Sunday, 9 December 2012

the house that built me

i am coming home! and i am so excited!

i suppose everyone deserves an update of the last four months but i will warn you.. there's not much.

i am still working at l&b out here in little ol' talara and things are going well. my classes are wonderful and they really have become such a great community. every class is strikingly different and has changed significantly since i first started.
the only class that is still the same is my first class, with my 11 year olds. i still have the same students in that class and i have grown so attached to them. they call themselves the "junior stars" and i have a (quite beautiful, if i may say so myself) progress chart on the wall where they put light or dark blue stars under the days depending on if they were late and how class went (light blue for excelling in fluency, and dark blue for grammar) which they adore. 
the next class, i teach 12-16 year olds an advanced class. a lot of these kids shouldn't be advanced, but it seems to be one of those classes where age is more important than level. they were known as the "bad" kids who couldn't focus in class, who talked back, etc by one of the other teachers, but i have had zero problems with them. they are wonderful and we have TONS of fun during class. their exams last month SUCKED, but one thing at a time is what i'm trying to focus on, ahaha.
then i have 13-14 year olds in a REAL advanced class (and i call it real because they are actually using the adult advanced book and followed the adult path, rather than my other class who started as kids kids with very different books) and thats a lot of fun. it's difficult to teach, especially because i am much more comfortable and familiar with the elementary and pre-intermediate levels (for reference, it goes: beginner, elementary, preintermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate, advanced, then book study and graduation) so the content is tough tough tough, but we have a good time. theyve REALLY warmed up to me, so they ask really great questions and get really involved in the class which is great. great class.
then i have an elementary adult class which is just WONDERFUL. there are six of them and they are a little family. we are going for "christmas" dinner on the 18th before i leave as well as secret santa. theyre in that really great stage where they're still absorbing so much but still can't really formulate it in their head and spit it out, but they're on the cusp. i'm expecting by march to have chatterboxes. i will be bringing pictures home, i promise.
my last class is (shhh) my favourite class. as my last class of the day, they make my life so easy. i teach them pre-intermediate and they are the sweetest students in the entire universe. they are so innately curious, friendly, kind, and calm. they really are such a great way to close my night and i ALWAYS leave with a huge smile. it's also my biggest class and i am very very very attached to these students. 

this week we made our new years resolutions and put them up on the wall. i love doing little activities like that and i especially love showing their work off. the adults were a little shy at first when i started putting their work up, but now they can't wait to get the tape and put it up. yup. who's good?

my life outside the classroom is wonderful too. still haven't made many friends here, but i am still so connected with my friends from back home that i'm not too worried. aldo and i are still dating and things are going wonderfully. we celebrated our six month recently, so things are going well!

and about the future.. you'll have to ask me when i'm home! i arrive the night of the 20th and leave the morning of the 30th! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I CAN'T WAIT. I AM GOING TO HUG ALL OF YOU AND PROBABLY CRY AND EAT SOOOOOOO MUCH FOOD. only eleven more sleeps. i am beyond pumped. wayyyyy beyond pumped. and don't worry.. i am bringing home little treats! email me if you want to book some time with me! it's going to be a whirlwind of a trip, but make sure you let me know if you have any special requests please!

and that's it! i'll see you soon!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

prepping for the big adventure!

since i have been in peru, i have only been in talara and within a two-hour radius (although my passport says otherwise...................... message me for more info if you're curious ;)) so i am REALLY excited to be leaving for LIMA tomorrow!

lima is in the south of peru and is also the country's capital. it is home to many mega-malls, lots of traffic and (from what i hear) some absolutely beautiful parks.. parque de las leyends (legends), de los espejos (mirrors), del amor (of loooooooooove) and lots of other wicked parks like that! i can't wait to land and explore!

i am going with aldo, as lima is his hometown and what better guide than a local! most of the trip is a surprise (all thanks to him) so as of right now i only know that we are leaving tomorrow at 11:30am and returning saturday night (4th of august). this week of vacations is something i have SO been looking forward to, and it is amazing that i get to spend it seeing a new and different part of peru.

i had to buy a jacket and a couple long-sleeve because lima is so cold and when i get there i will have to buy a pair of boots and probably some flats too.. although "cold" to the limeƱos is 8 degrees.. i would love to see them out in our winters! ha!

overall, i am excited. i'll have lots to post about during the week, so check back for photos and videos and stories from our adventure!

miss and love you all

Thursday, 5 July 2012

my life is stable

.. you know, i had to laugh to myself after i wrote that.
my life is stable, but as i'm sure most of you already know, typically it is not my life that throws the curve-balls, but rather my emotions and overly-psychotic NEED to know how everything is going to play out in the end (which, for your information, i am slowly beginning to let go of)
they say that people get crazy because we have this absolute need and desire for drama.. we have a deep desire to feel wanted, needed, remembered, paid attention to -- whether it be for better or for worse, negative or positive.

last weekend, i went with my boyfriend aldo and his two friends victor and monica to vichayito (a beach about two hours north of talara) between organos and mancora (which are the two most popular beach destinations for gringos). vichayito is somewhere in the middle and is more of a resort-esque location, rather than the more popular orgnaos and mancora beaches. mancora is known for it's craaaazy parties and is somewhere that all travellers stop to enjoy on their way in-to or out-of peru, but vichayito is MUCH more of my scene. we stayed at the MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE called "las cabanas de antica" which you can check out if you click on it.
it was absolutely faaantaaastiiiccc. on saturday we did an early morning yoga class, then we did some kayaking, swimming, the boys went for a romantic walk down the beach while monica and i took FULL advantage of happy hour (which consequently happens to begin at 12.. cha-ching), then more swimming, pool lounging, sushi.. mmm. it was fantastic. it was nice to get away from talara since aldo and victor are always really busy with work and they were able to forget about everything and just totally enjoy. aldo and i banked a much-needed 12 hour sleep on saturday night after slight sunburns and full stomachs & hearts.. then on sunday we went to a restaurant in mancora which was TO DIE FOR.. it was a heavenly weekend and exactly what all of us needed.

i am getting SUPER EXCITED because at the end of july i get 10 FULL DAYS OFF! i will be off from the 27th until the 5th and start work the night of the 6th.. i will be going to lima to explore! yaayyyy! should be exciting! i will share more travel plans as i know :)

AAAAND, i also received some mail this weeekend! my besty jaqui sent me some of my FAVOURITE underwear from PINK (and my bff jilliann has also just sent some more in the mail with two v-necks.. do i have the best girl friends or what?!?!?!?) and also some of my favourite pens from staples! and my friend kali sent me a postcard from costa rica! all mail is welcome! janalee ferreira. apartado 55. talara, peru.

for now, i couldn't be happier. good food, good job, good company.
hope all is well with you wherever you are in this crazy world.


Monday, 18 June 2012


it is incredible how things never stop moving.. sometimes i feel like i am just sitting here and things are swirling and spinning and CONSTANTLY changing around me.. and i just sit here and watch things as they whiz by.. i think meditating really helps with that since i am so aware that everything that arises will also pass, so i am not too attached to feelings or situations but i am definitely waiting for the next big dip to see if i can hold on to this serenity/peacefulness.. about three weeks ago was my big breakdown.. but they say that things fall apart so something better can fall together..

i took luke to lobitos this weekend and he LOVED it! we stayed at casona, and was once again welcomed to the WAVES house for dinner with wide-open arms. i am so thankful for junior and tali. and i FINALLY got to meet pim, a wild man from netherlands who did the 10-day meditation retreat that i did a couple years ago (remember that? i think im gonna do that again) so it was nice to have the opportunity to CONNECT with someone.. like, really really really connect.

my classes are going well too. they are going so well. i haven't really blogged about them, so i will give you a bit of an in-depth look..

my first class is at 4:00 o'clock with five 10-11 year olds who are just great. it's a reallly really realllllly mixed-ability class so i've been doing quite a bit of reading on trying to figure out how to tailor the classroom so that every one of my students is stimulated and is able to feel confident and successful... one of my students is at a really low level so i sometimes get really frustrated with him. i will write a sentence on the board like, "do you like to play sports?" and he will ask me what "do" means. i got super frustrated with him one day, but i am slowly realizing that i am not actually angry with him for not understanding but at myself for not being able to explain and present things in a way that he can understand. i am angry with myself for 'failing' him as a teacher, but i am slowly learning that it isn't either of our faults.. we're still learning how to work together and by him asking these questions, i can see where his blind spots are and where my blind spots are. i have some really advanced students who zip through all the work, so i am trying to figure out ways to keep them engaged and interested.. but for the most part, we do lots of laughing and have a fantastic time. we did a time capsule project and they LOVED it! they absolutely loved it and it was really special for me to be able to lead such an activity. we are now going to do a post-card project, and i am also planning a sort of daily progress check where i acknowledge their efforts in the area of either fluency (being able to communicate feelings/needs/opinions verbally) or accuracy (proper written grammar) so that is really exciting. being able to create a healthy and engaging learning community is something that really lights my fire and gets me excited, so i look forward to testing out all of these different strategies and ideas i find/dream up.

my class at 5:00 o'clock are my six year olds and they are just hilarious. great kids. there are only three of them (brianna, riley and daniel) but we have a great time. we do lots of day-dreaming, talking and drawing and i really try to give them space to be kids and learn a little bit at the same time. brianna is my boss' daughter so her english is already incredible, but my one student riley is really making leaps and bounds. he has a really deep voice that is hard to understand in spanish and english (his mother speaks spanish and his father speaks english), and when i first started teaching him he would NOT speak english. he would NOT sit down and do his work. he would NOT try. but now he is constantly by my side, asking questions, asking to read, showing me his work, trying to speak english. i am just so thrilled with him.

and my adult classes are going well too. my class at 6:15 is the highest level of english i teach and used to be my favourite.. and now it's the least. the students rarely show up and they are total princesses. i had a run-in with one of my male students who works for petro-peru and i think thats been the root of some hostility of the students. theyre obviously not used to someone being firm with them about classroom rules and expectations so i am still feeling that out and theyre still feeling me out. my class at 7:30 is super high energy and they just LOVE learning. they genuinely love learning english and it is such a pleasure for me to be surrounded by such an eagerness to learn.. that really makes me want to plan dynamic and rich classes, and it seems to be a real win-win situation for everyone. and my last class used to be a drag, but i have FINALLY cracked them. it's a small class, only 5 of us, but man do we laugh. they are the lowest level of english that i teach so part of it is that we just haven't been able to connect on a linguistic level but we're getting it. and now i know what they like and what they don't like so i can tailor my lessons to make sure that their learning is maximized and its not painful for anyone.

i finally feel like a teacher. i used to refer to myself as a 'learning guide', someone who facilitates interest in language learning, or a classroom supervisor, but i finally feel like i go into a classroom and present ideas/concepts in a creative way that they wouldn't be able to get otherwise. i've definitely been able to continue/create/foster an environment where learning happens.. this could have nothing to do with me being a teacher but all to do with having students who are willing to learn, but i genuinely think  that i do deserve a pat on the back. so pat on the back for me.

miss and love you all.

Monday, 11 June 2012

what a weekend

it's incredible how things are always always always changing here.. nothing stays the same for long..

on friday our roommate jake left.. now, most of you already know my feelings on the matter so i'll try to bring some grace into my life and be equally as thankful that he was there as that he has left. deep breath in. deep breath out. released. gone.

so jake left on friday and we were expecting our new roommate to get here on saturday morning. i had been talking for a month that i would be here to greet him but by the time aldo and i looked at the clock it was 10:41. ugh. so i shot out of bed, hustled home and there he was: my six foot, red-bearded, blue-eyed, full-body freckled bundle of joy from maine. what a win.

all luke wanted was ceviche and beer, so after some grocery shopping for the essentials, we went to cocoros for lunch. nathaly, aldo, luke and i enjoyed some pez espadad with lots of cusquena rubia and spanish lessons. luke is so willing to learn and excited to be here that it totally brought back a flood of emotions of when i first got here too.. and it was recent enough that i don't even think i've yet passed it.. but i am very thankful for luke as he is a gem. afterwards we went to cabo blanco to watch the portugual-germany game with more beers. portugal lost which was heart-breaking but it was a great afternoon.

then yesterday we had lunch at brandon's which was WONDERFUL. aldo got to meet the fam and we had lots of amazing food, lots of beer (again), lots of laughs (like always) and it was just a really relaxed, wonderful afternoon.

just another wonderful weekend here in talara. this weekend i am going to take luke to lobitos because he is dying to get into that water and hit some waves, so i will show him around that beautiful little city. a couple weekends after that i'll be heading up to organos/mancora (beach towns) with aldo and his friends for a weekend under the sun and i am also planning a trip to lima at the end of july! yaayyy!

hope all is well with you. all is well here. miss you all.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

peru: the land of firsts

princess janalee has been adjusting pretty well to life here in talara. the dust, the dirt, the bugs, everything has been okay. nothing has been overly shocking or upsetting or scarring or affected me negatively in the least bit..

until the last three days..
i am currently experiencing my very first water shortage. it has been three days since anyone in my apartment has been able to shower, flush the toilet, wash the dishes, etc..
needless to say our toilet has lots of poop in it because (ESPECIALLY here) when you gotta go, you gotta do.  our dishes are overflowing and i'm beginning to smell a little bit..
and yes, i know. probably karma for going on five day no-showering stints, but come on.. i work with people who ask me questions who i need to go close to to see their work.. at least in university i could stay in my own room and wallow in my own stink..

so yes. we have heard no water until friday but one of my students said we will not have water for fifteen days..

well, i guess i'm not showering before my date on friday.......

Monday, 28 May 2012


spent the day in piura today! three beauties for students invited me to spend the day with them in piura which is a big city two hours south of talara.. with SHOPPING MALLS and STARBUCKS and PIZZA HUT and MOVIE THEATRES.. aka nothing i really care about, but it did remind me of home.

here are some photos of my day!

this is not from yesterday, but from friday night. finally a roommate picture :) jake, nathaly and i.. jake is leaving on june 8th, so this was part 1 of saying farewell

a statute i saw on way out of talara en route to piura
the shopping mall in piura! with a starsucks! weooo!
this is for you, mom and dar!
this is where we had lunch! check out this link for a video of the ambient!
 a beautiful little street in catacaos with all the great artisan things! 

 as you can imagine, i was in heaven

look how beautiful!

 three of my favourite things: peruvian deserts, sunsets and palm trees

 one of the sleepy boys on the way home.. tuckered 'em out
the second sleepy boy, ahahaha.

overall, it was a fantastic day. i really loved catacaos and i bought myself something REALLY special..
but you'll have to wait for my next blog post to see what it is!

love and miss you all