Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 8:07 PM

Kristen says:

Des Moines, Iowa: 15° F, feels like -4° F

Tegucigalpa, Honduras: 82° F, feels like 94° F

I can't wait until July...

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Olympics!

Kristen says...

Today is the one-weekiversary of the start of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics!!


Sorry to shout at you, but this time of year just fills me with joy. No other specifically defined period (besides perhaps the ever-shrinking Summer Break or the 10-days of the Iowa State Fair) fill me with such joy of heart. (Incidentally, the dates of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing coincided with the Iowa State Fair, an occasion more momentous to me than, say, Halley's Comet on my birthday or the planets aligning and the Earth being sucked down a wormhole in space. Watching Michael Phelps achieve his final gold medal with 100+ other shorts-clad and sunburned Iowans, WHILE eating saltwater taffy and basically anything that will stay on a stick...it doesn't get much better than that!)

So, needless to say, this long and snowy February has been monumentally improved by the 2,500+ athletes celebrating "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." In fact, I have gotten so into the Olympics that I have created excuses to visit family members, go home to my parents, and go out to eat just so I have the chance to watch them. (Chris and I chose not to have television when we got married, so we could read and do other non-television things...this works out really well except for 1) football season and 2) the Olympics. Then it just sucks.)

I have also brought my passion for everything Olympics to the classroom...I teach geography...and the Olympics is geographical...right? So, I have my high school geography kids doing a unit on the Olympics....!!! More than just an excuse to watch the Olympics in class (we have done this every day this week, for at least part of the hour. I had a student go from complaining about how stupid curling is, to screaming at the TV "GO GO GO!! GET IN THE TARGET!!! ARGHHHH!!" It makes me smile :).

Every day we've done something with a different Olympic theme. One day we talked about the history of the Olympics, another we each created an informational poster about a different winter Olympic sport (there are only 15, you know), and yesterday we ranked the problems Vancouver has been having (the sad and tragic death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Luger from Georgia ranked #1, followed closely by the security breaches at the opening ceremonies (Joe Biden could have been killed!), the lack of Women's Ski Jumping (it was deemed as "not fully developed" enough for the Olympics) and the H1N1 scare.) It's heaven, it really is.

Chris and I have a little bet going about who will be better at Spanish by March 2011. Since I know it is going to be me, I have already decided that as my prize we will be going to the Summer Olympics in London in 2012. Very exciting. :) If we are still in Honduras in 6 years, I think we may also try to take in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, since we'll already be halfway there.

I also have another plan that I think could be fun. I was looking at the list of countries participating in the Winter Olympics in preparation for having my students choose a country to write a paper about, and started looking for Honduras. As the average temperature in Honduras is WELL above freezing, I was not totally surprised to see that my soon-to-be home is not represented in Vancouver this year. A quick check on our friend Wikipedia (OK usually I don't let my students use it as a source but it seems remarkably accurate on all-things Olympic) shows that, while a consistent performer at Summer Olympics, Honduras has only participated in one winter Olympics. This momentous event came in 1992, when good and brave cross-country skiier Jenny Palacios represented the country in Albertville, France.

So here is my plan. I think it would be fun to represent Honduras at the Winter Olympics! I think, even with my poor skiing skills, I may be, in fact, better than anyone else in the country. I think I could win a winter-sports related contest in Honduras. Even better than going to the Olympics as a spectator, I could go as an ATHLETE!!! :) I would be my own, Honduras-themed version of Cool Runnings. "Honduras, we have a Winter Olympics team!"

Far fetched? Probably! But a girl can dream, right?

I read a quote recently (February 18 edition of Rolling Stone magazine, page 28) about U.S. Patriotic events. Stephen Colbert, that saviour of U.S. Speedskating said, "Number one: Winter Olympics. Number two: Summer Olympics. Third would be Fourth of July. People say America doesn't make anything anymore. We still make war - that's a growth industry for us. But we can't go to war with every country all at once. The Olympics gives us the opportunity to do that."

How true! Isn't that one of the greatest things about the Olympics? They're an opportunity to stick it to any country that we don't like...pretend all you want that they're bringing us together, but all the Bob Costas-voiced athlete profiles are about "reclaiming prizes" and "taking back glory" from the guy or girl who beat you last time. Just like the Coke commercial that plays before all the movies at the theater we go to, the Winter Olympics is a giant snowball fight, country vs. country. And it's not cans of Coke we're fighting over, its funnily bent shiny lumps of metal.

OK, ok, enough. I need to go figure out which of the 15 Winter Olympic sports I want to represent Honduras in. Well, 14, because Women's Ski Jumping isn't an option.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wow do I need practice!

Kristen says:

So, I had my first "I'm going to Honduras" practice Spanish conversation last night. Well, I don't know that conversation is the right word. Maybe...stumblesation. I felt so inadequate!

I was at a funeral visitation for a woman from my church and one of the Spanish teachers from my High School (not the teacher I took Spanish from, but he taught all of my brothers and sisters--but who was, incidentally, the man who performed Chris' and my marriage ceremony in 2006) was there with an Hispanic member of the church. He introduced us, told her that I was moving to Honduras, then promptly turned away to have a conversation with someone else.

So that left Rosa and me alone. At this point, I should have said something intelligent like, "¿Como se llama Usted?" or even, "Hola." But, of course, I just smiled like an idiot. She was brave and started the conversation. I kind of understood her, enough to know that I had no idea how to answer her questions. I limped through, saying random things like, "Yo soy una Maestra" and, forgetting how to say months, lamely told her I had been practicing Rosetta Stone for "dos semanas". I felt a small thrill of victory when I was able to tell her I would have "estudiantes de Los Estados Unidos y Honduras y todos el mundo" ... OK at least it was something! Most of our "conversation" ended up in me murmuring "Lo ciento, mi Español esta horrible" and blushing horribly.

She told me she had been practicing her English with another woman from our church in a conversation pair--she speaking English, the other woman speaking Spanish. She invited me to come and practice with her, and I really wanted to--but I had to say, "Yo vivo en Des Moines."

That, I think, is what I need! I need to find someone that I can meet with once a week and just, talk. I want someone who will correct my flaws and help me feel confident. I don't want to have to feel like I felt last night when I get down to Honduras. I want to honor the people and culture I am moving into by choosing to learn their language, rather than expecting them to speak mine.

So that is my goal. I want to dedicate some amount of time, even 10 minutes, EVERY day from now until July to my Spanish. I'll hole up in the bathroom while Chris is asleep if I have to to get it done. Either RS, Spanish podcasts, verb worksheets, or whatever, just spend some time, every day practicing. And, I'm going to find a conversation partner. I mentioned to my teacher that Rosa had suggested it, and he offered to talk to someone he knows here in Des Moines, to see if they could find someone for me to talk to. Hopefully this pans out soon, and in 6 months I can confidently (and honestly) say "¡Si, hablo español!"