Week 1, Chile tour

Before I launch into next week, I want to write about what a great tour this has been! 

I began the week at Andrée English School, in their nice new library. I like to be surrounded by books, and this was appropriate, as it was Book Week in Chile (or worldwide?). I told stories to students who were ten to twelve years old, easily getting them to join in on the silly parts. I'm always anxious on the first day of a tour. I usually have slept badly and I don't yet know the school culture or English level of the students. I needn't have worried this week. 

At all the schools, I show the US map to explain where I'm from and also to give the kids a chance to get used to my accent and pacing. I've begun showing them mycrooked fingers at the outset, explaining that if I don't, they might get distracted during the stories. 

On Tuesday we (my excellent tour manager, Sofi and I) went to the high school of Colegio Alemana, the German school here. [Note to US readers: "colegio" means high school and younger, not university level.] This was the first time the older kids at this school had heard a storyteller and they were an amazing audience. They asked questions like, "What motivates you to be a storyteller?" I wrote about that in a newsletter last week and will probably reprint the article on this blog later. 

Wednesday I visited the primary section of the German School. These students study in Spanish and German, so English is their third language. Some of them had only been studying English for a few months, but they understood a lot. Oh, how I wish schools in the US would teach second languages earlier than high school!

On Thursday we took a cab up to a combined school, Colegios Padre Hurtado y Juanita de los Andes, where the little boys were on one side of the audience and the little girls were on the other. I'm really hoping to get pictures from the school to show what great listeners these eight and nine year olds were. 

We took a cab from this school to another, Colegio Apoquindo. Though the librarian frequently tells stories at this school, they hadn't had a storyteller from outside. Since these were boys aged 12-14, I began with a scary, gory story, "Mary Culhane and the Dead Man." They relaxed, assured I wouldn't treat them like babies. 

 Some of these schools, like the one I went to on Friday, Colegio Everest Masculino, are up in the hills above Santiago, not down in the bowl of smog in which the city unfortunately sits. 

Everest Masculino was, of course, the school for boys. I had the younger ones, six to eight years old, who were thrilled to be in the auditorium, with those seats that flip up...and down...and up...and down. They loved the puppets, especially baby bird Peeps. They threw him pretend worms and helped him to get rid of the ensuing hiccups (and in the meantime, learned the word "hiccup").

The schedule this week worked out so that we arrived back at the apartment around 1 p.m., ready for a nap. That meant we had energy to go out and explore a bit of Santiago in the afternoons. 

It was a fabulous first week of the tour. The teachers, administrators and students were incredibly welcoming at every school. If the other weeks are like this, I'll be a happy storyteller. Oh, right, I'm usually a happy storyteller. I'll be even happier in that case!