Guatemala in Peril

Not only is Lake Atitlan spewing with algae and cyanobacteria, but the political corruption has taken center stage. The VP was charged, the president is denying wrongdoing, and the people have had enough of the same old BS.

Just my luck to be leaving the country on a morning where a paro nacional was called for 6am. Instead of a 9am shuttle and a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, my ride was rerouted to 4am and I got to the airport at 5am for a 1pm flight! Of course, in classic Guatemalan style, most of the demonstrations and roadblocks never materialized, and I wound up waiting at the airport for 8 hours for nothing.

Corruption and impunity are taken for granted in Guatemala, but recent events have given the populace reason to rise in anger. We’ll see how it all turns out. There is a presidential election slated for September anyway.

Stuttering on Skype

This weekend I had a surprise interview on Skype. After telling myself I was going to take a year off from teaching, I sent ONE application out in July to a school that seemed perfect for my skill set. They emailed me a month later with an emergency hire situation, and asked to talk to me on Skype.

Skype and the art of stuttering gracefully

I will admit that I have made a lot of progress with my speech over the years, and that I am not scared or intimidated by a Skype interview anymore. But job interviews require poise and the ability to get the intangibles across to a potential employer. So what can a person who stutters do to improve his/her chances of communicating in a positive, successful manner? Here is my short list.

1. Use the video! Much of our communication, even if we stutter, is non-verbal. It is important for the person on the other end to see you. I will elaborate on this theme in another post.

2. Maintain eye contact with your webcam, even while you are blocking. If you block, don’t close your eyes or turn away. Keep your eyes locked on the target, exhale the block, inhale, and try it again.

3. Advertise your stuttering. This will be obvious anyway, but it is important to show up front that you have a healthy attitude about your stuttering, and that you are not willing to hide behind it, use it as a crutch, or let it control your decision-making process.

4. Speak more slowly than you would in real life. Skype sometimes has a lag time anyway, so don’t feel the need to rush. Fluency is generally higher when speaking in a more controlled, deliberate manner.

5. Listen and respond rather than trying to steer and control the conversation.  This seems obvious, but we can get so wrapped up in our own stuttering that we can forget that conversation is a two-way street.

6. Smile! Self-confidence is the number one factor in another’s perception of you. So you stutter, big deal. You have a lot to give, and that is image you are projecting through Skype.

I’ll post and let you know how the interview turned out!

Sherm

Time and Space at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Time and Space at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

 

Sometimes it seems to stand still, and when you’re at the market or walking on certain streets, it seems to flow backwards. So it’s no wonder that in 3 weeks I still feel jumpy and hyper, like my brain is moving faster than the aquarium in which it finds itself. I’ve been passing the time by sanding and restaining some wooden things we use in the house – shelves, a coat rack, a rocking chair –and I’m watching the hummingbirds when they come to feed. Still, I’m asking myself when my Shanghai-addled internal clock will sync to ‘Pana time,’ because it definitely hasn’t happened yet.

As an aside, Facebook might be trite and ridiculous, but it was still cool getting birthday wishes from all over the globe…

Lake Atitlan Time

Here at Lake Atitlan, time moves slowly.  Sometimes it seems to stand still, and when you’re at the market or walking on certain streets, it seems to flow backwards. So it’s no wonder that in 3 weeks I still feel jumpy and hyper, like my brain is moving faster than the aquarium in which it finds itself.

Lake Atitlan Time

I’ve been passing the time by sanding and restaining some wooden things we use in the house – shelves, a coat rack, a rocking chair –and I’m watching the hummingbirds when they come to feed. Still, I’m asking myself when my Shanghai-addled internal clock will sync to ‘Pana time,’ because it definitely hasn’t happened yet.

As an aside, Facebook might be trite and ridiculous, but it was still cool getting birthday wishes from all over the globe…