¿Que pasa everyone? That is about as good as my Spanish gets—or pretty close. My name is Sam Arkin and it’s my turn to guest blog as a Manna Ecuador Program Director. I came to Ecuador fresh off of an 11 month backpacking trip that took me all over Asia, the Middle East and Africa; I thought it was a good idea to get some travel/life experience right after I graduated from Connecticut College in 2009. I heard about MPI from a friend while I was traveling, applied, and the rest is history. I’m originally from Northern California, so it might be surprising to some that I don’t know Spanish very well. I actually studied Chinese and Vietnamese when I was in school, so one of my main challenges, so far, is actually learning Spanish. As for the programs I work with, I co-run the library and teen center, as well as teach adult English and children’s art. I am also grant manager with our last guest blogger, Luke Shallenberger, who actually does say ‘pop.’ How funny is that?
So, I have the pleasure of talking about Adult English this week. I know it may seem boring, given the events of the past week (i.e. the police in Ecuador kidnapping the President and trying to overthrow the government), but Adult English is anything but boring. I teach Intermediate Adult English along with Brock Peterson. We are sort of a two headed monster, so to speak. We hold class twice a week, once on Tuesday and once on Wednesday. The class number fluctuates between 7-15, but we have a group of regulars that like to show up and laugh at our bad jokes and poor Spanish pronunciation. They are a wonderful group of people who are very supportive of each other and are very supportive of Brock and me when we butcher something in Spanish.
At the end of every class we reserve time (it is sort of a passed-on tradition) for a song. The students listen to the song and fill in the ‘blanks’ that are on a lyric sheet that we give them. In our second class, we thought it would be interesting to use Sweet Home Alabama as our song of the week. It turned into a hysterical lesson about Southern vernacular and geography, mixed in with Watergate and Neil Young. I have to say that Brock, being from Georgia, took the lead on that one. He didn’t really need any help from a Yank like me.
I hope that was somewhat insightful. Keep readin, y’all.