The last few days in Teresina have been memorable to say the least, and at times, it has been a total box of suprises. I wouldn’t have it any other way.:) After our weekend excursion to the coast, we started the week at Joselia’s school (Centor de Linguas), visiting classrooms, and teaching and talking with students and teachers. Many of the students we are talking to are very interested in learning about American culture and the American school system, as well as excited to share their own experiences in Brazil.
In addition to visiting classrooms, we have been treated to experiencing the June Festival here in Teresina. The festival is meant to celebrate the birthdays of St. Anthony, St. John, and St. Peter, and it is a very festive time, especially in Teresina. On Monday evening, we were picked up at the hotel by Alex, who served as our guide for the June Festivities that evening. Much of the celebration takes place through traditional dances, where groups of of young people from all over Teresina and the surrounding areas practice all year long to perform during this special event. There is also typical foods, games, and live music throughout the fesitival.
We spent the next morning co-teaching at Joseslia’s school, where once again, the students were friendly and eager to learn from us, as we are eager to learn from them.
In the afternoon, our driver, Marcos took us to visit some of the sights around Teresina. Although Teresina is not really on the tourist route for Brazil, there are a number of sights one can explore with some free time in the city.
After checking out the local flea-market, we went to a place called, troka-troka; where people trade, buy, and sell used items with one another. There is the fear however, according to Marcos, that some of the items that are bartered may actually be stolen goods.
Afterwards, we walked across town, in the blistering heat, to the Central Artisan’s Market, where one can find a variety of hand-crafted goods and souvenirs from the state of Piaui, (of which, Teresina, is the capital).
In addition to the souvenirs, there are also many interesting decorations that adorn the market; from a giant statue of the Virgin Mary, to colorful wall murals, depicting violent battles between Europeans and the Indigenous people of Brazil.
After a brief rest at the hotel, we headed back to the school in the late afternoon to conduct a three hour workshop, where we were to share various strategies on how to teach English in the classroom. Due to the fact that I do not necessarily teach English, this was rather difficult for me to think about and develop. I did however, bring get some ideas from my ELL coordinator back home (thanks Budion!:)). Also, I am fortunate that Jennifer, my partner teacher here in Brazil, is quick on her feet, and prepared an entire improv/learning session for the second half of the presentation. This provided everyone with many, many laughs, as well as some excellent learning strategies. In fact, in addition to learning about Brazilian culture and education, one of the great benefits of participating in this program is that we are given the opportunity to learn from other teachers around the United States as well.
After the workshop with the teachers, there was an hour block of time, in which our agenda had no specific activities scheduled. In fact, all Joselia kept saying, with a suspicious look on her face, was that “from 5 to 6pm, there is box of suprises.” As the time slowly approached, we could witness her, jumping up and down, like a child filled with excitement, chanting “box of suprises, box of suprises!”
With much trepidation (and rightfully so), we walked into the faculty lounge after our workshop, only to find that Joselia had arranged a make-shift Karaoke session with all of the school’s teachers. Okay, so I suppose some context is needed here.
On our road trip to the beach this past weekend, while singing along to some 80s song that came over the radio, I had mentioned that I love to sing Karaoke, and inquired about the possiblity of being able to do so in the city of Teresina. Unfortunately, I did not realize that there is virtually no place to do such a thing in the city. Not to disappoint her guests however, our incredible hostess secretly arranged to have a Karaoke machine and TV set up in the faculty lounge. To add to the ridiculousness (amazingness?) of it all, our poor driver, Marcos, was told to be back at the school by 5pm, presumably, so he could witness this spectacle. Being we were not scheduled to leave the school until 7pm, we can only assume he was summoned to watch.
However, even burying your head in the newspaper could not ignore the fact that this was, indeed, really happening. Apparently, the “box of surprises” was Karaoke!
Having the opportunity to be with the other teachers of Centro de Linguas has been such an amazing and positive experience. It has been eligthening to discover that many of the issues we face in the United States are similar to those that teachers face across Brazil. Sharing their ideas, culture, and generosity with us, the teachers of Centro de Linguas have provided us thus far, with an absolutely wonderful and heartwarming experience; I will surely miss them when we leave Teresina in a few short days.