If I think I’m going to have an adventure, I bring my camera. I bring my camera because I like using pictures when I blog about my adventures – I feel like I’m half-hashing a post when I put it up without pictures. (Also, I acknowledge that I’m part of an ADD generation who probably won’t read a entire post without visual aids).
Hang on; let me get back on topic here.
So I went on my first teacher’s conference. It was a two-day/one-night excursion in Tabor. I actually don’t know how many teachers were there, but there were a lot of us. More than thirty. I knew several prior to take-off because I made a point of meeting up with a few people from the language department during the summer, but on the whole it was me and a bus full of strangers.
I’m used to being the new girl and I’m used to being the weird one and the youngest and, you know, whatever. HOWEVER, I also very heavily rely on my ability to talk my way into people’s good graces. The obvious problem here is that not many of my colleagues can speak English and … I don’t speak Czech.
Oh, I’ve learned a few phases like, “Ráda poslouchám vlaky, protože mě uspávají, ale ze všeho nejvíc mám ráda, když zpíváš.” Literal translation? “I like listening to trains because they put me to sleep, but more than anything, I like it when you sing.”
When will I ever need to use that?
How can I describe literally the most unbelievable doctor’s appointment I have ever had? I want to draw you a picture of Alice falling down a rabbit hole into Wonderland, but instead of finding the Mad Hatter she finds a crazy, anti-communist doctor who oddly resembles Albert Einstein.
In order to finish the paperwork for my visa (which I’m beginning to think is actually just a hoax run by people with a sick fascination for watching others run through bureaucratic mazes like lab rats) I needed to get cleared by a doctor. Just a quick visit to make sure I wasn’t radiating nuclear waste or coughing up organs.
The doctor, pre-approved by the school where I’ll be working, has a home office – that is to say, his office is in the basement of a large relic of a house on top of a hill. The basement.
“Learn the language,” my Dad said as we drove towards LAX beneath rumbling gray clouds. “Aside from sharing the Gospel, learning the language is the most important thing you can do over there.”
Every year for Christmas and my birthday my Dad gets me another book of Czech language guides or maps of Prague (except for last Christmas – he got me a “Basics to Cooking” DVD series and I can’t help but think it may have been a reaction to some of my less-than-successful holiday baking). My Dad loves words and languages and he not only passed the word-worm to me but has gently pushed that worm into a rabid, man-eating insect. I’ve become obsessed with learning as much Czech as I can as fast as I can, at the expense of regular conversation.
Of the many awesome things I have and will get to do to help missionaries Jerry and Marilyn this summer, English Camp is one of the highlights. For three years I’ve heard about how awesome English Camp is – ten days of English lessons followed by crazy games, outlandish skits, day hikes and tons and tons of wonderful people. Jerry and Marilyn prepare for it all year and by the time I arrived in June they had already begun “the sweat shop.” Seven of us stapled, folded, stacked, sorted and hole-punched enough paper in three days to make a significant dent in the rain forest. Jerry was good enough to keep me sufficiently drugged with authentic Czech chocolate during the process.