Thursday, 25 February 2010

The American lady messed up my homework...

Km Hm Dm m dm cm mm

Do those mean anything to you? … Me neither.

We have an afterschool homework club two days a week and I have been able to help out the past two weeks. I have really enjoyed the time filled with giggles, snacks, and silly questions. But it is not without its complications.

The majority of the schools in the Madrid area boast a bilingual education program. I offered to lend a hand to the program and help out with English homework, especially since several moms had already approached me about helping their children.

Little did I expect that the majority of my time would be spent on Spanish grammar homework and metric conversion math. For the past two days I have been as confused as the kids who have been asking for my help. More than once I have, in a moment of exasperation and fear of leading the child educationally astray, called over one of the Spanish speaking tutors.

Yesterday, I spent a good hour working with a boy on metric conversion charts and warned him that there may be some problems with my answers when he got to school in the morning. He said "Don't worry. I'll just tell them you are American."

I do get the chance to assist with English homework; correct pronunciation, help translate, or quiz are parts of the skeleton (yes, they are all learning the parts of the skeleton/bones in English).

And learn that:

Km = kilometer

Hm = hectameter

Dm = decameter

m = meter

dm = decimeter

cm = centimeter

mm = milimeter

Monday, 8 February 2010

What Are the Rules??

Jeff stayed up until 4:00 am watching the Super Bowl this week. At the mention of this, one of our friends commented that he must really love American football. But Jeff’s not a football fanatic. I actually can’t remember him watching much football when we lived in the States. Jeff’s response to the question was tantamount to saying “I’m an American male. It’s the Super Bowl. What else am I supposed to do?”

All of this has made me think about “culture”. The Super Bowl says a lot about American culture. (I only watched the first few minutes and then went to bed…it STARTED at midnight and there were no commercials.)

We love big competition, especially if they involve an underdog figure.

We are relatively patriotic, at least compared to most countries. What is considered normal in the States would be rendered to fanaticism in other countries.

We love buying things, and we’ll buy almost anything if the propaganda is good enough. (I watched the Super Bowl commercials online the next day and went out to buy Doritos.)

Of course those are NOT the only traits our culture has: we also tend to be very generous, we strive for success, we are funny. (Just look at our Super Bowl commercials.)

It also made me think about the other “cultures” I have become a part of and my increasing dilemma in understanding their “requirements”.

1. With Spanish culture it is customary to greet people with two kisses. But I’m never sure when I’m supposed to do so, because apparently there’s a secret rule as to who you kiss and who you don’t, and when you kiss and when you don’t. I’m positive I’m offending someone nearly all the time.

2. Blog culture is an interesting phenomenon. We’ve created this virtual space, but what are the rules? What happens with blog meets real life in a non blog related event? Oh, the things that boggle my mind…

3. Church culture: we all have different ways of expressing similar sentiments. When should we use which words? What are the “rules” of each separate environment?

4. Salvation Army culture: “The Army is the Army no matter where you are.”…or so I thought.

…I’m sure the list could go on and on.

Anyways, we spent the next 10 minutes of the above conversation explaining how American football is actually played. To which he responded “That sounds like a dumb game.”

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Poor Are Counting on It

Last week the president of Spain participated in the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. This was a very big deal here in Spain to hear their national leader read words from Scripture and offer a prayer in acknowledgement of God in a public event.

Zapatero chose to read Deuteronomy 24: 14 – 15:

Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns. Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it. Otherwise he may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.

It is an interesting passage to have been chosen, seeing as 465,452 people are receiving unemployment in Madrid. The fear of “paro” (the unemployment program) is a real issue for the majority of the people attending our church, as it is the fear of most people in Madrid. It is a real challenge as Christians to find a way to minister to the 465,452 people in our community who are passing through financial crisis. One can only pray that we can remember the words of Deuteronomy and that President Zapatero remembers them as well.

The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him.
Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Luke 4:17 – 19