Education at Latitude 34

October 6, 2008
Did you know your teacher could be going on Face Book every time he or she goes on the computer? Well I proved this could be possible when I met Miss Rey. Did you know farmers are great protesters? Did you know Argentina has some of the brownest water I have ever seen? Did you know friends can laugh but still understand your how you feel?
It all started when I moved to Argentina for seven months. I went to an American school called Lincoln--the colors being yellow and blue and the lockers facing the widest river in the world. But the river is ghastly brown with many UFO’s (unidentified floating objects.) Also, the lockers were outside so there was always a time for fresh air.
I will start by telling you about all my friends. First, there is Ellie. Ellie’s from Cambridge, England and has the cutest/best accent ever! And she has lived in Malaysia for a year or so. She has medium blondish brownish hair that is curly and bounces when she walks. Ellie is very hyper. Next are Andrea and Carolina. The reason I put them together? They’re twins from California originally, but have recently lived in Australia, and just moved to Argentina a little after me. Andrea is kind, not the gossiping type and great for keeping secrets. Carolina is nice and loves to talk. She really understands. Then there is Allegra from Washington D.C but who has lived in Argentina for seven years, and just moved to China. She has two cute dogs. When her family moved to China, they had to leave lovable black curly haired Che behind. She is also one of the kindest people I know. Allegra is quite short, has glasses and light blond hair. Next Emily. She has lived in Argentina for most of her life. When I lived in Argentina, she lived very close to me. She has long dark hair and icky long nails (no offense). Now Blake, who also lived close to me, is really good at soccer and loves to make people laugh. He has short brown hair and is good at singing back up to Gwen Stephani’s Sweet Escape. Storm is from Thailand and his mom makes some of the best food. Storm also can be a very good thief since he was one in our play Oliver Twist last year. He has very short dark hair and has two brothers, Bamboo and Stone. AC (Arthur Conrad) is pretty funny too. He is from North Carolina and is soon to be getting a pug. His apartment was a big help to. At the end of the school year he and his family (mom, dad, and brother) go back to North Carolina to visit friends and family and skip the winter in Argentina. So during this time my mom and dad and I stayed in his family’s apartment. AC has longish blond hair that’s always in his face. And last but not least, Alex, who got the nick name Soda Pop or Soda for short. To get this he simply said “ I like that name” and he was given that name. The name was from a book we were reading in English called Outsiders. In the book there was a kid named Soda Pop and that’s how he got it. While we were at a party he ended up getting stitches and a few days later his brother got stitches. He has black curly hair that things seem to be attracted to. Most of these kids move all around the world because of their parents’ jobs. Whether it’s the World Bank or lawyers or diplomats, they move all around the world and stay there for who knows how long.
Now to Miss Rey. Let’s start with the basics. She was my English and Social Studies teacher. So that means two classes a day of pure torture. To give you a little piece of her, when she is with her friends, there is this picture of her and some other lady kissing this guy on the cheek. But when she is with kids, total different story.
Miss Rey would wear either a dress or skirt every day with her hair either down or in a bun so tight I would find it hard to breath. She had a stool at the front that she would sit on but she would not just sit on it, she would have one leg lower then all the others. She had scribbly handwriting that was barely readable. We sat at desks every day we had class. We read a book that was high school level. But this is where it gets interesting. She would tell us to look up word and she would give us around five minuets when we only needed maybe one at the most. She would then go to her desk in the back of the room where no one could see the screen and go on Face Book for those five minutes. The way I figured this out is that one day in class we had been reading from our text books the bell rang and she said, “See you later kids.” As we were walking out, I looked at the computer screen expecting to find an e-mail or an internet site where she was looking up something important or that had to do with the class as most teachers do. What I found was . . . Face Book open to her own page.
One day in class after writing stories for homework, we were peer editing and asked to stop and return to our seats. She then asked the group what the main things they needed to work on were. I raised my hand and said what I needed to work on most was spelling, which is something I struggle with a lot. Her reply was, “Yes Ali, we all know that you have a very hard time with spelling, don’t you.” I said, “Yes, I know I really have a hard time with it.” Then she kept going on and on about how I was a bad speller in front of the whole class. Happiness was not in the fog of emotions I was feeling at the moment. At break between English and Social Studies, all my friends starting laughing because they knew they would be embarrassed too if this had happened to them. Andrea said, “I can’t believe she said that.” I replied with a simple, “I know,” but was glad to have the empathy of my friends. This was after I was courageous enough to raise my hand in her class and admit my weakness in writing.
When reading the book, Outsiders (where Alex got his nickname), there is a girl named Cheri, but they call her Cherry because of her red hair. In Miss Rey’s class we would take notes for each chapter we read. We read about one or two chapters per night. The next morning in class we shared notes in class. So one person in my class said there was a girl named Cheri, called Cherry because of her red hair—kind of like Ali (because I have red hair). Miss Rey turned slowly from the person and with her evil glare and phony accent said, “No, she’s more of a carrot head.” My friends could barely hold back their laughs. Good thing I got my friends on my side. After class was over, my friends and I, including Ellie, Andrea, Storm and Blake, ran around telling everyone the latest Miss Rey news and laughing. She called me a carrot head. It’s funny, it’s mean, and it’s really cheesy. Thanks a lot Miss Rey.
When playing wall ball, my friends (see above listed) and I could talk on and on and on about the things we disliked about Miss Rey.
In Miss Rey’s class we used computers quite a bit for word processing some documents for English. One day we were running a little bit behind and she said, “as soon as you are done print it and go back to the classroom and you can go.” Almost everyone had gone except for me and about two other people, one being Ellie. I had printed my story and Ellie was just about to print hers. I promised her that I would wait for her. So, I was waiting and as Ellie went to get her paper from the printer Miss Rey saw me standing there. I could see the anger rise in her body all the way to her face. She said, “Ali, I told you to go straight back to the class after you printed your paper.” I said in my defense, “I am sorry I was just waiting for Ellie because I promised her I would.” Miss Rey, who by now was practically yelling exclaimed, “But those are not the instructions I gave you. GO BACK TO THE CLASSROOM NOW!” I quickly rushed back to the classroom with Ellie following closely behind. I think her bun was a little extra tight that day. I felt so crumbly, like one wrong move and my English and Social Studies life could fall apart. Between that and the wild protesting, field-burning farmers, I was having a wild week.
The farmers were burning fields to protest taxes the government had placed on crops they were trying to export. Since most of our day was outside, we were coughing all the time. The air was black and thick. One girl even brought a gas mask to school.
On about the second week of school, the day after the computer lab incident, she called me to stay after class. When all the kids had left, she said, “Now Ali, you need to follow instruction better. The first week I gave you an exception because everything was new, but now it is the second week of school and that is not acceptable anymore.” I thought I had been doing pretty well considering I had just moved to a new country and had only gotten in trouble for little things like talking in class, but nothing big. It was a HUGE shock to me.
I learned from this experience that some teachers are not always going to be great. And then, sometimes a person is going to have those like Miss Rey that are all out terrible. But I also learned that there is a lot to learn from almost everyone and everything. From my friends I learned that they can turn a hard situation upside down, from Argentina I learned don’t drink from the river and don’t mess with the farmers. From Miss Rey the lesson was—don’t mess with the bun. (And I wasn’t even her least favorite student.)

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