Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Saturday, December 14

This morning was an early morning for us because we had to leave the house by 8 to be up in Santiago at a Rotary meeting at 9:30. Katie Ward went up with Nigel, and Katie H, Sally, and I rode with Sally’s parents. We decided that we felt really guilty speaking in English to each other all the time, so we made a pact to try to speak Spanish together whenever possible. On the way up to Santiago we stopped at a little cafĂ© to get some coffee and chill. When we got up there it was like a huge family reunion. It was so nice to see all of the exchange students again, even though we had only been apart a week. The parents and kids split up and went to separate rooms. We listened to like a 2 hour presentation about the rules of Rotary (a lot of people said the meeting was called because rotary knows that a lot of the exchange students have been breaking the rules) and about the necessity of changing families (apparently we’re supposed to be changing between Christmas and New Years). After the meeting, we went into a big dining room with the parents and sat down to eat lunch.
Before lunch, a magician came and performed, and it was literally the lamest show on the planet. Then, at the end, he made this envelope appear, and he said “Sally Rohan please come get this” and she went and got it and it turned out to be a letter from her parents in the US. Soon everyone was being called up to get letters, and everyone was reading them and crying. I opened mine and literally just saw my parents and friends’ handwriting and burst into tears. I don’t even miss you guys that much (no offense hahaha I didn’t say I didn’t love you) but it was just so unexpected and it made me realize how long I’ve been gone and holy crap. Then, the counselors started taking down the big papers that were covering parts of the walls and the walls underneath were covered with pictures of our families. I found one of my dogs, one of my parents, and one of my friends holding a poster that said “miss you Alex”. Needless to say that made me cry all over again. We all sat down to eat lunch and talk and laugh about how we were all such cry babies. Then, after the meeting, Katie Ward and I went up to the chairperson of the Santiago club (the person in charge of everyone else), and complained about our club. Monchito, our counselor, is completely useless. He owes me lots of money, he never calls me to check on how I am or even returns my calls when I call him, he didn’t show up to the meeting like he was supposed to, and when I asked him on Monday when I was changing host families, he just said he had no idea because he hadn’t worked on it yet. I also had asked him on Monday if the exchange students in Rancagua Rotary could become a bigger part of the club, like going to meetings and activities and stuff (since we’ve only been invited to one meeting in 4 months and I’m feeling pretty abandoned by them), and he told me that my request would be difficult to complete because Rancagua Rotary doesn’t want exchange students. My only question is if they didn’t want us in the first place, why did they accept us at all? I told Monchito to give me the phone number of the president of the club, and I am going to call him and have a talk with him because I feel downright insulted and abandoned. Anyway, I told all this to the chairperson at the meeting, and she was horrified as well and told me that she would work as hard as she could to fix it. She also confirmed for Katie and me that we would be switching families. When she told Katie that, Katie burst out crying, which prompted the chairperson to ask me what was wrong with my family that Katie was afraid to go there. I honestly would rather have not talked about it because my family is absolutely wonderful. Yes it hurts me when they refuse to be understanding of my culture or when they compare me to Cristobal and find me lacking, but overall they are great and I love them. Katie however is less patient and willing to work hard to win over the family (because I really do have to work) and she doesn’t want them to tell her that she can’t do things because she doesn’t want to miss out on parts of exchange. I just told them a little about the problems with cultural tolerance, and she said that Katie would have no choice but to at least try with my family and if things didn’t work out she would try to find a volunteer family. After a huge debrief with Katie H and Sally in the car about the whole discussion, we all ended up sad about the fact that we were changing families so soon. It was kind of a huge wake-up call that we are really far into our exchange. After Katie H went to her house, Sally and I went back to Sally’s and changed out of our ugly blue Rotary polos and into normal clothes, and then took a collectivo and a micro to the movie theater. Sally was really nervous because neither of us had done it before, but I am super confident about public transportation. I just call the first collectivo I see, tell the driver where I want to go, and he’ll tell me how I need to get there. I know I’ll always find my way. We went to the grocery store nearby and bought apple sauce to eat during the movie.
We were seeing Kramer, which is a Chilean movie about a dude who imitates famous Chilean people. Although we didn’t recognize all the people he was imitating, we understood the dialogue and the plotline, and so we were both really proud of ourselves. Then we took a micro part of the way home and walked the rest. When we got to Sally’s house, we made ourselves dinner, and then went up to her room and danced to YouTube zumba videos for exercise. Then I showered, we talked for a while longer, and I went to sleep. I’d like to mention that the entire time I was with Sally today we spoke in Spanish to each other. It was really cool to realize that speaking in Spanish doesn’t take anything away from the conversations we can have, and it’s actually really good practice. We decided from now on we are going to speak Spanish as much as we can.

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