Condensed Disillusionment: La Mesa, Weeks 4 and 5

There are a several problems with getting behind on tasks (like, say, weekly blogging). For me, the guilt of not completing things on time can exacerbate the problem, paralyzing me from getting back on schedule. In the case of blogging, behindness can also serve to airbrush any negative memories. Time really does heal wounds, and I find myself having a hard time recalling in detail the frustration and disillusionment I felt during the fourth and fifth week of my project.

Week four continued in a trajectory of increasingly sparse turnouts: only English-speakers showed up, and so I decided to forgo my plan for the evening and instead discuss our common paths as Spanish learners. The evening was enjoyable and the conversation flowed easily, precisely because we had few cultural or language barriers to navigate. In other words, we weren’t accomplishing any of my goals for cross-cultural dialogue. We talked in depth about immersion, traveling, and the Day of The Dead, but lacked balance in the perspectives represented. I left feeling slightly deflated, hoping this week was just an exception and not an emerging trend.

Week five, however, left me with the feeling that my project really was spiraling downwards. This week, our group was small but diverse, and should have offered opportunities for good dialogue. Yet the topic of the night, learning, didn’t spark conversation the way I’d hoped. Even in this smaller group, people didn’t seem willing to speak up, and the evening went by slowly, as I tried to bring up new topics without much success. After, I felt that it would have better served this group to spend more time working in pairs, rather than sharing in a larger group. Yet the nature of this project is that each week the group is a different mix of our rotating cast of characters, and so I can never fully predict how successful different modes of conversation will be within a given group dynamic. Here’s to a heightened ability to read a room and cater to changing dynamics as they arise.

And now, some pictures:

My materials have slowly been consolidated into one box, containing dishware, silverware, books, handouts, and books!

My materials have slowly consolidated themselves into one box, containing dishware, silverware, books, handouts, and books!

Learning materials set out

Learning materials optimistically set out

A gift from Lark, one of our participants.

A gift from Lark, one of our participants.

Sitting down to la mesa

Sitting down to La Mesa

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