domingo, outubro 29, 2006

We have a victory here in Brasil today. Lula, the worker's party (PT) candidate, has been reelected as president. Despite corruption in the party, the right choice has been made. A similar challege is happening in the U.S.A., where everyone can make a difference. The problem is, in the States, we are not required to vote. Here in Brasil it's the law. Help make the turn out in the U.S.A. voluntarily the same. Click below for more info!

Call For Change

segunda-feira, outubro 23, 2006

I am not one to gossip, however....

Since the beginning of the year, I get the feeling that our school is one giant window and the glass is slowly cracking from one little fracture, one little rock that hit, who this rock is, I will not reveal. Maybe it's more than one, I will give the rock some credit.

Since the duplo of teachers broke their contract and left in September of last year, I have spoken much more with the foreign hired teachers, just to get a perspective. There is so much of this "they get" and "we don't get" feeling that these dialogues are sort of difficult. Yet it seems even after the lessons of last year, nothing has really been done to resolve the abandonment issues the school seems to have.

Reports have told me that teachers come here without full paper work, or even a clear contract by the school, with promises of luxery and live it up on the beach life. What they get is an apartment that needs painting, with only one working toilet for the whole family (when there are 3 bathrooms), no advice about life in Brasil, and no help dealing with culture and language barriers. One teacher had a $2000 phone bill, due to long distance rates and the way that the phone company counts the "pulses" in a call. Had someone told her some of this common knowledge, or even just given a small booklet, outlining some "differences" between say, the States and Brasil, this probably could have been avoided. Now she is working virtually for free, having the money from her paycheck withdrawn to pay for one month of calls. Shortly after this shock, the electricity was shut off at their house. Why? Well, because they didn't know where to go to pay the bill and no one bothered to tell them how bill paying works here. When inquiring at the school, the explanation was "oh, yeah, we have someone who will take care of that for you, we just forgot about it."

Another teacher is reportedly so pissed off at the school that she decided not to go to work on Friday. Since her phone wasn't working (she has been trying to get the school to help her fix the phone since she moved here in July), she just didn't bother to call and tell anyone that she wouldn't be showing up. Since no one could get a hold of her by phone, they had to personally go looking for her at her apartment on Saturday. I cannot imagine what might have been said.

This year the school implemented a buddy system, pairing a veteran teacher with a new one, to try to coushine the fall I think. It isn't entirely clear if this was a school decision, or it was an initiative of the veteran teachers. So far, it doesn't seem to be very effective, considering we are still having these problems. I went and spent the day with a friend/new teacher (who is not my assigned buddy, by the way) and heard all these horror stories, how awful the culture shock has been, and how abandonded by the school they feel. It was a lovely day and I think we are both the better for it. From what I understand, this is not at all typical of international schools (one of these new teachers has taught in 15 different countries). So the question remains, why does it happen here? Year after year. After loosing two teachers for exactly these reasons and I am hearing now. It's like de ja vú. And the crack just keeps getting bigger.

sábado, outubro 21, 2006

Ju started drawing circles today. But only with the left hand. So is he left handed?

domingo, outubro 15, 2006

New developments in the land of Ju-

He says "appooo" for apple, but he also says it for sapo, which is frog in Portuguese. I hope he doesn't get them confused.

When he wants me to do something, he will pinch my leg or pull my clothing in an attempt to get me to obey. If that doesn't work, he sits on the floor and screams.

He is a moncheechee doll when he doesn't want you to put him down; I can now let go and he hangs with no help from mom.

He runs around the house saying "nahnoh nahnoh" and waggeling his finger in the air (guess what word he hears a lot these days).

He loves to have a "job" like move all the shoes from one side of the room to the other, water the plants, or clean up the crayons. It's only a matter of time before I make him sweep the floor (that's why we have children, to do the everyday chores for us).

sábado, outubro 14, 2006

How much money would convince you to renounce a political post? Do you think it would make a joke of your profession or gender? Anyone who was here in May of 2004 may remember the plethora of political banners that dotted the city. I distinctly remember one of a bleached blonde who seemed to be naked in the shoulders-up-photo, whose slogan was something like "everything for sport." Her name was/is Milena (not sure about spelling) and I have Googled all kinds of things trying to find a photo of her to post here, but to no success. At the time I first saw her banners, I could not believe that it was seriously a political campaign, or that anyone would take her seriously as a politician. The pictures clearly sold sex, in my opinion, and although that is not uncommon here, I couldn't believe it was THAT accepted that one would seriously use it as a political strategy, feminist ideals aside. If she got votes, seriously, what were these people thinking.

On the back of a bus yesterday, I saw a no-longer-shocking picture of a woman apparently nude, the focus of the camera on her face, but passing over her sultry arched up rear end, with some extremely small text printed underneath. I didn't think much of it at that precise moment - being here kind of desensitizes you to this kind of display. Consequently, a Brasilian friend who also happened to see it started to chat about the text which I had so quickly dismissed, something to the effect of "I renouced my political post to pose nude." Oh really, and wouldn't you know, it's Milena ass I was so passively staring at! I guess she sure as hell sold some image of herself during that campaign, I mean, to go from would-be politician to nude model in a famous magazine in less than two years, that has to count for something! And just in case we were confused, or wanted to make lewd comments about the fact that she seems to think it's not at all strange to run for political office and then pose nude, well she is publicly renouncing it on the back of a city bus! That's public relations for you.

I cannot actually see this seriously happening in the States, but I could be wrong. What's worse, a semi-sex scandal such as this wrapped up in politics, or the government lying to and spying on it's citizens? Hmmmmm....

Here we go, a nice photo. Apparently she is even younger than me....

If you want to read more about it in Portuguese check this out.

sábado, outubro 07, 2006

Politics. I used to live for Politics. Maybe that's because I was force fed Public Radio when I was a kid, rollerskating in the basement of the Natural Science building at MSU while my mother sorted dead insects in alcohol, deep in a lab full of large aquariums of fish, with the radio as our only vocal company. Little did I know I would mirror this almost to a T less than 7 years later, except my bugs would be rotting on sticky traps and my lab had no nice windows, being in the middle of the building, well below the ground, and severely lacking in fish. Maybe it's because I came of age at a time that was not major election year, but was given my first chance to vote for president when Nader was my choice, and all the controversy that followed wasn't my fault because I wasn't a resident of Florida. Maybe it's because in college we all try to stretch our political wings and become disillusioned with our own independence, thinking we can actually change the world, participating in rallies, painting the rock, writing things in chalk in the middle of the night.

When I first moved here, I couldn't live without NPR. I logged onto the internet nearly every single night, using our free dialup between 12am and 6am when the phone rates were cheaper, only to be frustrated by the unbelievably slow connection and the choppy feed. After Velox (AV) I used to log on and listen to "wait wait don't tell me" every Sunday while I expressed breast milk for Ju to have the next day when I went back to work. Even with my pathetic laptop speakers, it was better than being in the dark. I read Google news everyday, I followed common stories and read several versions just to get the facts strait from the leaning of the author, whether left or right.

And then suddenly, I just didn't care anymore, or something, because by the time I knew what happened in New Orleans, it had been happening for almost a week and been the talk of the country for just as long. Somehow, being a mother perhaps, I have become more and more indifferent, since I can't do anything specifically, and I have more central things to worry about, more significant things that cry when he's tired and tries to eat crayons if I don't watch him, and who really is affected by every decision I make.

Maybe that is why when it comes to Brasilian politics, which I should care about, which have consumed so many conversations of my friends, I am in the dark and not so bothered by it. If I were a voting citizen, sure I would have to pay attention. But as it stands, I cannot have any affect on what happens, and the need to know and understand is heavily shadowed by the immense stress and difficulty of reading/hearing/watching it all in Portuguese. By the time I have looked up one word I missed, the news report is finished, or I have forgotten what the main point of the article was, and then my indifference seems more justified. Why waste my time doing this when I have so many enjoyable things to occupy my few precious minutes here and there.

Hopefully there will be no military coupe or whatnot.