Archive for December, 2013

Ronald greeting families House mailbox This must have been taken in Spring

A few posts ago I mentioned the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill. This house provides a (free) home for families of hospitalized children to stay for the duration of the child’s treatment. I am happy to have continued my volunteering there this semester. The way it works, is I work a 3 hour a week shift arriving at the house at 6pm. I say hi to the girls in the shift before me, check what is for dinner and then make the announcement for dinner over the PA. This is usually done in the accent or includes the language of the meal the volunteers have prepared. Thus if it is pasta I will make the announcement in English with an Italian accent and so on, always a good laugh! . Then we might have to check in new families, prepare rooms for arriving families, make sure the kitchen is clean, and manage volunteer groups – normally undergrads and usually sororities, I love cracking the whip!

The people there are fantastic, the volunteers, the staff and the families. I specially bond with the Hispanic families as they appreciate being able to chat in Spanish. When I can check in a Hispanic family to the house their eyes light up to know we can do it in Spanish!

Finally it provides for a huge reality check when you see what these families and these children are going through, one realizes one has a pretty damn good life. It is a humbling experience. Since my sister works for the Ronald McDonald Houses in Spain, it makes for a very strong bond with the house. Occasionally they will need extra help with special events where it is always fun to help out. You get to meet interesting people while helping out!

Walking to class on a Fall morning

Walking to class on a Fall morning

I love my morning walk to class

I love my morning walk to class

I was so busy I only went to 1 game (and 2 of the players were my students!)

I was so busy I only went to 1 game (and 2 of the players were my students!)

Two of my favorite guys Ramses and Ronald!

Two of my favorite guys Ramses and Ronald!

my usual view

my usual view

The old well

Delicate Christmas decorations on a frat house!

Delicate Christmas decorations on a frat house!

After another grueling, and hectic semester at UNC I can finally update my blog! I had not expected my third semester to be so crazy, but things got busy right from the start. I taught two classes: Intermediate Spanish, which I had already taught three times, so that was not a problem, and Spanish for Business which was my first time but it was a high performance class, I loved teaching that class. The students were sharp as tacks, fun and had excellent Spanish! Although I technically did not have to take any classes, I chose to take a Medieval Spanish literature class with the amazing Prof. Dominguez, what a blast! I am so happy I have taken three classes with Dominguez, I have learnt so much. What kept me on my toes all semester was getting my reading list approved for my Ph.D. exam. What I thought was going to be a one week deal turned out to take the full semester. The way it works is I have to prepare a list of books (and scholarly articles) with both primary, source readings and secondary, critique and theory for each of the three topics I have decided to study. My three reading “tutors” that are going to examine me pushed me hard to have the best list possible. In the process I learnt a lot about what and how I had to prepare. Although my list was not finally approved until December, that did not stop me from continuing reading and reading material that either had already been approved or that I knew would be on the list. I am happy to say that the semester is over and I am writing this from the boarding lounge at Philadelphia airport as I await my flight home to Madrid where I will spend ten short days visiting my family.

What have I been reading you ask? Well, besides material for the Medieval lit class, I have been reading 18th Century Spanish satire and colonial satire, all the while keeping in mind the Medieval cornerstones being laid… All good stuff, fascinating, and I love connecting the dots and being able to ask deeper questions and figure them out. It all reminds me of a summer night on the Greek Islands a long time ago when I asked my dear friend George Dangas why he was studying medicine. His answer “in order to be a student forever” is now my guiding light and what a pleasure it is to be a student again. To lose the “know it all” attitude that is needed in the business world where I spent all my previous life. To be open and vulnerable to learning is very rewarding as you are allowing all these waves – in the form of books, conversations and classes to wash up on your shore daily.