It was a Wednesday. A mere six hours ago, I was stateside. Now, I’m in a room of a house owned by a sweet Costa Rican woman. Besides her, the house is occupied by four of her seven children and two of her three grandchildren. I’m unpacking my bags: a duffel for clothes, a bigger duffel for books, and my backpack, which will serve as my briefcase during this trip. Not two dress shirts out and I’m summoned into the kitchen, which takes me longer to figure out because the summoning is in Spanish. After a few page flips of a bilingual dictionary (which I stuff into my back pocket) and a few notes, I’m standing in the kitchen facing my Costa Rican host. “Are you ready to meet your supervising teacher?” she asks in Spanish. “Si, claro,” I respond.
After I’m escorted across another nameless Tres Ríos street, I’m being introduced to my cooperating teacher. Finally! After two months of e-mail correspondence, I am shaking hands with my cooperating teacher, who coincidentally is my neighbor. My host mother properly introduces us, says something in Spanish, which evokes laughter (a clueless smile from me), and she departs.
My cooperating teacher gives me a tour of her home, and I fall in love with her patio. It supports hand-carved, wooden furniture; has a hanging sign, “Memo’s”, in memory of her older brother, Guillermo; and, has one large square window that is full with the view of the greenest mountains I have ever seen. At her kitchen table, the tour fully circled, we discuss the details of my student teaching. Not one e-mail compares to the information, the many holes that I’m at long last filling.
To my surprise, she is not my cooperating teacher. She is my supervisor, my colleague, my morning chauffeur, my translator, my Costa Rican ambassador, my mentor, and my neighbor. But she is not my cooperating teacher. I will be teaching oral and written English with four other teachers—three women and one man, and I will meet them tomorrow.
Eight hours ago, I was stateside. About 13 hours from now, I’ll be drowning in a sea of names, for tomorrow, I start my student teaching. Funny: all that worrying—those many days of fearing the unknown and unanswered—all of it forgotten and replaced with a whole new whopper of uncertainty: what should I wear mañana?