Published: June 8th 2012June 8th 2012
I learned some new vocabulary: Huelga means strike. Early last week I was informed that the biannual negotiations with the administering corporation for the school were happening now. Satisfactory offers were not made and therefore, Thursday began the strike. Everyone showed up, but the teachers did not enter. They stayed outside (luckily in the sunshine) making signs, standing around, and later in the morning, eating breakfast. The cooking teacher made bread dough at home and cooked it over fire at the school. Always bread no matter the occasion! And boy, this hot dense bread with a generous dose of butter was delicious…
Besides for the bread, I showed up to get a glimpse of what exactly was going down. I had the opportunity to talk to a bunch of people that I hadn’t talked to before, so that was pretty cool. I keep getting more and more insights to the problem Politécnico is experiencing. Apparently, it is possible for two teachers doing the same work and with the same amount of experience to get different salaries. This happens because each individual negotiates his/her salary. On top of that, no one has received a pay raise in 5 years,
and according to the calculations done by some of the faculty, a solution to this problem does exist, and they’re on strike until the solution comes to fruition.
The following day, there was a march demonstration to the plaza. People appear to be supporting the teachers – even the police. I saw it, but I did not participate. I’m not part of the strike officially, and so I hope to continue teaching in one way or another. Hopefully, enough kids will show up to do an English workshop with me.
The time off has been nice though. I was able to borrow Sayuri’s bike to ride along the beach on Friday. This only lasted about 40 or so minutes because the hills kicked my butt. I’m not in tip top shape since deciding that I’d rather spend my time doing other things than exercising. At least I get my 30+ minutes of walking to and from school each day. In my free time, I’ve also been able to catch up on studying Spanish, planning, etc. and so I was able to thoroughly enjoy my weekend. I went to Talca Friday night with my family,
and Saturday morning, I made my first trip to the Talca Feria.
Wow! This market has to be one of my favorite market experiences. There was an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and hoards of people shuffling around buying it all. We made our way to one booth that sold dried fruits, nuts, spices, etc. Apparently, Maria Gloria and her family frequent this place because the owner quickly began to place samples in her and my hands. I was eyeing some golden raisins and he opened a bag to allow me to sample. “Saque más!” or “take more!” he said. I ended up getting my fill of “blonde” raisins, dried figs, walnuts, and olives before we moved on. “Just put the pits on the ground! I’ll sweep them up later!” My hands just kept being filled! I did purchase a large bag of raisins though for the road. Ah… riquisimas!
The huelga continues through the week. Every day the teachers show up to hang out in the street outside the school. Tuesday, to make things interesting, they walked to the beach. Then on Wednesday, they had a show of sorts – inviting students
cooking in my freetime
This week, I made pasta salad for my family, helped fry sopaipillas (pictured), fixed a burger and coleslaw feast, and mixed up my third batch of chocolate chip cookies since I arrived in Chile
to perform. I sang a couple little bits – one country song for the students to line dance to, and then we tried to do stand by me like we’ve been working on in choir. It didn’t quite work out the greatest, but whatever.
I decided that since I’m here to teach English, I’m going to teach English no matter what the case, so Tuesday I started offering an English workshop. “9:30!” I told every student I saw on Monday. No one came on Tuesday. Wednesday, 3 or so students showed up for it, so I opened the workshop to all of the teachers too. “We can do it here in the street!” And so with a murmur of what I took as approval we began. They laughed as I ran around the crowd holding papers with English words written on them trying to show the writing to the scattered group. We worked on greetings, directions, and the phrase, “I would like _.” It seems that they had a good time because they gave me a round of applause at the end. The best part was that one student came up to me and told me that
students came to perform
and of course there were dogs too...
he both enjoyed it and felt like he learned something – he feels more confident in his pronunciation. Awesome!
The next day I intended to continue teaching the teachers, but they had other things to do… argue. This situation is quite complicated beyond my understanding, but today, I picked up that there are two groups of teachers: the majority with one contract and a group of 5 (the newest teachers) with another. This other newer contract is the contract that the administering corporation wants to give to all new teachers, but of course the older one is better. The huelga stands for a raise for all, but this raise cannot change the contracts. This group of 5 desires change, but the rest of the group are unable to support them. “What can you do to change an indefinite contract?” they say.
In the evening I cooked hamburgers and coleslaw to share, but with some broken spirits from the day’s events, the even was sparsely attended - quite unfortunate because there was a lot of really delicious food that I had wanted to share. Oh well, David, Sergio, and I certainly got our fill!
For a variety of reasons, I’m really starting to tire of this strike thing. Let’s hope it’s not 27 days like the last one.