Sunday, August 17, 2008

Life's A Beach

One of our better looking Antillean friends

Curacao's Three Amigos ... Calamari anyone?

Dan is adapting well to island life!

Sunset from our patio ... the oil refinery only adds to the romance

This tugboat isn't doing much work these days ...

but this yellow fin thinks it makes a great addition to the reef

One of our new favorite beaches ... you can jump from right here!

One our funny looking Antillean friends

Just to clarify we did actually go to work this week. In fact, the week at the International School with our students was wonderful! Dan has never had a class full of students with so many great ideas and interesting things to say; and Erin is off to an excellent start with her Journalism class. We are really beginning to feel at home, and even enjoyed a Saturday night out with all of our new friends and colleagues! Erin also got up early Saturday morning to run 17 km with the Curacao Running Club! The highlight, however, has to be our afternoons exploring the beautiful beaches and underwater worlds of the island. These adventures are also well-suited for the camera, which means that our lives in Curacao will seem like little more than never-ending days lounging in the Caribbean sun or splashing around with our new underwater friends if all you ever look at are the pictures we post. So every now and then, get a small dose of reality, and take a few minutes to read about the adventures we're having at school.

We have lived here in Curacao for just over a month now, and it is slightly overwhelming how quickly time is flying by. Work has completely captivated both of us, and we are (as usual) two of the first people in the building in the morning, and two of the last to leave every afternoon. Perhaps we both work too hard, but I think it's only because we honestly love what we get to do everyday. In my World History classes I have several students who speak almost no english - I must sound like a squawking parrot! Erin combined with the ESL (English as a Second Language) team has proven to be very helpful in addressing the issues surrounding these students' education, but it has been eye-opening to face a completely new set of professional challenges. My students (I teach 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades) are proving themselves not only eager to perform well and earn good grades, but also motivated to learn - just to learn! It's a face and an attitude I'm afraid I haven't seen in the classroom back in the States - at least not as a teacher.

From outrageously creative interpretive performances to dynamic and insightful round-table discussions, even these high school freshmen keep me on my toes. I certainly haven't had a dull moment yet, and I hope the streak will continue for a long while. I know it's only the first weeks of a long school year, but I do not think I've felt this energized by a group of students since I began teaching. They love to learn, and to think, and they encourage every desire I have to challenge them more - well maybe not with more homework, but certainly with more questions to ponder. I don't see me running out of questions any time soon, but it's a nice problem to have.

Erin's challenges are a bit different. She shares an office with a new ESL teacher on the Elementary and Middle School side of the campus. She has been working very hard to design a curriculum for her Journalism classes (the same class that will produce the school's newspaper) while at the same time testing and getting to know the many students who are labeled ESL. It is a daunting task when nearly the entire student body is made up of boys and girls who perhaps speak English, but spoke Dutch, Spanish, or Papamientu, or maybe all three, before ever saying their first word in the language they have to learn in.

We are also both excited about our responsibilities with soccer and basketball coming up. Erin will be helping with the Girls' Soccer team and I'll be coaching both the Boys' and Girls' Basketball teams. Our experiences and adventures on the field and in the gym will be topics here I'm sure. With such an exciting beginning I'm sure we'll hit a few flat spells in the future, and we'll be counting on visitors to help us through! We're already hoping for friends in October, and family and friends in Curacao to celebrate Christmas and the New Year Curacao style. Don't wait until it starts getting really cold - book those tickets to paradise now!

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