On Eavesdropping

Yesterday I was eating lunch in a local deli and catching up on my latest Kindle download. Halfway through my mac and cheese, two women sat down at a table near mine. Before taking her first bite, one woman began to tell her friend how all she wants is to have a few friends. She lamented that it's hard to make friends in a new city if you're not school, "Where do you find them?" she asked. Next she began explaining that her only social interaction consists of time with her boyfriend's grad school classmates.  "All they talk about is school and gossip. Who sent this email, who responded and who didn't. Can you believe the professor did that? How could he?" She complained of being the only non-grad student and that she felt out of place in their academic circle.

Over the last eighteen months I have had the same exchange with Alvaro countless times: They all speak so fast. I don't know anything about law. You have all been friends for years, how can I be a part of that? It's been a long, slow process but I can now be a part of his group of friends without being a nervous wreck.

While eavesdropping, I realized that being in Lima has changed my view of social difficulties. If I were in the same situation as that woman, I would find one person to chat with and slowly build allies. I would try my hardest to be involved, because I no longer had language as a crutch. I would have to do it because I can already hear Alvaro saying to me, "You can do it! They all speak English!" And that thought scared me a little. Well thanks, Lima, you've just raised the bar.


A few days ago as I was riding on a bus and I instinctively responded when addressed as "Señorita". Although I've lived in Lima well over twenty months, I'm still surprised at how easily I answer to my long list of new names. In the States I would simply be called "Meghan," "ma'am," or "miss". Don't get me wrong, my heart jumps for joy when a Southern gentleman calls me "ma'am" or "miss" but I think I prefer the endearing nature of my following new names:

Meghan (pronounced as a mix between "May-gone" or "May- gun")
Meghancita- little Meghan
Miss Meghan- all female teachers are addressed as "Miss"
Missita- little Miss Meghan
Amiga- friend
Linda- cute
Mi hija- literally "my daughter" but sometimes used to speak to younger generations
Mi hijita- the same thing but diminutive
Flaquita- skinny
Mami- literally "mommy" but sometimes used to address women
Mamita- little mommy


I have been cursed with broken luggage. Maybe I pack incorrectly, need sturdier luggage or just have bad luck, but my largest bag always breaks and at the worst times. When I landed in Munich to begin my semester abroad, I pulled an enormous bag off the carousel and noticed that one wheel had broken off.  Welcome to Germany, where you will drag 75 pounds to the train station! Last January, I flew from Honduras to Miami en route to Lima. Once again, my largest piece of luggage was destroyed.

Thankfully, there's an abundance of shoe and luggage repair shops near my house. For a decent fee and a few days work, my luggage is "completely new" and ready for my upcoming trip to Nashville. I hailed a taxi to take me home and quickly gave the driver directions.

As he began to turn the wrong way on a one way street I yelled, "You can't go that way!" and he replied:

"I was distracted by your beauty! Your eyes are beautiful."

That's the third time in two weeks that a driver has complemented my naturally bluish green with a hint of yellow eyes. I humbly thanked him as we chatted about the United States and I gave him the last directions to get to my building.

I think it's been a successful day. A half day at work, two rounds of Pisco Sours, a repaired suitcase and a compliment from a taxi driver. All in all, that's not too shabby.

We all play

As Peru competes in the qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup, a Peruvian beer company has launched a brilliant ad campaign with the following slogan:

Cuando juega Perú, jugamos todos.
When Peru plays, we all play. 

It starts with a press conference where national team coach Sergio Markarián (shhh, he's Uruguayan) says "And these are those who defend the red and white". He then begins calling out the names of Peru's star players: Claudio Pizarro, Paolo Guerrero, Jefferson Farfán. As the camera cuts to the barbershop, he begins calling the names of average Peruvians- a barber, a fisherman, a waiter, a teacher, a salesman a taxi driver, a miner and a fireman, among others.

What I love about this particular campaign is that it seamlessly brings together all of Peru. The commercial moves through Peru's diverse geography- through the mountains, the coast and the jungle. It's full of images that bring pride to Peru- rolling hills, crystal blue lakes, vivid textiles and beautiful architecture- all things that make me proud to call Peru my home.

The Blues & Roses

I've been pretty down lately. Mostly I blame my emotional state on the sinus infection I have been fighting for the past six days. What started out as a small cold with the change in season, turned into a full blown sinus headache that left me home in bed for four days. My doctor enforced quarantine coincided with the Fourth of July, which left me to sit at home and wallow in my homesickness while watching an obscene amount of Friday Night Lights. I haven't eaten a real meal in days and I am tired of my constant state of nausea.

Too much time alone at home resulted in lots of research about my inevitable move back to the States. I began looking up courses to take in my first semester of grad school, I googled apartments that I will never be able to afford and started dreaming what the next- next step will be.

I've been dreaming about theological conversations over coffee and internships in museums. I've been thinking about thesis topics and whether or not I want to get a degree in art history. I've been dreaming about moving to Europe after grad school and getting my PhD.

Then on Thursday, it was back to reality and back to teaching six year olds about fact families. Maybe it was the hunger speaking, but I was in a foul mood yesterday. I nearly broke into tears when thinking about how I just don't want to do this anymore. I didn't feel passionate about any of the work that I was doing and became jealous of all those who calling teaching their vocation.

This morning, as all of Peru erupted into happiness to celebrate Teacher's Day (because everyone has a day), I was resentful. I couldn't understand why there was all this commotion. I wanted to scream out, "And what about theologian's day? Art historian's day? Don't you know, I'm a fake! I'm not a real teacher!"

But then, this afternoon we had a small party to celebrate "our day". Before the party started, one our our sweet boys ran up to me and gave me a dozen roses. He wrapped his arms around my neck and proclaimed, "Happy Day, Miss!", then bounced back to his table. My heart melted. How can I be resentful about a job that allows me to accept flowers from a six year old whose hoodie zips up into a Spiderman mask? How can I possibly be upset about spending my day getting hugs, tying shoes and helping with spelling?

I might not have studied elementary education and at times I might feel lost, but at the end of the day it's just about loving those kids. About teaching them and helping them and showing them how to be decent human beings. I have the rest of my life to get lost in theological discussions and art history theory, but I only have a few more months with these kids. Next year, when my brain feels like it is going to explode from a theology reading, I will miss the days of kids making predications that water is going to explode in the freezer. Or coming out of the bathroom with their jacket on upside down. I will miss their innocence.

So to all you real and maybe not so real teachers out there, Happy Teacher's Day from Peru!