Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

So classes are going well, its hard to believe ive only been here for 4 days, it feels like forever, im not sure if that is a good thing or bad... One thing that has been strange is the way that pronouns innundate the spanish language and force me to constantly refer to myself as female. I think that maybe a priveledge of the english language is that I can fairly easily avoid pronouns and labels in that way. However the constant pronoun corrections from my teacher put on a different spin. The way that I have thought about my gender while I am here is strangely different then the way that I do in the US. I dont really know how it is, but in some ways I think about it so much less and in someways a million times more. Of course my sexuality is also a completely different story, here I am living with mormon missionaries and so maybe unfairly I do not think coming out would be a good idea around them. Although of course it is always strange that they continue to ask me if I have a boyfriend... in america, most people, except children, know better than to ask that question...
So during the lunch party at the school for the new year one of the other students asked me if it was a good year (he has evidently had a very poor year) and at first I responded yea, it was good.. but then of course I have been thinking since then about the year, I think the first part of the year was good, socially, academically, work wise... all of that, but the past few months have been pretty rough socially, I think that is due to alot of things and stuff also welling up inside me that sooner or later I will have to actually deal with. but I guess that is life...

so here is to a new year, in a new place, I will be bringing it in with the national Guatemalan brand of beer, Cervazo Gallo, literally translated to Rooster Beer...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Host Family and Xela

So on my second day here I had to get from Guatemala City to Quetzaltenango, which is about 5 hours away, so I got a taxi to the bus station and a bus to Quetzaltenango, which is nicknamed Xela, prounounced SHEY la. The bus was long, not much else to say about it, I listened to music on my ipod and watched alot of the scenery. I was most suprised to see developments and gated communities... We stopped once to go to the bathroom and get something to eat, but I was afraid the bus would leave without me and so I only went to the bathroom and didn´t eat, foolish move on my part because by the time I got to Xela I was starving. When we finally did get here, after a breathtaking decent into the valley (just to top all of the incredible views on the way) the bus stopped in the middle of the road and everyone got off and collected thier bags while trying not to get hit by passing (angry) drivers. I was approached by a cab driver and he helped me get my bag and then off we went to zona 1, the area where my host mom lives. When we get there we get a little bit lost as he tries to find the address and when he finally finds the right block there are police. So we go around the block and try to get in on the other side but it is way after the address I have written down, so we go back around the block and proceed on foot... he was extreamly nice for continueing to help me find her. When we get to her house no one is home and we tried calling with his cell phone but no one answers, so he goes down the street and talks to some women who are standing in the door, after he tells me that I can go there. When I get there they tell me (in spanish, which I understood, yay!) that I am welcome to leave my stuff there, and stay there or go into town, etc. I find out that they are another spanish school and they have a large room full of computers. So, I drop my stuff off with them and walk around town. While I am walking I stumble on a park where I spot some stands with food in the distance, this is perfect... I get some food, basically a meal (tacos and coke) for less then 2$ american and then sit in the park to eat. Of course this is where the fun begins, but ill write more about the park another day.

After I eat I go back to the spanish school and they call my host mom, who is home now, she comes by and we go back to her house. She has a nice house, two floors, I meet her daughter, gaby, and she indicates rooms for her son and nephew, but I have yet to see them. My host mom´s name is Ana, btw. After the introduction and tour of the house I finally get to shower, unpack and relax for a bit. Dinner is at 730, and I read until then. When I go down for dinner we sit down with Gaby and her fiance... Ana tells me that the meat is pollo (chicken) but I swear it was actually ham... good thing im not keeping kosher... After dinner I tried to sleep, but the homesickness took over for a bit and so I listened to some good old american Car Talk on my ipod and then finally went to sleep.

This morning I woke up around 7 for breakfast and then a short walk to the school, I met my teacher, he is awesome. Very funny and very expressive. We practiced different forms of past tense, which was good because I suck at tenses. After that I came back home for lunch and then walked around a bit. When I got back to the house Gaby and Ana were watching TV so I sat down to watch with them... They were watching a show that takes place in Miami but is all in spanish... it was a court room type show and I understood some... After that Gaby went to go on the computer and I watched more TV, there are alot of channels that come in in English and have spanish subtitles, so I rotted my brain with MTV... just like at home...

of course now I am starting to feel sick, like a fever, anyone know how to say accetamenaphine in spanish?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hola, estoy en Guatemala

I always forget how overwhelming it can be to be in a place surrounded by a language you only partially understand. Yesterday was my travel day, I don't know when it started because I didn't leave the night before but o well. I left my house for the Newark Airport (which was significantly cheeper then flying out of philly). We were there by 530 for my 830 flight so I had sometime to walk around the airport and overspend on some breakfast. Then I got on my plane to Panama City. For all but about 10 minutes of the flight I slept. In fact, I think I was asleep before the plane took off... Next I had what was supposed to be a 5 hour layover in Panama. I fell asleep for two more hours and then when I woke up noticed that the flight to Guatemala City had been delayed. So what else to do but walk around the duty free shop where 5 cartons of marlboro were being sold for 70$, I thought about buying some lucky strikes too, but who knows, maybe on the way back. So after watching families climb on board a flight to cancun, which was leaving from the same gate as my flight, I finally got to board my plane. This one was smaller then before but there were also over half empty seats. So I spread out and closed my eyes for the bumpy ride into Guatemala city. When I got to Guatemala I had missed my airport escort, or something like that, so I grabbed a taxi which I am sure that I overpaid for, and got to the hotel I am writing to you now from. So after all the problems and delays and planes and taxis my reward was that I got to kick back and relax while eating fresh guava off the tree thing in the courtyard under the stars.

now on to Quetzaltenango...
(where I will be staying for the rest of my two weeks)

Monday, December 15, 2008


for the 13 year old boy:

I am so jealous of you
you turned 13 and all of the sudden you were taller than me
your muscles grew, nice and toned and big
your voice dropped.

I am so jealous of you,
because I will never be tall like you
and I have to work a million times harder to make my muscles grow like that
and my voice may never stop sounding like this...

you live to easily in your world
and I wonder if it is something I want to pass into
but at the same time, I am still jealous

Thursday, December 11, 2008



yay for systems for locating neutral bathrooms...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kids - Gender - Interactions

9 year old female youth from a program I work with, the week before we had an extended discussion on sex, gender, and non-gender normativity.

youth: so _____ is a boy right?
me: yes
youth: so then why does she talk like a girl?
me: *no idea what to say to that* there are somethings you just can’t change

that reminded me of another half written blog entry from the summer, so I thought I would post that up too…

4 year old female, enthusiastic, has been in my class tuesday and thursday for the past 6 weeks. has been taught my name almost every week and continues to call me teacher. always wants to do everything right then. has trouble waiting her turn. would much rather run my class than be in it. wears a plain black bathing suit with bedazzled heart in the center of her chest. Hair braided with colorful barrettes at the end of the braids that fall out every other class, so I put them in my pocket for safe keeping and am constantly finding them days later.

x- “teacher? why do you wear shorts?”

x- “teacher? why don’t you have paint on your nails?”
me- “why do I have to have painted nails?”
x- “because that is what you are supposed to do”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Impacting Girls Influencing Life: an almost finished documentary

SO, I am putting the final touches on the piece tonight!
It is so far screening in two places-

Tomorrow Night (Dec. 5th) and Saturday Night (Dec. 6th)-
Social Justice Art Gallery
The Tavern in Prescott (Hampshire College)
Amherst, MA

Friday Dec. 26th - Most definately after friday night Hanukka services:
Mishkan Shalom
4101 Freeland Ave
Philadelphia PA 19128

thats one in each of the places I live, and hopefully more to come... let me know if you know of, or can think of any good venues for a screening!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008