One of the biggest hurdles for us in this country is the school. We worked very hard to get the kids accepted into the only english-speaking school in the city. We got on waiting lists, we completed entrance exams, we sent in reference letters, we were interviewed, etc. etc. We prayed like crazy, crossed our fingers, you name it - we did it.
Nido de Aguilas is not just english-speaking, but it also runs on the same school schedule as the US schools. Which is almost as vital as the english. South of the equator, school runs mid-February through mid-December so that students have summer break. Summer is December-February here. (Add that to the list of things that I had never really thought about before moving here.)
It would be very difficult for us to take our 11th grade student (Side note: Senior, Junior, Sophomore, Freshman are US terms - not really used elsewhere) and plop him into a spanish-speaking school. We would have to either have him skip a semester or repeat one. Neither option seemed like a good idea this close to graduation. So plan "B", if the kids didn't get into Nido, would have been to homeschool them utilizing online classes. That would not have been the best scenario, as my kids would not have had the opportunity to truly experience all that Chile has to offer, if they didn't have to leave the safety of our little english-speaking house.
But crisis adverted. We were notified that we were accepted to Nido the week before we left Arizona. YIPPEE!!!
The kids attended the New Student Orientation for school yesterday. We are fully aware that their happiness here rides heavily on how much they enjoy their time at their new school. Greg was a little nervous for them. Surprisingly, I wasn't even slightly worried. My kids make friends easily. They are also attending a school where the majority of the student population has lived abroad. I knew that they would fit right in.
Their first school experience went beautifully:
They had a great time and met some really great kids. Each grade level had 3-4 Student Ambassadors from that grade that took them around the school and gave them the ins and outs about what to expect. There were groups of about 8-10 new students in each grade level. My kids were excited that the other kids "all looked normal". I have to smile. I am not sure what they expected them to look like. Andrew texted his brother during the tour "tons of hot chicks, bro". Alex responded with "Ya!" ...Boys... Needless to say, they had a great day.
They talked about the diversity of the student population more than the tour of this amazing campus. Andrew said that all the kids speak english but most have some type of accent. *I don't think he realizes that HE has an accent, too!* He felt a little dumb because most of the students spoke 3-4 languages and had lived all over the world. They all spoke english and spanish, but usually also French, German or Mandarin. I told him that he would soon be able to add Spanish to his list. It was good for both of them to see that they are not the only kids in the world to be living away from their home country. They had an amazing time!
YES!!! Hurdle #1: DONE!
Just as they arrived home from school, the Spanish teacher was there ready to start our first class. I was a nervous wreck. Attending this first class was a big hurdle for me. But things went so smoothly. This teacher is amazing and although I didn't come away from my 1 hour class fluent in spanish, I can understand when someone asks my name - and I know how to respond.
Como te llamas?
Me llamo Tammy.
That's a baby step in the right direction! Homework is to study and practice the sounds of the letters and to also memorize our address and phone number in spanish (for safety reasons). We'll have classes twice a week, so before long, we'll begin to understand and speak spanish!
YES!!! Hurdle #2: DONE!
It was a busy but positive day!