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I spent one week in Chile in 2021, but this time when I arrived in Chile, it would be for two years. I said goodbye to all my friends and family in Los Angeles on February 7, and by February 9, I was with my Chilean friends in my apartment in Santiago, Chile. Excitement rose in my chest at the thought of finally getting to settle in one place for more than a couple of months. I bought groceries and little decorations to make our apartment feel more like home.
Three days after my arrival was my day full of friends. In the morning I went to a baby shower for a teacher at my school. Not only was I excited and grateful to be invited, but also it was the first baby shower I have attended for a friend! It made me feel like these kinds of events are going to become more and more common in the coming years. My Roommate, Christy, and I came to the front door of a beautiful house. Inside we walked through stunning sitting rooms and came to the dining room where everything was baby-themed with sailing decorations. There were several other women that work at my school seated around the table smiling and laughing. Some experienced mothers, others recent mothers. You could feel the warmth and maternal energy in the room.
One teacher was special because she and I found that we had something spectacular in common: a sperm donor. She had decided to have a child via Sperm donor and now has a beautiful 1-year old daughter. She and I were both so excited to discuss the unique shared experience. We played baby guessing games and drank while the mom-to-be could not. I felt so lucky to share that space with other women from all over the world: Chile, Korea, the USA, and Bolivia.
Next, I traversed the city to attend my friend’s sister's birthday! I met this friend when I attended university in chile two years ago and we’re still close. I walked through the door into a Just Dance (Wii game) dance party. I put my dance skills to the test. I danced around the dining room with a remote strapped to my wrist. We laughed in sync.
Exhausted, I arrived home late at night — but full of warmth from being around people I love.
. . .
Two days later was my first-day teaching in person at the school and I felt butterflies flying into each other in my stomach. I was anxious to meet my students and nervous if I would be a good teacher in the classroom because it's so different from Zoom. I walked into my classroom frazzled trying to find the remote to the projector. I clicked the button, nothing. I ran to my computer to unplug and re-plug. Nothing. I ran around like a mad-woman trying to figure out technology I'd never used but rather I'd seen MY teachers struggle with. Finally, it worked and I pulled up the slides while my students trickled into the classroom excited to see one another after a long break. I breathed heavily through my KN95 mask. The warm air fogged up my glasses and I reminded my mind to breathe.
I loved being able to move around the classroom and engage uniquely with different students. The handbook of icebreakers I had amassed throughout my life came in handy in the classroom. I smiled through my students couldn't see past my mask - I had to hope they'd feel my energy. We moved through activities and I tried calmly to recall every student's name. I survived the first class and my students rushed off to the next period. I took another breath and congratulated myself then realized I had a class in 5 minutes on the other side of the school. I grabbed all my papers and cords and shoved them into my backpack. I ran to my next class and begin the struggle of figuring out a different projector and smartboard. I was so eager to connect with my students but there was only one of me and so many of them.
Sure enough, the first day flew by and I had to start preparing for the next. Christiana and I thought we'd have lots of free time to explore the city, but we've come to terms with the fact that teaching is exhausting and we often have only a few hours at the end of the day to relax. I'm exhausted but enjoying the positive moments! Like the view from my classroom below. WOW!