Tag Archives: ecuador

Ode to Sr. Mosto

14 Apr

My Algebra teacher
is 84 now, he lives alone
in the house downtown that he grew up in,
his mother and sister long gone

I’d love to sit with him in his parlor
hear him talk about his life
how 50 years of math
brought him purpose and joy

I would rejoice at recalling
his famous sayings, his
booming voice, weaker now
but still full of encouraging authority

And secretly I would hope for a pop quiz,
to prove that, despite years gone by
I still remember his exacting lessons
on how to make sense out of x and y

photos_cuarto_curso_mosto

My Algebra teacher, Sr. Mosto, with me (in the sweater) and tow of my best friends in 1987.

32 years ago, my Dad informed our family that we were moving to Ecuador for two years. He had been recently hired to be the new Director General of the American School of Guayaquil. I had mixed feelings about going, and leaving my Jersey shore world, but then again, I was 12. I asked him what it was going to be like, going to a new school, with all my classes in Spanish. He said, “You are going to have Mr. Mosto as your math teacher. He is an excellent math teacher.” Honestly, at the time, those words didn’t exactly excite me 😉

He was absolutely right, though. Sr. Mosto had a very clear way of explaining math. I still remember the way he formed his numbers in chalk on the board. He had flair, he had presence, discipline, exactitude, authority, efficiency, and an absolute command of algebra. He rarely got angry, and could handle a classroom full of 50 junior high students (yes, 50) AND give them an excellent base in mathematics without ever having to raise his voice. He simply and kindly commanded respect. Although he never received any formal training in teaching, he was one of those people that were born to teach. He taught at the Colegio Americano for well over 40 years, only recently retiring in 2008.

Mr. Mosto never married, and lived with his mother until her death. Now he lives alone, and at the age of 84 has medical issues, but remains alert and lucid. He pretty much has everything taken care of as far as his physical needs go. I know this because just last week, a fellow ex-alum, Tzely Shalev, got in touch with him. As he spends most of his days alone, with a godson helping him around the house, Mr. Mosto told her that he would love to hear from his students, and maybe some could even come visit him. So, she started a Facebook group and within a day had 1,700 members. Barely a week has gone by and now the group has about 2,600 former students, just from our school alone (he also taught evenings at a few other private and public schools).

Mr. Mosto has received hundreds of messages- and best of all- visits from students! On Wednesday a group of friends from my graduating class visited him and even gave him a tablet with data service so he could see all of the messages we had posted on his Facebook group, and set him up with a Facebook account.

When I look back at the teachers I have had that truly formed my intellect and gave me time-tested tools, Mr. Mosto holds one of, if not THE highest spot.

The outpouring of love and sincere desires to help from so many of my fellow alums is absolutely beautiful. What I am most grateful for is that the opportunity to do this has happened while he is still with us, when he truly needs it the most. All of this has filled my heart with indescribable joy.

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La Gringa

13 Apr

Mirame a los ojos y dime de donde vengo
quienes son mis padres y cual es mi nombre

Lupita Maria, me dices, bella como tu madre
pero disculpame, como diablo se pronuncia

el apellido de tu padre? y cuando
abres la boca nadie te entiende

People look at me and ask
where do you come from?

and I know there will never be
a simple answer to that question

my face does not match
my name does not match

my voice does not match
it’s a trifecta of confusion

you must be Native American
I say I am of the tribe of New Jersey

But you don’t have an accent,
what exit? they smirk

105 and 109, I reply
with authority and pride

So where did Lupe come from?
It’s my mother’s name

Is she Mexican?
No, she is Ecuadorean

Oh, that explains it
the Incan connection

your English is so good
I’ve been speaking it since birth

but their eyes have glazed over
and they will never really know

who I am, and most importantly
where I come from

image

Away with Words

4 Mar

the words came over the mountains
as we rumbled around blind curves
on the dirt roads of the Andes
heart lodged high in my throat
trying to read a book, needing some air
because it all took my breath away

the words came over the mountains
the ones I could not capture
with the short lens of my Pentax
the sparkle and hues of the valleys
majestic yet humble pastoral scenes
punctuated by colorful forms with bent backs

the words came over the mountains
honking their horns before hairpin curves
casting a golden light on the clouds at my feet
nestling in the furrows of the patchwork hills
clinging to rocks like lichens above the treeline
catching my eye with your smile from the backseat

I was unaware, but those words became everything
everything I wanted to capture
everything that touched my soul
everything that made me yearn
everything that made my heart sing
everything I wanted to share
everything that brought me to my knees
everything about you
inspiring everything that was me
and wanting, wanting
to somehow give it back
wanting to whisper it in your ear
but never knowing how

Today, Anthony Desmond over at Dverse challenged us to write a poem  that is influenced by certain times in your life that made you the poet you are today. I can trace poem-writing to when I was 8 years old, but the desire and need to write poetry sprang up somewhere in my mid-teens. I can remember distinctly wanting to express things in a way that I had not figured out yet. So, this poem is about that time in my life, specifically about a trip through the Andes, or rather several trips that my mind has put all together into one.

“The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment… by writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.” – Walt Whitman

*Note about the photos: I originally posted a pic of my brother and I at Ingapirca because I thought that all of my other photos of the Andes were all gone. Well, the very next day after I posted this poem, while I was going through stuff, preparing to move, I found this set of photos that are all from that very trip that my poem is about! Serendipity 🙂

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