I Moved To Oaxaca

Friday, March 05, 2004

No surprise really that I like some of my students more than others. Example? All of the teen groups are named after New York boroughs. One of them, Staten Island (not one I've ever taught) is renowned for being lazy so-and-so's, so all the teachers call them Static Island. Well, for the past month I've been teaching an adult-class equivalent. Garden City does not want to take notes, do anything fancy, or play with the material. Ever. I finally asked Manuel to talk to them to see if we can get them motivated. They said better music would help, and suggested I play rap; specifically, Eminem. When I told Manuel that the only rap cd I have doesn't have any tracks without cussing, and did he want me to use that, he deferred. So classes during the last week have been very quiet. Even though I did consider trying out some Sharkbait, pre-dance-beatz Coil, and a little Ministry -- I'm pretty sure they couldn't make out what THEY were saying.

But, every month or so all the teachers get rotated out into new classes. So the good news is, I don't have that 7:30am Garden City class anymore. But I do have a 7:00am class. Yikes! Good thing I like those people.

In another class -- the one composed primarily of well-to-do ladies who travel to Vegas and New York and Mexico City and Europe a lot -- we often end up spending half the class discussing topical events. They want to practice speaking, and you never know what will come up in one of these conversations. So far we've talked about the Bush dynasty and the Republican conspiracy to destroy the world; California's immigration policies; reproductive organ vocabulary and words for prostitute, both male and female; the names of the holidays associated with Easter and Holy Week, and why Holy Week isn't celebrated in the US, and why Domingo de Pascua in the US is celebrated by pagan gifts of flowers, eggs, and rabbit iconography as well as being named after a Scandanavian goddess; marriage rights in the US and Mexico; and all the different ways you can say "breaded-and-deep-fried-chicken" in the US, and why chicken-fried steak isn't really chicken.

During the instant-coffee-and-cookies break following our little talk about Lent and Ash Wednesday and all that, several of my students asked me what my religious leanings were. Hmm. Whip out my pocket dictionary and look up the word: pagano. Their eyes widened. I showed them the word in the dictionary because sometimes my accent flattens out a word so much they don't understand what I'm saying. Oh, no, they said. Are you sure? The paganos are against Christ; they are in conflict with Christ. They mentioned the martyrs down in the cathedral right off the zocalo. Uh, okay, backpedal. I'm not against Christ, I explained. (I left my feelings about the church and most Christians out of the discussion.) I believe in Christ -- and Buddha and all the cool Hindu gods and Mohammad, too. All of them. Ah, so do we, they chimed. You are politeo -- a polytheist. I borrowed Gaby's pen and updated my book. Wouldn't do to use the wrong word out in the pueblos.


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