Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gift giving and packing

I remember being envious of my mother when I was younger. Every time there was a holiday, and especially Christmas, she would come home with piles of gifts from her students. I've received many presents in my time here in El Salvador, but I think that the most valuable gift that I've been given here is that of thanks. A simple, "thank you for making my job easier," or, "I've learned a lot from you," is much more meaningful than any gift certificate or detalle, as they're called here, could ever be. I wish I could say that all of the projects that I've had at CCSA in the past two years could have been completed successfully, but that's not the only goal of the ELF program. In addition to enhancing English teaching capacity, mutual understanding and sharing between cultures is one of the objectives of our time. In that sense, being able to share perspectives and ideas with my coworkers--teachers, administrators, and facilities management alike--has been even more fulfilling as the project work itself. Although it's nice to receive a diploma or envelope from the institution thanking me for my work as an ELF, the simple gift of thanks from those I work with daily is what I will always keep with me.

When gifts are given, I always think "and how exactly am I going to fit this in my suitcase?" It's amazing how many things one acquires in the space of two years, and how every time I travel, the weight limit has gone down even more. I weigh, take out, weight again, take out again. I'm no longer traveling with bathroom supplies or books. I can scan a piece of paper or part of a book, but the rest has to stay.

I also have to figure out what to do with the gatito, since I can't take him to Colombia with me until I find out all the rules on Avianca and see if the apartment they got me will allow me to have a cat. It's expensive, especially for such a short period of time, and I have no idea how much I'll be traveling.

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