Friday, July 15, 2011

Terminating the semester

The title for this post comes from the verb "terminar" which translates to "finish." So everyone is asking me if I am "terminating" the semester. It's one more example of how cognates don't always transfer successfully. (For other examples: Realizar, Recuperar, etc...). So be careful when you come here and use cognates all the time.

This has been a week full of ups and downs. Pretty much everyone has left me. Most people I know did their exams last week and then left last weekend or early this week to head home. But I'm glad I took the extra time to stay a little bit longer so that I could finish my grades and say goodbye to my students.

Grading was super stressful. It's always hard knowing you have someone's "fate" in your hands. These students pay $140 per semester to take English classes. And that is no small amount of money here. So I feel terrible every time I fail students. However, I am also the kind of teacher who tries really hard to help students not to fail. So by the end of everything, if they really did fail, it's kinda their fault in my eyes.

I ended up failing only 4 students in my one class. I fudged on one grade because she was .1 away from passing and I figured I probably made some kind of error somewhere so I gave her the extra partial point. But the 4 others really did fail. There was one boy I felt bad about failing because he "can do" the material he just doesn't. He sits in class and doesn't do anything and he doesn't do his homework. He was the only one who complained about his grade when I showed him that he failed. He kept telling me to go back and re-check my grades but I told him I couldn't "help him."

That's the phrase here: "Teacher, help me." Which translates to "teacher change my grade so I can pass." Lots of other students in other classes said this a lot. In my one friend's class, a girl faked fainting so he would feel bad for her. He told her to get up. In another class my friend had two students crying and begging. I was so glad I didn't have to deal with that. But, honestly, I think it's because the 3 students who didn't ask me to help them, knew they were going to fail and didn't hold it against me. They knew I had been fair.

So today I turned in all my grades and now I am terminated! My one class even took me out to dinner and got me THE BEST PRESENT EVER. They are the coolest slippers. They also got me a watch and a plaque thingy.

It has been suuuuuuper cold here recently. There is no heating so when it goes down to 45 at night and the house gets down to 55, it's freezing! It's so cold I have to talk myself into getting out of bed in the morning. Tungurahua usually has no snow on it, but recently the top has been covered in snow. Apparently August and July are "winter" months here. I'm glad I'm leaving!

I also ended my classes with the directors of the university. Two of them consistently showed up and the main director never showed up after the first week. Oh well. And in typical Ecua-fashion, they skipped the last day (today) and didn't tell me. So I woke up at 6:30 for nothing. It's one of the disappointments you get used to here.

Tomorrow I'm going to do laundry and clean the whole apartment. It should be super fun!... I have to decide on what I'm taking back and what I'm leaving. I know I'll need to throw a lot of clothes away and buy more while I'm in the states. A year of bad washing and clothes really do die. My goal is to only bring my medium suitcase back with me, but we'll see if that works out because I want to bring a lot of things back to Ecuador with me too. Then on Sunday I am heading to Quito, saying goodbye to my two favorite WorldTeach non-Ambato volunteers and then I'm heading to the airport. I'm actually going to sleep in the terrible Quito airport because my flight is at 6:40, so I need to check in by 4am and I just can't convince myself to get a hostal for 5 hours. Maybe it's a silly idea but I feel safe at the airport and if nothing else, I'll be guaranteed to sleep on the plane.

I might write one more blog post before I leave, but for now, this is it folks. The first year in Ecuador has terminated and I am heading back to the states! My cat, my family, my sister's new puppy, Chipotle, shopping, driving... so much to look forward to!


  1. I can't wait for you to come home! Congratulations on year 1. You are great. I love you. Off to walk the pup now... when you come visit, you can join us :)

  2. dear sara -

    it's been over 2 months since you blogged. please update us.

    love, your sister

    ps - let's talk soon!