Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Firestarters and Firearms

I spent my entire afternoon trying to start a fire in vain, so clearly this is something I need to work on before it gets really cold. I blame the wood for being wet, but people who live here seem to know the secret to starting a blaze in thirty seconds flat. I couldn't tell you how many times I´ve been caught red handed, blowing into the stove furiously with ash all over my face and hair. At least I provide endless amusement to my host family as the hapless gringo who only knows how to turn switches and push buttons.

In other news, the English teacher finally arrived at my school and we are ready to start work. The "English Only" room is probably the coldest room in the school, with broken windows and no curtains. The whiteboard is marred by a huge gash, and only half the lights turn on. And yet, it is my room! And so I am thrilled to begin the process of transforming the space. I have already started to make signs and posters to hang on the walls. I am also slowly starting to build relationships with the students and even remember a few names. Every day I will see different faces - about 300 faces a week - so this will be one of my biggest challenges.

The Virginia Tech shooting is all over the Chilean news and I am incredibly saddened, although I feel so removed from such a reality. My family and colleagues at the school expect me to be able to explain why such a thing could happen. In their minds, school shootings are a common occurrence in the US. And why, they wonder, is it so easy to obtain a gun in our country? What can I tell them? For now I remain silent, and hope that my actions and intentions will somehow assist in neutralizing this tragedy.

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