Friday, November 28, 2014

Oh My, how things do change.

Wow, none of these things were true in my life before.

In Vientiane:

1.  I wake up at 6 am every morning.

2.  I travel alone on my breaks.     

3.  I've learned how to avoid being chased by possibly rabid dogs every day. 

4.  I have a soundcloud.

5.  I have a motorcycle (sorry mom), which Erica and I alternate using.  

6.  I do yoga.  

7.  I find the social dynamics here incredibly hard, which is why I've started an Amish partnership with Erica.   

8.  I don't drink or go out.

9.  I lift weights.

10.  I teach children about improper fractions.  

I don't think these things will be true forever, it just amazes me how your life can be so different than what it was just months before.  All these seemingly disparate parts of my life right now fit very well together.   I don't forsee motorcycles in my future past Lao.  It's just what makes sense here (and is ironically safest).  Some things, however, I'd like to keep around.  

I don't think I came to Lao to make a billion more friends or fall in love.  I think I came here to have a very quiet life for a year and learn how to teach.  I'm thankful for Erica and others here, for learning how to do things I never thought I would (like improper fractions and yoga), and for the experience to teach my students.

Thanksgiving with my roommates and other friends:

Invention Convention and (sort of) good behavior

None of my students won at the invention convention but I give them an A+ for effort.  Especially the inventors of the "Party Bus."  

 Please note my student Ford who has dramatically flung himself on the ground rather than standing up.
Apathetic Party-bussers. 

I've implemented a reward system that gives groups of students points each day if they (mostly) don't behave like rabid hamsters.  The "Dolphins" were the first to reach 20 tallies and get their pizza.  

And the daily comedy of teaching fourth graders...including improvising really stupid stories to serve as models.  And probably misspelling "Sqwuack!" but being happy that it's on the board, nonetheless.  

And when you find a secret, hidden note from a student who you thought despised you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Words. Pictures to come.

Your resident part-time blogger, accidental luddite, and street sociologist is back!  I almost have a computer again in my life!  While Erica is in Korea, I am using hers.  When she returns, she will return with a computer for me, which is a delightful feat of physics.

So much has happened, reader, since last we spoke!  For Halloween, I masqueraded as a triumphant, disheveled, and much-frizzled Ms. Frizzle along with Erica.  We made a magic school bus out of yellow classroom paper.  At an expat party on Saturday, we danced all night in our hamburger-themed dresses.  In retrospect, I should probably have watched "Frozen" and come dressed as queen Elsa or whatever so that my students would fully love me.  I was actually smitten with my Halloween costume this year.  This was probably the best Halloween since my senior year of college when my friend Kari and I dressed like King Arthur of Britons and Patsy from Monty Python's Holy Grail.

Halloween weekend, Erica and I went on an ambitious bike trip that brought us out to Buddha park where we stared, dazed, at hundreds of statues rising out of the earth.

A day before our 2-day November break, I decided to buy a ticket to Bangkok.  And then, the next day, I flew to Bangkok.  Several things happened in Bangkok.  I was very warm, most of the time, I drank a stupid amount of fruit shakes, and I went to a big glittery shopping mall to see a movie.  Oh, and I also saw a Floating Market which looks exactly how it sounds.  I also participated in a water festival by dropping a basket offering into the river, I witnessed the sun set behind the golden spires of the Grand Palace, and I saw giant buddhas.  I stayed in a youth hostel because it was cheap and I avoided drunken 20 year olds like it was my job.  And yelled at them when they came back at 3 in the morning and had stupid, drunken conversations in loud voices.  My last night in Bangkok, I met up with a lovely Thai couchsurfer and her sister who scooped me up and brought me to a beautiful roof-top restaurant with live music and the best Thai food ever.  Besides that one evening, my time in Bangkok was blessedly quiet and mute.  My stressed and over-used vocal chords got a much-needed break from sqwaucking at children.  Culturally, Bangkok is worlds different from Vientiane.  It's a big city!- filled with people wearing strange clothing and doing things quickly.  No traditional Lao skirts there.  The language even seemed completely different from Lao, although I know they are quiet similar.  During the movie I saw (in a real theater!), everyone had to stand up for a 5-minute salute/recognition of their King as we watched awkward photos of him riding horses and wearing silly clothes flash on the screen.

Since this trip, school has picked up and us primary teachers have been faced with midterm report cards and teacher night.  Just this Thursday we had our parent night and are able to put the report cards and the flurry to rest for a bit.  Per my Leif Griffin-approved golden standard rubric of professionalism, I passed the Parent's night with flying colors, since I neither threw up on or made out with any of the parents I met.  Unfortunately, because of language-barriers, I was unable to accurately communicate exactly how much of a disaster some of their children are in class, but perhaps that is for the better.  Not that all my children are disasters, but at least 1/2 of them are.  Some days I can ride out the crazy and smile when Ford flops dramatically on the floor in the middle of math or runs around during assembly with a box on his head, smile indulgently when basically anyone in my class runs up to me when I am mid-speech and inappropriately yells "SIR! TOILET" but there are other days when the vibe seems to be teetering on the brink of "Lord of the Flies" and I curse the gods for having allowed me to adopt a wild band of 9-years olds seemingly over night.  I'll take it, though.  I'll take being called either "SIR" or "CHER", the intense and painful hug-attacks, the anarchy, and the goofiness.  Please do yourselves a favor; jump on a plane sometime over the next 6 months and come to school with me.

Christmas break is blessedly approaching and although I have no idea what I will be doing, I can guarantee it will be strange.