Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My birthday carnival is over. Yes, I like to celebrate my birthday for a week. This year I was fortunate enough to celebrate for two weeks. I did the traditional Mexican dinner with my immediate family..lots of relaxing in my apartment..a dinner with my closest friends at another Mexican restaurant and some writing. The weather was kind enough to allow some pick-up soccer and then I was on a plane to spend six days in San Francisco with a friend I met while I was in the peace corps in Panama. While in the bay area I spent time at the Colombian consulate downtown and reclaimed my citizenship. I met with Nancy Newton Verrier, author of one of the books I'm reading called The Primal Wound:understanding the adopted child. She was gracious enough to invite me and my friend to dinner and the conversation shifted from adoption to travel to peace corps and back to adoption. We will remain in constant contact. I cannot stress enough how important reclaiming the Colombian citizenship has been. I have been seeking the "proof" of my existence as someone born in that magical place for a long time but have never been able to travel to the consulate to really initiate the process. It was relatively smooth; the women at the office were extremely polite and helpful. At one point we had to make a phone call directly to an office in Colombia to get things done. Soon I'll have the identification card in my hands and full access to a Colombian passport. An absolutely free process because, according to the women in the consulate, "nobody pays to be born". This will allow me to travel with more ease while in Colombia and I'll no longer have to endure the incessant questioning in airports or places where I need paperwork. I'm very excited about it. As far as the teaching goes, I continue to learn a lot every week. Thankfully my students are also learning, although I have come to wonder frequently why 7th graders are so......unique. Their mood swings and constant resistance to every little detail has been a true challenge for my laid-back demeanor. Still, I'm enjoying watch them produce the language more and more. One of my 7th graders went to Mexico for spring break and came back very excited because "on other trips my family and I ignored the people in the shops and just expected everyone to speak English to us but this time I could talk to the little kids and older people when they spoke slowly!" I challenged this particular student to do a project where she had to interview six people...her mom also emailed me to say how exciting it was to see her daughter finally using the language. They both mentioned they now can remember people's names. For me, that is precisely why I'm doing this...sure the language is nice, but to use the language to open more doors to communicating with people and making lasting connections with them? It really is phenomenal and I intend to continue. Near-future goals: -celebrate a best friend's wedding on cinco de mayo! -WRITE. -Get serious about learning Arabic. I got an incredible deal on Rosetta Stone and I'll start this week -Find more work for the summer months!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's Señor Taylor now!

Fall of 2008 was the last time I had the privilege of watching the leaves turn color here in Washington. 2009 I was in Oaxaca, Mexico for my last semester at PLU. Last year I was in La Palma, Panama with the Peace Corps. It feels great to be here. I have reunited with a lot of great friends and family members. But without a doubt the highlight of coming home has been being flung into the world of teaching. I am the newest Spanish teacher at Annie Wright School here in Tacoma (www.aw.org). I have a 5th grade class of 16 students, a 7th grade class of 13 students and an 8th grade class of just three students. I am also the assistant soccer coach for the boy's middle school team. To clarify, Annie Wright has K-8th boys and girls while the high school is all girls. Spanish is in high demand and I'm thrilled to be a part of it all. I do not have a teaching certificate nor a MA in Education, but I was still hired and will make the very most of this opportunity. I am relying heavily on my experiences both as a student of Spanish and also teaching English in Latin America.

So far things are going very well. The 5th graders have been learning body parts and Caribbean geography so this past Friday I decided to mix the two with a Merengue dancing lesson. First they had to direct me, in Spanish, on a map how to get from Washington to the Dominican Republic then I taught them the basic steps without music playing. We used all Spanish vocabulary and then we turned up the music. The four boys in the class elected to dance with each other, even though the girls confessed they wanted male dance partners. It was a great time! The 7th graders will be working on Day of the Dead arts and crafts this week and we will be getting into the Asian influence in Latin America in November. In January I hope to introduce them to the Arabic influence on the language and in February, in honor of Black History Month, we will be exploring the African influence on the language and culture. With all due respect to Mexico and Spain, the students need to realize there are 19 other countries and cultures that are just as valid.

I am meeting a lot of new, inspiring people through the school and through soccer. I am completely elated to be getting to know the community better and look forward to what is ahead. Within that not-too-distant future there is the very real plan of finishing the rough, rough draft of what will become my book. The title has been played with for some time but I have arrived at what I feel will be sufficient: I Met Myself in October. I will not discuss the October we find ourselves in now but the October of 2004 and things that took place before and after that magical month. A good friend has even offered to help with the editing. Congrats to her and her fianceé!

Centered, focused, productive and happy. ¡Go Sounders!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Familiar place, faces and spaces

Maya Angelou, unshakable and eternal champion of literature among other things, once noted that "the ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned".

I am home in Washington state after nearly six months of life in northern Florida. I feel optimistic, energized and ready for what's to come. The details of the unraveling and eventual collapse of my relationship will not be found here or any other place on the internet; if you want to know something we can talk. All I can say is I learned a lot, I sincerely hope she did as well, but there's still plenty to learn. I'm grateful for the highlights of the last year but I need to get on my own feet before I can confidently and completely contribute to a serious relationship.

The Pacific Northwest will be home for quite some time. I have no plans of leaving for any extended period of time and am committed to the area and the next page. Interestingly enough, that next page will include a fair amount of writing as I have resumed the process of composing an outline for what will become a book. Fortunately Seattle has some good publishers so I'll be trying to get in touch with them when I have finished the first manuscript (probably not until January or February).

As for work, my goal is to obtain my medical interpreter certificate. Florida helped me to learn that social work in a residential home is not for me. I still maintain a solid fidelity towards social services, especially with the Latino community, and I hope to achieve that with the interpreting. Only time will tell if interpreting is to be a career but I also have discovered I want to teach. It would have to be Spanish or social studies so if I return to school for my Master's degree the most productive route would be to study Bilingual Education or simply the Spanish language. For now, work and saving is the priority.

My volunteer aspirations have not faded, if anything they've been enhanced. I am still in contact with the non-profit organization in Atlanta that I've been helping translate video segments for their documentary about the internal displacement issue in Colombia. You can check out their website and watch the trailer at www.giveusnames.com Another project that is starting to take shape is something I'm trying to do with my alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University. The idea is to convince the Department of Hispanic Studies to pursue a study abroad program in Colombia. Obviously these kinds of things have to be initiated by a faculty member but the department has informed me they will meet in the next few weeks and will discuss the possibility. I've been collecting letters from people with unique experiences with Colombia including but not limited to former PLU students, academic personalities in four countries, people with diplomatic ties to Colombia, non-profits and a few others. I'm trying to throw the bait at them, we'll see who bites.

For the time being I'll be living at my parent's house in Gig Harbor with hopes of getting an apartment in Tacoma or Seattle area as soon as I'm able to get a small financial cushion under me. Thanks for reading. Lots to be done..time to get to work.