The Jubilant Journal of Joyce's Journey (J-4)

In which Joyce takes her biggest step out of the box yet.

Lo Siento Mi Companeros! July 22, 2009

Filed under: 1 — joyceamy @ 10:10 pm

Lo siento mi companeros, I realize it has been forever since I have updated. I’ve been in Chile now for a little over two weeks and I really feel settled in the area…sometimes I forget where I am in this beautiful world (shame on me). But regardless of how settled I am, my life is still happening and I want to update you all on everything.

I have been taking Spanish classes everyday from 9:30 to 10:45 at the Internation Center. I have an incredible teacher, Jennifer, or Jenny, who has really helped me in building an incredible base to this confusing language. While trying to grasp spanish, I have actually realized how difficult english is to both teach and learn and has created an interest within me to develop a way to learn to teach english at some point in the future. But, I digress, Chile is the fastest speaking spanish country in the world, so us english speakers have pretty much drawn the conclusion that becoming fluent is almost impossible. But hey, we’re working on it.

One of my roommates, Gabriel, met another Canadian man on his flight over here who has a house here and has been coming here for years. He speaks no spanish but knows the area front and back. On Sunday, he went to Santiago and took Gabriel, my other roommate, Kelsey, and I with him! It was a lovely day of sightseeing and exploring some incredible, state-of-the-art malls. It was comforting but exciting to spend time with someone who knew the area and spoke english at the same time. He has become a valuable help and friend since we have been here and he left yesterday to go back to his wife, but he took us out for dinner which was so nice. I am glad we could all meet each other.

Last weekend, however, is the one that I really need to update you all on. All four of my roomates, as well as myself and another friend from the international rented to cars and took a roadtrip up north on the coast of Chile. It was a national holiday here on Thursday and Friday so we had a four day weekend and decided to take advantage of it, and boy did we! We drove about six hours to La Serena, to an incredible town and even better a blast of a hostel experience. But the trip there was just incredible, every peice of land was worth a photograph, it was one of those instances where you don’t even need a good camera, no matter the camera, an amazing picture will come out because the beauty was so natural and powerful. We drove and up and down dirt roads, mountains, and stopped at a national park called Fray Jorge, where we had a very close encounter with both a baby fox and a hairy donkey. I mean, they were actually wild, like just there, sometime I  am just not used to seeing being from Maryland and NYC. Hostel Aji Verde was packed full of students from around the world and let me just be honest with you all, it was an amazing place to just chill out and party a little bit. Everyone in Chile is so friendly and generous, we met some amazing people and slept in some very calm, peaceful rooms. The bathrooms were nice too, which we later realized, was a real priveledge in the Hostel world.

The next day, we continued our journey in La Serena to a far away island to explore. We got a boat tour on a tiny little wooden boat and were shown pinguinos (penguins) and sea lions almost in touching distance. It was beautiful and REAL. I discovered I am extremely afraid of Sea Lions. Those babies are huge. That trip took the whole day and when we returned back to the hostel, we were greeted with a huge birthday party of one of the other people staying at the hostel. It was another great day and great night.

We woke up early the next day to move onto Ovalle which is a little further into the center of Chile but still north of Vina del Mar. Ovalle was a very small, cute little town. We got to our Hostel, reunited with a friend from the other hostel who was staying there, and realized that where we were, “Jaime’s Crazy House.” We were in a tiny, shoe box room filled with three home made bunk beds, one single and a bathroom that looked like it was built in 1874 and hadn’t been cleaned since then. However, that night, we had the treat of going to a mine of the national rock of Chile and a observatory on the very tip of a mountain, where the stars where brighter and bigger than I had ever seen so we figured that when we got back to the hostel that night, we would be so tired that we would just fall asleep. It did happen that way, but waking up was a harsh reality. The mine, the observatory, and the culture of Ovalle was worth of the necessary gross experience of the hostel. We headed back the next day, with a new friend in our extra seat, never happier to be back to our Adelante home.

Classes have been good this week, we got a new student which is exciting. I decided that I will continue to take spanish classes at the international center until the day I leave because I really want to become a master of spanish and it’s a lot harder than I had remembered. Tomorrow, I am going to my internship for the first time, so more on that soon. They are also taking us on a canopy ziplining tour aswell! Tomorrow will be great, but tonight…Harry Potter con Subtitulos! Yoopie (Chilean “yay”)!

As always, I am thinking of all of you at every step of this adventure. I love to continue hearing from you on facebook, email and through my blog. Check out my pictures from the trip on facebook, they are pretty killer. I love you all and hope you are all happy and healthy and living beautiful lives.

P.S. Check out the website, http://www.art-stream.org and check out what Julie Bain Zittraur has been doing for this incredible organization. I am inspired by her passion and bravery. Maybe we can all help her cause just a little bit…

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Chile. You’re real. July 9, 2009

Filed under: 1 — joyceamy @ 6:45 pm

Hi people!  I realize I haven’t been keeping up with my blogging. But I think I am realizing it’s hard for me to do this stuff and stick with it, so from now on, I am going to make an extra large effort to write more often. So, today is Thursday, I have almost been in Chile for one week! I can’t even believe that. Let me start with Saturday, the day I arrived.

So the trip in all was about 11.5 hours. It seemed like a lot, but on the plane, I made an effort to meet some spanish speakers so I could learn something while I was on the plane. Lucky for me, a woman sat next to me who only spoke spanish, so I think we spent the first two hours trying to speak and learn the others language. She was sweet and made me excited and hopeful for the adventure ahead. Also on the plane, I met a woman who worked in DC but was from Vina del Mar (where I live). She told me all about it, in English, and gave me her phone number and personal information so if I needed anything I would be able to call her. Her name was Ximena, which was strange and comforting at the same time because Ximena is one of my amazing friend from Arts-in-Action, everything, at that point, seemed to be coming together. I got off the plane, somehow got through customs and immigration and found my way to the man who was picking me up. He was a trendy man named Roberto. We had to wait for two other girls before we could leave, so we spent two hours, once again trying to speak to each other, and continuing to learn more about the language. Finally, the two other girls came, Valerie and Kelsey, both 21, one interning with a law firm and one interning at a physical therapy office for kids with physical disabilities. Kelsey lives with me here in the apartments while Valerie is living in a homestay. We dropped her off at a beautiful house on a beautiful hill and headed to our apartment. The hills were steep, stray dogs roamed everywhere, but after a bumpy ride, we had arrived to our apartment.

So, our apartment, a whole new living space, nothing like what we imagined. It’s a little run down, but it has character and is in the most amazing location- basically on the beach, walking distance to our school, the busiest part of town, and a colorful plethora of bars and restaurants. Later on, Gabriel came, who is from Quebec and is studying to be a doctor. To my surprise, no one really knew spanish, I was so relieved. This began our two and a half day eating out binge. We went to all the restaurants, ordered incredible chilean beers and wines, and had to pay about 3-6 dollars per meal. The meals here are like menu’s of the day so you go in and get an appetizer (which here is a drink, usually a piscosour), a soup, a salad, a entree, a desert and a glass of wine, all for a price of 2300 pesos, which is like five or six dollars. But with time, we realized that eventually, we would have to start living our lives in a normal way and buy our food at the supermarket around the corner and begin to cook, which we do now.

On Monday, we headed to the international center in the center of Vina del Mar, where we take classes. We were met by a teacher who gave us an oral exam, which I obviously failed miserably, but with pride. I was placed in the basic spanish class, which is like an advanced beginner with two others and a guy from New Zealand. We have class from 9:30-12:45. It’s not bad at all, and the amount that we learn in one day is unbelievable. However, the downside is that it’s winter here, and Chileans aren’t really into central heating systems so we sit in classes wearing tons of layers and drinking lots of steaming hot tea and coffee. I’m still not used to it, but it will do.  Also on Monday, we were told we were going to have an orientation. So Roberto came and picked us up again and took us about 30 minutes away to the largest vineyard in South America called Emiliana. They create the worlds like second best organic white wine (something like that). We got a tour of the vineyard from a girl who spoke amazing english and spanish and then continued to have an incredible wine tasting. The wine was very unique but most importantly, for some of the best wine in the world, very cheap. We each bought a few bottles to bring home (to the apartment and to you all). For three bottles of wine and one bottle of olive oil, all organic, my total was 30 dollars. I was amazed.

So since then, I have mainly been taking classes and exploring. Yesterday, I went to Valparaiso with Gabriel and Nathaniel and I was exposed to I think the most beautiful place in the world. It is a very crowded city of old, simple, but colorful homes and stores. Street vendors lined the road with home made jewelry and bags for close to 2 dollars. We took an elevator up an extremely steep hill to see the sun setting below us, looking over all of Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, onto the Pacific Ocean. It was beautiful. We spent time taking secret stairways and taking pictures of the world famous graffiti. It was like heaven to me. It also reminded me of my purpose here and grounded me to help me realize that this is my life for the next two months. We bought fresh swordfish from a street vendor and came home so the boys could cook us some dinner, as they always do (they love to cook). We had a family style dinner which was lovely because everyone really opened up. One of my roomates is called Anna and she is from England, I just love to hear her speak because her accent is so thick, she’s a plane engineer! So impressed…

Anyways, we then ventured out into Chilean nightlife to this bar we had heard of call Cafe Journal. It’s known as Cafe Gringo, we kind of just wanted to check it out, get an idea of what going out is like here. It was a crazy spot, packed full of people, beer and most prominently, cigarettes. It was difficult to breathe because the cigarette smoke was so strong. We talked, danced a little and pretty much just scoped out the scene. It was alright, not the best, but the Chileans sure do know how to have a good time, their nights don’t usually end until about 6:15 a.m. Gotta love it.

So, that’s me for right now, constantly practicing my spanish, but epically failing (Seth, if you’re reading this, Joyce’s Spanish Conversation Skills are sponsoring the Gala) at holding conversations in Spanish. But, hey practice makes perfect, and I’m truly channeling everything Educational Theater to find a way for all of this to stick and for me to have the confidence to speak and not feel stupid. All with time. I want to hear from all of you! Thank you so much to all of you who have been commenting on my blog. I really, truly appreciate all of your words and enjoy so much to hear of what is going on in your life.

Sending my love all the way from the Chile!

 

Some Updates June 16, 2009

Filed under: 1 — joyceamy @ 9:59 pm

Hello Friends and Family! I feel like I haven’t written in a while. I have only a little while until dinner and then some meetings so I will just give you a few highlights since I have last spoken…if I can remember.

Wow, where to start. I mean the days just speed by and when we have a chance to reflect, I can’t even remember what happened.

Our lessons plans have been going great. We have been teaching the kids some pretty advanced stuff. We spent a  lot of time on animal work which the kids seemed to love. They write in journals every day and the kids who took our class really enjoyed being animals. We used the animals in improvs and scenes in general. We also had them create superheros in order to encourage their individuality and their abilities and skills that make them unique. These were a huge hit as well.

We have done some opening shows and activities which have been really fun. We have done some wizard of Oz, aliens, and generally funny skits (or so we thought). One of the best parts of this week was on Saturday, there was a graduation party for all of the graduating GL’s  at the En Familia office in downtown Homestead. All of the GL’s families were there and it was a beautiful event. There was a lot of culture, love, energy, food and music–it was an amazing time. We have really become a family at the camp. It is a very open and non-judgemental community.

Last night, En Familia was being honored by the City of Homestead for the AIA camp. We all went and supported Carlos and Rocio as they recieved their award. The best part though was Ximena got to sing a beautiful spanish song called “Las Manos de mi Madre” and was accompanied by the music teacher, Will, who is a professional drummer. It was incredible.

In terms of the future, I just got a lot of information about my time in Chile. I will be working for a non-profit teaching a painting class to Kindergartener’s and a theater class to at risk teens. Don’t worry though, I will be in intense spanish classes for three weeks before I begin teaching so hopefully the language barrier, which is slowly disentegrating, will not be a huge issue. I will also be living five minutes from the beach and right in the city of Vin Del Mar. I am so excited but more nervous and scared at this point because everything is actually happening so fast, it’s unbelievable. Like to think that in less than two weeks I will be done with this camp and on my way to Chile really makes me want to poop in my pants. But I am sure it will be fine, I just need to stay rested and be aware of my mental sanity.

Tomorrow, we are off to the Miami Museum of Modern Art with the kids. I think it will be chaotic and fun at the same time. They are all so great and curious, but as you could imagine, don’t really know how to behave appropriatly. They do amazing work. I hope you all can see it at some point. I will try to take some more pictures.

Thank you all who comment on my blog. I have recieved every single one and it means so much to me. I miss all of you so much. I will try to do more blogging and comment back to you sooner, if I do at all. I’m like literally always busy here, but amazing busy. LOVES IT.

By the way, check out the AIA blog, because it’s now my official duty. I am the resident blog specialist…lame….but it’s aiahomestead.blogspot.com.

Love and miss you all. Think of you often. You mean the world to me.

 

mo pick-cha’s June 12, 2009

Filed under: 1 — joyceamy @ 3:21 am
 

June 11, 2009

Filed under: 1 — joyceamy @ 2:59 am

Arts-in-actions is in action and I have never been so busy—and I know I have already said that. But really now, I am so busy. But it’s great. Let me go through the past two days and maybe you will understand what I’m talking about.

Monday we woke up and headed to the center around eight o’clock. The second we got there, students arrived and our job began. We hung out, tried to get the shy ones to talk, had a dance party and before we knew it, all fifty chairs were filled with eager students. I am on the opening and closing committee which means I, as well as three other team members have to plan the activities in the morning and the closing activities as well as the journal prompts for journal time everyday. It’s a big job, but it usually ends in a funny show that the counselors improv. It’s been so hilarious, I am really enjoying it.

So for the first activity, the counselors dressed up really crazy and came in the room to introduce themselves. Because the theme in camp is journey, we all introduced ourselves as adventure guides with funky names. We then broke up in to four groups called hikers, scooters, bikers and skaters (eco-friendly ways to travel). In each group, we gave out maps and told them to begin their adventure where they would go to each art classroom to complete a quick challenge that they would have to perform at them end of the activity. It seemed to be a hit because not only did the counselors enjoy it, but the kids were laughing the whole time and thought our characters were really funny.

After opening activities we broke into our “quests” which is basically our focus group of people whose first choice for us, was drama. We taught them a few games, we wanted to make a silly and fun atmosphere the first day which seemed to be a success. Our kids all seem pretty excited for drama. Because opening was two hours and our focus group was an hour and half, it was already time for lunch. Lunch was good, we get separate lunches from their poop on a plate so it’s always nice and pretty healthy. We also play some pretty sick music during lunch for some intense dance parties.

The afternoon continued as we taught the same lesson that we taught our focus to the other arts as they passed through our classrooms in the afternoon. It was really interesting to see how the artists, musicians and dancers responded to our lessons, they were so different but equally exciting. We then closed the day for an hour, doing journals, prompts, sharing and the chant. SUCH AN AMAZING DAY.

After camp, we have an hour to clean up and wait for all the students to go home. Then, we have dinner then have a group decompression meeting where we talk about the day, specific kids, planning activities, problems—these meetings seem to go for an hour of about three hours, they are long and sometimes frustrating, but super important. We then have to meet with our art to make lesson plans, meet with our committees (opening and closing), and then we have to read all of our focus students’ journals and comment on them for the next day. This all ends around midnight. This life is madness, but so worth it in every sense of the experience.

So that was our first day. DAM. Well the second day was pretty similar but better just because we began making connections with the kids and getting into the groove of how the schedule works and doing drama. I will be updating you even more very soon when I get the chance to really sit down and write.

Once again, I hope you are happy and healthy and doing well and I still want to hear from each and every one of you.

 

June 9, 2009

Filed under: 1 — joyceamy @ 10:01 pm

Ok, so I am posting this on Tuesday and I have been working on it for the past few days so the tenses and stuff are a little wacky. But bear with me, internet is kinda lame, and I’m a tired little soul. Enjoy!

Today is Sunday, our “day off” so I have a little extra time. I thought I would blog and write about the past three days because I haven’t had time to do anything other than prepare for the next three weeks. I am just going to highlight some things that happen and what I can remember because it seems to long ago and my brain is so tired. So, here I go…

Friday was day that literally went from 8 to midnight. We had people to meet, places to go, and people to meet. On Friday we met the “counselors” or “interns” that are going to be at the camp who will serve as therapists/psychologists for the kids when their sitations seem a little out of our control or are becoming a distraction within the classroom. Four wonderful ladies came in, all bright and so excited to meet us. They are four women who are getting their PHD’s in psychology and social work. The women were older but so wonderful because what we did with them was a little crazy.

Friday was a difficult day because each art division (drama, art, dance, music) had to create a 45 minute lesson plan to teach the other facilitators and the counselors. Their was a twist though because within every classroom, the facilitators who were not teaching, had to act like middle schoolers. It was so much fun for the faciliators who were not teaching, but almost impossible for the teaching facilitators because everyone was going crazy and took the middle school mentality a little far.

The theater lesson plan was well thought out and Micheal, Katherine and I felt very prepared to teach our lesson. I absolutely love my team. We are all so passionate about acting in such different ways.  We were third, so after about two and a half hours of learning, acting and dicussing it was finally our turn. The fourth group was going much later in the night due to time constraints. So we go into the classroom, and something wasn’t right. Something about the tone that my facilitators in my group had established felt terribly wrong. It was a strange experience for me because I was immediately discouraged which is not normal for me and I could slowly feel my mind losing control. I was bombarded with negative thoughts and efforts to try and bring the class together before we officially started another game. We began the game, and the “middle schoolers” were fine. However, still, something about our facilitation was not right. We began to play the game and the middle schoolers didn’t seem to get it the way one of the other teachers was explaining it. I tried to jump in to the activity to be an example to the middle schoolers and to encourage them to participate. I failed miserably. I felt my heart drop and I was having trouble keeping my emotions in tact. I lead a debrief session for my “students” after the lesson and I could barely keep it together, but we made it through.

Right after, the “students” were supposed to evaluate our teaching and their experience. They all said very positive things. But I felt differently. When I get upset, later on I pretty much block everything that made me upset out. So I was talking to Katherine and she told me what I said during the discussion that sparked my emotions. She said that right when I broke down crying, I said “It’s so heartbreaking when something you are so passionate goes so terribly wrong.” That was the moment I began to cry. Most of you know me very well, so you know that I rarely cry and I hate doing it. I was very embarrassed that I broke down. I explained in best detail what was going through my head. I mostly was disappointed in myself. I felt that I had certain expectations for myself because of this incredible year I have gone through of growth and learning and experiencing in order to specifically teach! It felt like things couldn’t have gone more awry. It seemed as though I was also extremely frustrated with myself because I couldn’t stay positive through out the entire lesson and I let the students know through my body languague, which I was losing control of, that I had failed.

Everyone was so supportive of me in my breakdown. I mean really, the week was full of them, but I never expecting for myself to have one. When I finally calmed down and got my thoughts together, I was warmed with the hugs and comforts of my co-facilitators. This was one of the most important learning experiences I have had all year. Yes, I can write a lesson plan, and I can teach, but it seems like I have realized that I haven’t taught outside of the palooza, which is such a gift. Teaching other members of the Ed. Theater community is a gift that I think I, and many others often take advantage of. I thought I would be more prepared to teach a lesson to these middle schoolers, but because of the failure, I was immediately beginning my journey to figure out how to master the little guys that I would soon be teaching.

I want to take this little second to give a shout out to Mr. Robert Keith. He called me that night, just out of the blue and I spoke to him about what happened. Robert, you gave me the most sincere advice I could have asked for and you helped me develop my thoughts into actions. I then met with my committee (drama) to discuss and make plans and adjustments so the three of us would never have to teach a lesson like that again. Because of Robert’s advice, I was able to relay to them, my thoughts, and visa-versa. I would like to announce we have met each other in the middle of all of our acting needs and have worked on some amazing lesson plans, teaching strategies, and tools that we will use to have an exciting, fun, and cohesive classroom that encourages growth and learning amongst our students. I love you Robert! I really do value our friendship!

The rest of Friday was spent planning our orientation and our orientation day performance for Saturday- WHICH WAS AMAZING!

Saturday we woke up very early and began to prepare for the hectic day to come. Orientation was exciting for us because we finally got to meet and interact with our campers! As soon as they arrived, we all found our inner children and played with them. The other drama facilitators and I, with help, lead the campers in drama game before our time to perform. There were about thirty students participating in the games, which are a lot, so we were all pretty excited. Also, the three of us facilitated so well together, it was such a relief to know that the day before was not a completely true reflection of our teaching skills.

Then, the parents and their kids came into the stage we had set up in the dance room. I have picture which I will post soon. In the performance, each art form created a piece about a journey, so the drama team decided to depict our own version of the Dr. Suess classic, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”. It was big hit and so much fun. The highlight of the show was the physical and auditory soundscape that we made to represent a hurricane while Mauricio, as a child, did a monologue about a hurricane that came to him in the form of man. It is such a powerful monologue especially considering how Hurricane Andrew affected the area. Basically, the show was a hit. One everybody left, we were all so tired, so we finished up our meeting and were officially on our day off around nine pm that night. We were all ready for the beach more than I think we all knew.

This is life for now, I need to go to sleep to get ready for the next few days. Be ready for an extra long post for the first days of camp!

 

pik-cha’s June 6, 2009

Filed under: 1 — joyceamy @ 7:42 pm
These are the GL's and the staff having a super random jam session that literally came out of no where. It was amazing.

These are the GL's and the staff having a super random jam session that literally came out of no where. It was amazing.

These are my friends Katherine (my co-drama-counselor) and Caity (my roomate and dance counselor). I love them.

These are my friends Katherine (my co-drama-counselor) and Caity (my roomate and dance counselor). I love them.

This is such a cute picture I got of Mike, my other co-drama-counselor, and Ximena, a music counselor and amazing friend. I love this picture.

This is such a cute picture I got of Mike, my other co-drama-counselor, and Ximena, a music counselor and amazing friend. I love this picture.

Me looking bizarre. But just needed to make an appearance. Life.

Me looking bizarre. But just needed to make an appearance. Life.

One of our two beautfil houses. Jealous? Thought so.

One of our two beautfil houses. Jealous? Thought so.