18 March 2010 — Santiago

Hola!

We woke up on Thursday a bit hesitant for we knew we had a long day ahead of us. Hector was late in getting to the hotel but he finally arrived and drove us to Santiago. The traffic in and around the capital in the morning was chaotic. If there is an inch in which to move, vehicles will move into that space. There were a few times when I thought we were ready to be hit just by the inching traffic. It is almost as if you have to elbow your way through the traffic using your bumper.

Though we were suppose to begin teaching at 9am we ended up on Domingo time and arrived at 10:30 … yikes! This was not good but all understood and we set up to teach. Quick introductions were made to the students and then we watched the entire upper classes being ushered into a large room. What I thought would be a simple lesson to twenty students became a large lecture to 60+ students ranging in ages from 10 – 18 years old. This did not afford the McDaniel students to have much hands-on with the students of the school but this was a good experience to see Deaf children who had language and could carry on an academic discussion. The population of the school at Santiago was very different from the street children we worked with on Monday and Tuesday at Sabana Perdida.

Lunch was a quick meal at a local pizzeria as I headed back to the school to do a workshop (2-4pm) on bilingualism with the teaching staff. I thought the McDaniel students were heading to the shopping area (a quick walk from the school) or heading to the national monument for which Sanitago has its name sign, but I learned after teaching at 4pm that the students stayed in the van not leaving campus. Apparently there was some communication mix-up and day ended up being a “waste”. The McDaniel students did not have much teaching time, did not interact with the students much, and did not get to see the city while I was doing the workshop. I feel bad about this and wish I could re-do the day.

The workshop was interesting in that there were two interpreters who were able to translate the info into Spanish and into Spanish sign language. I still find it fascinating to hear the spoken Spanish while watching LSD (Language of Signs of the Dominica Republic) and understanding the conversation. This is how the workshop proceeded and the information was well received by the ten faculty members. One teacher even commented that she thought I was related to Robin Williams. YIKES! I must have been over-dramatic in my presentation in order to make sure I was understood.

The other interesting tidbit of the visit is that the school in Santiago had electricity. I was able to use the LCD and my laptop to project the presentation. This visual mode made communication easier. We had no electricity when working at the Sabana Perdida school so I wonder why one area of the country had electricity while another place did not. I was thankful for having the electricity … that is for sure.

We headed back to the capital at 4:30pm and arrived back to the hotel by 7pm. We returned via the same route passing through the rice fields and the orchards on our way to Santo Domingo.

We walked to a nearby restaurant, The Tartula (sp?), and had a very nice Italian dinner. The restaurant was well lit and the food was delicious. We decided this is where we would come for our final meal on Friday as well. We discussed how the week had progressed to date and the students felt that the trip to Santiago was a bit of a waste and would not recommend to do this again next time due to the time factor.

As we left the restaurant the streets were dark as usual .. not much street lighting on these side streets in the evening. Becca didn’t see the ditch on the side of the sidewalk and fell into the ditch (gutter) but caught herself on the wall, preventing her falling on to the pavement. However, when she tried to start walking again, she noticed pain on her foot. She had cut herself on something and was not bleeding and limping. We were able to get her some water to wash out the wound a bit and tried to clot the wound with napkins until we returned to the hotel, which was two blocks away. We were able to find some band aids at the hotel and Becca cleaned her wound.

A comment about walking around the area our hotel is in … the sidewalks are like walking in an obstacle course. One has to constantly watch where one is stepping for there are metal rods sticking up in some places, uneven pavements, sleeping dogs, pot holes, and even rats, at times. One has to keep on eye on the ground and one eye on the conversation and the individuals walking the streets.

Well, our trip is soon over,

M

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