West Coast.

#6 Our people

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Patrícia Mota
Patrícia Mota

This week Rodrigo turned 45.

The girls went swimming and then we joined the "bye Summer" party that the condominium had prepared. Despite the food being made in a frigonete, I have to confess that it was delicious. The Mexican food that we find in Southern California, even in Street Food format, is frankly better than what we're used to in our little corner.

All they had to do was provide some non-deformable cutlery or plates and it would have been "La bomba". Long live napkins! We have to adapt.
So, even though it wasn't possible to have paella or cod as usual, we were all left with our mouths burning, "panza llena y corazón feliz".

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We were joined for dinner by a dear neighbor, a native Californian, but with a lot of world in his body. I think this world in the body thing is one of the most transformative and beautiful experiences in each of us. It seems to me that it makes people more empathetic, tolerant and clearly very interesting.
Easy conversation and a fun evening, that's what happened. And although we weren't able to offer our Rodriguito hugs from all of us (I think that's what he was in the mood for), between the three of us we managed to prepare a cake that tasted like home.

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When I suggested an American Cheese Cake recommended by the locals I meet, he turned up his nose and asked for familiar flavors. And so it was.

The rest of the week is full of the usual fronts and Matias is becoming more and more authentic in English. He's correcting our pronunciation of the words "Mami, it's not chárc, it's shark", in impeccable American.
Yesterday I was playing with another boy in the park and suddenly I heard him say, "C'mon bro, this way, this way! throw it to me!" And with each new sentence, it's an incredible realization.

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Sometimes when insomnia and homesickness hit, I try to concentrate on what our people are saying to us.

That experience and education are the best assets you can have, even at the cost of some financial freedom (Miguel, thank you, I've been sleeping better since we spoke ;)), and even if it's not for the new language learned without trauma or effort, at least for one of these five... it's been worth it.

At one of the parents' meetings I attended, it was explained to me that the schools my boys go to are Blue Ribbon schools, which means the highest distinction in education, civics and sport.

We noticed the difference in civic-mindedness right away: prizes for empathy, awards for nice attitudes in the playground, volunteer service to the community (when we take part in the first one, I'll tell you about it).

In sports, Maria, who has physical education every day, says: "I've never run so much in my life, my knees hurt so much!" Whatever we have to do in each class, we always start by running three laps around the field (which is a huge lawn!).

In education, maintaining the Blue Ribbon for so many years means constant work. In other words, if, with everything that is facilitated in the learning process, students achieve a performance below 70%, their teachers provide extra support at scheduled times (before classes start). It's not called support for anything, it's organized from day one, and it's called zero period.

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Maria started attending English classes for internationals in the zero period so that she could fit in quickly. At the moment, she uses the zero period to answer questions about her homework, or for dance classes that she can sign up for, because in her last English test she got above the score she needed, and it's no longer compulsory to attend this period. So, before classes start at 8.30am, the zero period offers a variety of support for every circumstance.

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In Mercedes' case, as she is having greater challenges in terms of reading comprehension, the school has made a reading teacher available just for her, 20 minutes a day, every day except Wednesday, as she leaves early. Yesterday after class she said, "Mommy, for the first time in my life I'm realizing that English letters sound completely different from Portuguese or Spanish. The teacher is going to help you decode, she told me. It's like another alphabet".

And in fact, although it sounds bizarre, the teachers she had at the Spanish institute were always non-native speakers. And the pronunciation of the sounds in "Spanishized" English makes her head knot up, according to herself.

At the moment, he can converse seemingly effortlessly and without a karmic accent. But if she has to read and write, it's another challenge. Having said that, Mercedes' teacher told me that during lessons, in order to hurry up and get to the playground, she gives up translating all the time with the program she has on her computer, and is already venturing into answering directly in English.

Good luck to the reading teacher, I hope with your precious help one day I can be an audiobook by choice, and not by daily obligation, so that I can understand what is being asked in math problems, poetry, or novels.

I also think it's worth it for another aspect that my children are feeling. This integration of all the children, and support for them to integrate and achieve all the expected results, is new. Without having to sign a document before the school year starts (for the first time in 10 years), saying that I understand and agree (LOL), that if my children have a deviant learning performance or behavior, we are invited to look for alternatives.

Being able to be integrated and brilliant, with more or less work, more or less help, is something I want you to retain for life. It's worth it...

Without wishing to appear unfair, I trust this integrative Blue Ribbon ranking more than the segregative ranking that we agree to and sign docs for every year. And which throws the peninsula's public schools to the bottom, not the top.

For the rest, life goes on, Maria Joana plays practically every night, alternating with Sweet, Deolinda, Márcia, Salvador and Quatro e Meia, on a loop.

On our rides we manage to cram in 3 bikes, 5 people, shopping, backpacks and the like, and arrive at the destinations, so far, all spotless! Friday nights in September are still on the beach, and it's a program that even Mel is a fan of.

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What's more, our house in Seal Beach is becoming more of a home every day, thanks also to the turnover of neighbors who leave outdoors what they can't or don't want to take to new homes! And my children are thrilled with these daily garage sales at zero cost.

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At the weekend I was brought home a Sporting-style board, but instead of being a beautiful green, it was rather dark. Surprisingly, with chalk, I changed it a little to incorporate Maria's school motto. They loved it!

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Today I'm writing on the plane to Toronto, to present for the first time at ICS2023, with the biggest geeks I know.
It sounds incredible, but it took a lot out of me to leave home and my everything in another country, without the network of our people. And it turned my stomach. Literally.

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Between family and friends, I have the best network there is. And this experience would only be spectacular if I had them around all the time. It's a terrible price, this one.

Go Rodrigo! I promise to make the most of it and make the gymnastics of a father of 3 and a Mel count! Alone, in California... glup!

Até já.

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