Some Stuff Has Happened

So, yeah, don't update for a week or so, and some stuff happens. This post has two parts.

This first part deals with AFS students (don't all my posts?). Two students in particular, Sara and Hannes.

About two weeks ago, we had an AFS meeting. At this meeting, Anita asked Hannes to show up half-an-hour early to tell her about all the problems of his family (he'd been complaining). Should have told him an hour early. He's written down five pages worth of complaints. And they were pretty legitimate ones, too. You know, stuff like his family only feeds him rice and egg with Coca-Cola for lunch, father beats his sister, father works as an illegal loan shark, oh, and his sister stole $750 from him and threatened to kill herself if he said anything. Yes. $750. Anita said later that it's the worst thing that has ever happened to a student in AFS-Ibarra, probably all of Ecuador.

Hannes is like a little child. He has complete and absolute trust in everyone. He let his sister see his ATM code, because he needed help using the machine, and then left his card where his sister could get it. Surprise, surprise, she withdrew $600 out of the bank and took $150 in cold cash from his room. Hannes didn't notice because he thought, Well, maybe those pants cost $80 and not $30 like the price tag said. Hmmm... Anita was like, "Hannes, Nothing here costs $80. You moron." So, the decision was made to remove Hannes from the house. I'm not sure whose idea this was, but from what I gather, Hannes called Anita and said he couldn't stay one more night in that house.

Now, Hannes's counselor is Alexis, and so he should have gone to stay in her house while AFS tried to find a family for him. Alexis said, "I don't want anything to do with this." Responsibility now defaults to Grace. Grace said, "Well, why don't we just put him in a hotel for a few days?" This being despite the AFS rule that clearly states that children can never be put in a hotel without adult supervision. Anita, pissed at all the adults shirking their duties, said, "Well, just put him in my house, then!" more as a joke than a suggestion. Grace was like, "Sure, I'll pick him up at seven!" So Hannes became my temporary brother.

Now, I'd never really talked to Hannes in a one-on-one situation before, so I found out a few things about him. Like he seems to be ten years old. He had to go buy a card for his cell phone, and he says, "Jacob, can you come with me to help me?" I'm like, "It's a phone card. You do not need my help." Hannes does not understand Spanish very well. Somewhere along the line, he picked up a few verbs and latched onto them like a leech. So, "Yo dijo, tú dijo, él dijo. Nosotros dijieron, Ustedes dijieron." And he uses "fuera" all the time, regardless of what tense of the verb "estar" is actually called for. It's pretty terrible listening to him, and I'm an American.

So, Anita found this one family, and Hannes raised a big stink about it before even meeting them because Anita told him that everyone in Ecuador is racist. This... wasn't exactly news to me (see my New Year's Post), but Hannes completely flipped out about it. He launched into a whole discussion about how his girlfriend was black, and since his family was going to be racist, it was his job to teach them how not to be racist. It was awful. The thing is that his heart's in the right place, but he's incredibly childish about it. Number one, if someone's racist, you can't teach them how not to be racist. It just can't be done. But secondly, it's not even the point of being here to try to change the people we're around. We (the AFS students) are here to experience the culture. We need to adapt to the people we're with, not the other way around. I could have run out into the street screaming and yelling on New Year's Eve about how racist everyone was, but what would that have done? Nothing, besides seriously embarassing me and maybe Anita. If I was living with a racist family, that would be different, because I'm black, and their racism would directly affect me. But with Hannes, he's a white European. He gets like, the good kind of racism. So, unless the family goes around beating up indigenous people or something, it's part of the culture, he needs to not accept it, but adapt to it. And above all, not bring his girlfriend into the house, because that's not okay regardless of her skin color.

So, Hannes went to meet the family, and came back shouting and yelling about how he wasn't going to put up with a family that had "Rules" and talked about "Education" and other ridiculous things like that. He flat out refused to live with them, and went on a crusade trying to find another family. Anita, of course, got saddled with having to explain to the family what happened. Surprised at the Pizzería, she said that Hannes had gone back to Germany. The family was pretty upset, having gone out and bought a new bed, new mattress, and put internet into the room, all in the one day after meeting Hannes. Anita, incredibly embarrassed and ashamed about lying to them, went back the next day and told them the truth. They were incredibly gracious about it, I thought, but Anita spent all night crying about it. Being that Anita's my host mother, I was upset with Hannes for this whole mess, and told him he had to go apologize. He says, "Oh, but it's not my fault! It's the family's fault for being a way I didn't like!" I'm not quite sure how I refrained from beating the crap out of him right there. He proceeded to tell Anita that he wished he had just stayed in his old family, the one that stole $750 from him, that he had been happy there.

The end result was that Anita said, "I don't even care anymore. Talk to Monica (the AFS coordinator for all of the students in Ecuador), and let her decide your fate." Monica, having talked with Hannes's family in Germany, decided to give him one last chance, and so he got to go to the family he wanted. The moral of this story is, Act like a little baby, and things fall into your lap. Especially if your parents have money.

Sara has also been having troubles. She complained a lot about her family, that they weren't giving her enough food, that they were stealing her stuff, etc. etc. Anita, being upset about the lack of action on the part of any other AFS volunteers, agreed to find a house for her. Sara came up with a list of demands (written on the palm of her hand), that included a house near Lotta and Alexandra (two other AFS students), a house in Yacucalle, etc. etc. Anita refused and finds one in Atuntaqui, which is about 25-30 minutes away from Ibarra by bus. Now, Sara's new family is complaining that Sara is never at home, that she goes to Ibarra to go out to the clubs with Alexandra and sometimes calls to say she's staying at Alexandra's house for the night. Now, this is not cool in Ecuador. Family, as I've said before, is the most important thing here, and the number one complaint about the AFS students is that they treat their house like a hotel. And this was something that Sara's previous family complained about as well, and now they're upset, thinking that Anita changed Sara's house "de ganas", which means something like "because she felt like it". So now Anita has to deal with that, and her husband she's separated from just filed a petition for divorce. I got her some flowers for Valentine's Day, so that was good, though.

Oh hey, speaking of Valentine's Day, that's part two of my post.

So, on Saturday, I asked Andrea, the girl I've been teaching English, to go with me to get ice cream. She's been feeling pretty down lately, because the US Embassy denied her visa, so now she can't go to New York to be an Au Pair, like she was planning. It was really sad. I talked to the family she was going to live with over the phone for her, and they were pretty disappointed too. Everyone from Andrea's program got denied the visa to the US, though, so it wasn't just her. Apparently, you have to speak English perfectly to get into this program, which is absurd to expect of the people here. No one here learns English perfectly through school, and the only other way is to go to the US or England. But whatevs. No use crying (or cursing) over spilt milk.

Anyways, Andrea was really happy to go out to get ice cream with me, which was a nice surprise. She even had a Valentine's Day card for me, which said, "To my good friend Jacob, who knew how to win my <3." style="font-style: italic;">is a good thing. I didn't have a card for her, or flowers, so that was a fail on my part, but I'll make it up somehow. Anyways, we went and got some fruit ice cream, and then went to pick up Andrea's mother from a birthday party. That was interesting. We go in, and we meet Andrea's mother, Jackie, her father, Edgar, and her uncle, Joffry. Yes, it's spelled "Joffry". Joffry was drunk as a skunk. I mean, totally smashed, completely hammered, utterly hosed, supremely tanked. I was wearing my Peru jacket, which is totally awesome, and Joffry asked me at least five times if I was Peruvian. After finding out I was American, he asked where my Ecuadorian jacket was. I was like, I've got the t-shirt. He also happened to notice that I have an afro, which he thought was hilarious. He also tried to get me to take pictures with his daughter, which was kind of weird. I figured that the best way to avoid these things was distracting him by saying, "Look, a beer!" or something.

So, after that, we went to the cemetary to put flowers on the graves of Andrea's two grandfathers. Now, Andrea's father is a Coronel in the police force, which is the third highest rank you can get, and comes with a minimum 28 years service. And his father was in the army, and even higher up than that. So he had this really elaborate mausoleum with an Ecuadorian flag on his coffin and everything. Edgar had all of the epaulettes that his father had earned over the years, and placed them next to the coffin with candles and stuff. It was nice. Joffry sat at the entrance and cried.

Then we went to the hospital to visit Andrea's grandmother, who had high blood pressure. I got to meet the most of Andrea's family, which was nice. She really played up the fact that I'm smart, studying by internet and whatnot, which I took as a good sign. Joffry passed out in the car, and so we took the other car and left him at the hospital. Then we went and had dinner, and it was all good.

So, that's everything really exciting that's happened with me lately. How are you guys? Thanks to Mom and Dad for commenting, and Ben. Here's your post, Ben. Another really long block of text with no pictures. Sorry. I'll see if I can get a pic of Andrea up, so you guys can see how cute she is. :)

That's all for now. ¡Ciao!

1 comment:

Ben said...

That's too bad about the other AFS students, but I suppose it happens. We had some German exchange students at Ham that had to leave after half a year because they weren't adapting to the culture well enough.

As for this girl, she sounds cool. DETAILS PLZ over im kthxbai.