This morning, I got up long before dawn. I watched a beautiful sunrise on the commuter train en route to El Escorial, and I arrived at my school at 8:45 AM. Less than two hours later, I had my weekly schedule and had already starting working with the kids. Although I’m sure that I will have compiled a list of pros and cons come June, right now I just want to tell you that the bilingual classroom is an amazing place. I’m working with 8- and 9-year-olds, and these children truly impressed me on the first day. They are able to listen to their teacher lecture about celestial bodies and the solar system in English. When she asks them to recite the planets in order–in English–every hand is in the air. Older Spaniards are typically too embarrassed to speak English even if they understand it very well, but these kids are excited to show off what they know. They call me over just to ask me questions about the United States and about myself (“Where are you from?” Chicago. “You have children?” God, no.)
One girl asked me, “How old are you?” I said, “I’m 22. I’m very old.” She smiled and said, “I think you’re beautiful.”
Children are great because they say what they think, and I think it’s marvelous that they are learning to express all of their thoughts in English as well as Spanish. I was lucky enough to be placed in a wonderful school in a beautiful suburb–I would call it the Connecticut of Madrilenian suburbs–and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in the classroom. If the first day is any indicator, it’s going to be a great year.