Sunday, January 12, 2014


"All great changes are preceded by chaos."

I found this quote the other night and realized just how perfectly it applies to everything that is going on here in the DR. After a nice two week break at home with my family (as wonderful as it was) I could not wait to get back here. I missed my kids, I missed the school, I missed working and after all the snow and cold dios mio did I miss the sun and Domincan heat. Even so, the break was just what I needed, it gave me some new energy and fuel to start the New Year off kicking. Little did I know how much I was really going to need that extra fuel and energy. That chaos that precedes the change, well Nina and I felt it the second we stepped off the plane. We were waiting for our friends to pick us up when they called to say that a tire popped and they wouldn't be able to come get us. That meant we had to take a taxi, which from Santo Domingo to La Romana could be anywhere from $100-$200. Which is crazy. As we're waiting for our luggage (of course mine is pretty much the last bag) our friends call to say that if we pay the tow truck driver $40 they'd all come get us at the airport. Well if we'd forgotten where we just landed, we were quickly reminded. It couldn't get more Dominican then that! Not more then 20 minutes later did our ride show up; the tow truck. Luckily we made it home safely and not broke, but we really should have realized that was just a taste of the chaos that was going to continue.
Most of us went to school for, what was it, a 7 hour day? Well at the Hogar due to lack of space for the hundreds of students who attend, there are two sessions, a morning and afternoon. Well, there WERE two sessions. New starting this year, after months of construction, the school will have what we know as a normal extended day. All students will be at school from 8am-2:50pm. We knew this was a big change, but I don't think we were ready for the chaos that came before it. Our first week back before classes start this Monday, was filled with meetings and planning. There are 8 or 9 new teachers, two of which are English teachers. Our first meeting was one lead by the Director with all of the teachers intended to motivate us to give it our all this new year. We then silently watched as all of the teacher's classes (grades and subjects) were switched around and and changed, feeling pretty relieved that it wasn't us. We had no idea that we had spoken too soon.  In the fall, Nina and I taught 1st-4th grade English in the afternoons, now due to the extended day we figured now we would just be teaching both sections of those grades. However, we had an English teachers meeting where we learned that one of the new teachers would be teaching 4th, another teacher 2nd and 3rd and Nina and I teaching 1st grade together. I then understood the other teacher's frustrations at having their nice and neat schedule completely tossed and thrown around to be changed to something different. Nina and I were frustrated, even felt defeated. We thought; we're here to teach these kids English as fluent English speakers and now they're not even putting us to good use. However we figured well if there isn't anything we can do lets make these 1st grade classes the absolute best they can be. An experience like this year of service really teaches you a lot of things, one being patience and another flexibility. Especially in a country such as this where 8:00 really means 9:00 and honestly nothing is really certain or stable (ex: the Friday before classes started on Monday, there was no set class schedule). The next day we're getting ready to start planning when we find out Ramses will be now teaching in the Hearing Impaired school due to lack of staff and that Diane was going to be there to support him and needed us to help her out with the planning of her English classes. And then began the chaos. Instead of just planning for two 1st grade classes we now had to plan for two 2nd grade and two 3rd classes as well. This is where that whole thing about flexibility comes in handy. Honestly, as much as we were a little stressed we were very happy to have more classes and more work. We've found we feel a lot better when were busier instead of when we're looking for something to do.
As the week came to a close, we reflected on this whole topic of change. Its frustrating, its chaotic, but a lot of times it is for the better. We're so excited for this new year and all of the changes because as much as it is a lot, we can already tell that these are all positive things. The kids will now have full days, which doubles their time in school. How can that not be beneficial. This past week has just really reminded me to be patient and flexible, to appreciate change, and amiss the chaos, to find the calm in the storm and remember that everything happens for a reason.

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