casita to find Craig. He wasn't there, and neither was the camera, so I assumed that he had gone with the kids to school.

I found Aida and she confirmed this. Only she, Abuelita, and I were at home.

I went back to work, with a new assistant helping me: El Señor Chipikins. (He has been informed that licking my cheek and trying to pull my glasses off of my face during a conference call is not appropriate office behavior. Though laying next to my laptop for warmth is acceptable.)

My new work assistant: El Senor Chipikins

My new work assistant: El Señor Chipikins

Today was the kids' orientation at school. Craig, Rosa, and Antonio accompanied them. They had asked Craig to go at the last minute, and he left the house without his sunglasses or hat, which he soon regretted. The school is a short walk from the house. When they got there, parents chatted with one another while kids met their friends and played on the playground. Craig found a place in the shade to stand and observe. Some little girls picked some purple flower petals and playfully used them to shower Craig and then giggle.

Administrators brought out a small public address system. They addressed the parents, and then all of the children assembled by grades to sing the national anthem in both Spanish and Kichwa.

Parents then needed to register their kids in the individual classrooms. Craig expected this to be a fairly quick process, but it took quite a while. Parents and kids were leaving and there was still no sign of Rosa and Antonio. It turned out that they needed to go to orientation sessions in each of the three kids' classes, and he wound up standing in the shade waiting for them for quite a while.

After three hours, they all returned home. I had to eat lunch in my office because of my meeting schedule. We had soup, hamburg, lentils, rice, and vegetables.

After lunch, Antonio hung up Sisa's white board, and she conducted an English class for her siblings. She wrote the numbers one through ten on the white board from memory. She also wrote some phrases. It was very impressive that she did not need to look them up in her English book. Not all of the English words were spelled perfectly, but she spelled them phonetically. Any mistake was due to confusion between Spanish and English pronunciation. She practiced the words with Yupanqui and Shina, having them repeat after her. She gestured to the words on the board using a ruler as a pointer. She displayed self confidence as well as patience and empathy for her siblings. She turned on a teacher persona that was pure gold, and it made us feel very proud of her.

Sisa teaches English to Shina and Yupanqui

Sisa teaches English to Shina and Yupanqui

When I was done with work for the day, we played outside with the kids. They used wood scraps from Antonio's speaker building project, creating elaborate houses for their dolls and garages for their vehicles. They handed dolls to us and swaddled them with blankets.

We always tell the kids to "be nice" in English when they act up. It has become an inside joke that even when none of them knew any English, they knew "Be nice". They would always say "Be nice, Achi Mama! Be nice, Achi Taita!" I wrote "Be nice" on the white board. Yupanqui wrote "Be nice, Achi Taita" under it.

Sisa came in and said she wanted to play an English game. We didn't know what she had in mind. She went up to the whiteboard and started to draw a gallows. Hangman! This ought to be interesting. Sisa chose the first word. As we chose letters, there was often confusion. Letters of the alphabet have different names in English and Spanish, and we were often misunderstanding one another, especially when it comes to vowels.

We went round robin, and there were so many incorrect letter guesses that once Sisa had drawn the entire man, she started to add as many additional body parts as necessary: eyes, nose, mouth, fingers...

As we guessed correct letters, Sisa would realize that she had the wrong number of letters, or she had put a letter in the wrong space. Suddenly the word was quite different, thwarting all of our attempts to guess it. Sisa was also fond of using phrases but thinking that they were a single word ("catandog" was her attempt at "cat and dog"). It made for quite a challenging game indeed, and we had many laughs. It was great practice for the kids and we all enjoyed playing together.

The kids start classes officially tomorrow, and Sisa has English class in Ibarra after school. So we all went to bed early shortly after dinner.
Abuelita in her outdoor kitchen

Abuelita in her outdoor kitchen

Craig, Antonio, and the kids return from school orientation

Craig, Antonio, and the kids return from school orientation

Shina with El Senor Chipikins and Cachupin

Shina with El Señor Chipikins and Cachupin

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