My eighth full day here in Mexico City (Distrito Federal) and my third day of work at Amextra. My first week was full of making appointments to visit apartments, which was followed by apartment-visiting. I visited three and settled on one- I have given the deposit, I have the keys, I have shared tacos with a future roomie, and I plan to move in this weekend!
I write from my office which I believe may actually be bigger than my new room in my new apartment. Its my first few hours sitting in here. It is in the same building where my temporary dormitory is- The Lutheran Center- but it is the first day it has been opened to me. And there is better internet down here so I figured I just stay here “after hours.” There is a huge beautiful wooden desk in here with a lot of beautiful woody tones. It almost takes up the width of the room- maybe four-five feet long! My chair is equally impressive- the wooden straightback reaching taller than my head when I sit. It seems to me to be very Harry Potter-ish. I am currenty imagining how to “feng shui” the office- and other articles I might want to bring to make everything more home-y: a bookcase with a small library for the travelers that come through , a comfy couch, some cool pieces of art, a coffee maker? (so far I've only seen instant coffee at the office!).
This morning the whole staff here at Dirección General – Amextra headquarters- made a trek to one of the regions it works in- Tultitlan -on the outskirts of Mexico City. Amextra runs a community center on the outskirts of Tultitlan where there is a huge trash dump and people in the community make a living from scrounging materials- plastics, metals, paper, computer parts- anything that can be somehow recycled or resold. At the commuity center, local staff run English classes, a dining hall, peace education classes, a dentist's office, and nutrition classes throughout the year. The staff there needed our help this morning because a special visit was being made by a notary who needed for some reason see all the activities happening at once. So we were all appointed to do things we don't normally do. I was appointed to help lead an English class for eight 9-11 year olds for 1.5 hours or so with my co-worker Erik, who usually works with microfinances. One of the accountants was leading recreation activities, our human resources manager was leading a peace education class, etc.
My fellow teacher, Erik, and I met yesterday to prepare a little bit for our joint class. I had the idea that we would begin class teaching some vocabulary and then do some games based on the vocabulary. The potential vocab words I had jotted down in my journal before we met included- grocery store, park, airport, pool, mall, college, beach, forest, doctor’s office. HA! Well I soon changed my mindset when Erik suggested we have vocabulary of places and things that they are familiar with. A good idea right!?
He suggested vocab like:
El basurero - Trash Dump/Mountain of Trash
El Camión de la basura -Garbage Truck (This one the kids already knew the English word!)
La bascúela -The weighing station where they take trash
Pepinador -The name for someone who collects trash and who is not a "garbage man" (I couldn’t think of an English translation)
Centro Comunitario -Community Center
Estacionmiento -Parking lot
Cajas de cartón -Cardboard box
I guess it made more sense to teach words like “dining hall” and “cardboard box” than “airport” and “beach”- places the kids may never have been or may not go anytime soon. Erik also thought we should teach a song- I jokingly mentioned the 80s band “Garbage” has plenty of songs, but we settled on London Bridge is Falling Down. Overall everyone thought the important visit from the notary went well.
When we first got there I asked Erik- where is el basurero , the mountain of trash, you told me about? He pointed to what seemed to me to just be a regular mountain in the distance. But then I looked closer and I saw paths all around and up and down the hill with garbage trucks and people going up and down.
While I will not be normally teaching english in Tulti- it was a great experience to see how everyone at my new place of employment worked as a team and came together on this special occasion. I also felt honored to peek into the lives of the people in Tulti and how much all the work at the Amextra-run community center meant to them.