Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Not too much has changed in the past week and a half. School continues to be hectic and the weekends have flown by. Fortunately, my mood has dramatically improved. One of our two buses was working for most of last week, leading to shorter classes and my happiness. I spent last week going over the basics of grammar. The review was a necessity and went relatively well. The material was certainly successful in putting many of my students to sleep. I’m proud to say that I have learned 120 or so of my 140 students’ names. Getting to know them has made my job more fun and has been helpful for classroom management. I have definitely come to see the need for discipline and have been demanding more respect as a teacher. Luckily, I am not hated by all just yet. During the assembly today, one of my students asked me, “Miss, do you have children?”. When I told her that I did not, she whispered to me “Well, then do think I could be your daughter?” I laughed and told her she was too old to be my daughter but we could be sisters. My roommates found it creepy but I think it was sweet. Another student wrote in his journal, “I like you Miss, you are my mother of English”. It was reassuring to me that even though I can be a total bitch in class at times, some students still like me enough to want to be my child.
This week is designated to the Social Science department. This is great news to me because it somehow means that we only have two real days of classes. Last night, the head of the English department paid my roommates and I visit to let us know that there would be an essay-writing contest in our classes today and tomorrow. We couldn’t help but laugh when we read the theme and criteria. The theme is, "Responsible citizens contributing to the prosperity of the Nation". Seeing as many of my students had trouble answering simple questions such as “What is something you are good at?” and groan when asked to write more than a full sentence, I felt that the expectations were slightly unrealistic. The grading rubric described standards that I think might have challenged a number of people from my graduating class at college. After explaining the vocabulary, question and components of an essay, the chaos began. With myself as the only teacher and 35 students in each of my classes, it was nearly impossible to be of assistance and answer questions while maintaining any kind of order in the rest of the classroom. All I can say is- I did my best.
Because we are lucky enough to have such a diverse staff, on Wednesday, the teachers will split up by country and teach students about our respective cultures and history. My three roommates and I will be giving a brief US history and pop culture lesson to students from grades 9-12. To my surprise, Marshallese teenagers seem to know more about pop culture than we do. According to journal entries I have read, my student’s lives are highly influenced by pop-sensations: Justin Beiber, Hannah Montana and the rest of the Disney crew. Perhaps I can convince some of my grade 9 to put on a Justin Beiber concert (as they do sometimes between classes). Although I have been living in the RMI for about 2 months, there is plenty for me to learn about Marshallese culture. Luckily, I will have an opportunity to learn more about Marshallese customs this week. Friday is “Manit” day. This is a day set aside for the celebration of Marshallese culture. I hear there will be delicious food and activities such as coconut husking contests and basket weaving. It should be an interesting week…
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
As I sit in the wonderful AC of my quiet apartment, I realize that I am already half way through my third real week of classes and wonder how I will be able to experience days such as today for the next 9 months. Last week went relatively smoothly as I became more comfortable in the classroom and got to know my students. The shortened classes (due to a broken bus) probably had a lot to do with my lowered stress level. This week, however, I spent each night and morning wishing that both buses would break. I've come home each day feeling frustrated, tired and overwhelmed. The biggest obstacle for me has been teaching and creating lessons for such a wide range of english speaking and writing abilities. I've also found it strenuous keeping four classes of 35 teenagers occupied for an hour each day in a language that many do not understand. Today was, more or less, a free for all.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Today, after a week in limbo- unsure of the grades and subjects we were teaching- classes finally began. I headed out my front door and arrived at my classroom approximately 30 seconds later. As expected, the classroom was locked. I soon found out that the locks had been changed Friday and that the principal held all of the keys. I sat on the stoop outside of my classroom with a number of my 9th grade students for all of first period and part of second period. By now, I've learned to expect such delays so I took the time to read.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Luckily, our second day here was a Sunday, the day of rest. Cultural norms determine that minimal activity is to be performed on this day. We spent most of the day eating, reading, walking, listening to music and talking. In the morning, Val and I decided to take a walk down the coral beach of the lagoon and read on a sandy patch. Lured by the beautiful warm water and gorgeous view, I set down my book to my left, water bottle to my right, shoes by my feet and walked to the water. I stood peacefully in the warm water attempting to register the idea that this unbelievably picturesque surrounding was my new home. After about 20 minutes, Val ran up to me and told me that her reading had been interrupted by the loud thud of coconuts falling right beside her. I turned around to see two plump coconuts sitting in the sand directly between my book, water bottle and shoes- literally within the sand print of where I had been sitting. I’ve definitely learned my lesson: always look up before sitting down.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
About an hour later, we arrived at our residence for the next month; a bright purple elementary school in the town of Ajeltake. We chose our sleeping rooms, “Jikinkiki” in Marshallese, I somehow ended up in the least populated room. We were introduced to the bathrooms and taught how to flush the toilets manually. The trick is to pour a bucket of water in quickly enough to make the toilet flush but not so quickly that water pours out in, on and around the toilet. Never did I think I’d be so excited to successfully flush a toilet. We were also introduced to bucket showers, which involves trash cans full of rain water from the water catchment, small buckets to scoop the water into larger buckets that we take into a tarp surrounded wooden frame and pour on ourselves. After sweating profusely induced by a long day in the heat (covered in sunscreen and bug spray), I greatly enjoy this method of showering. I take my daily shower around sunset, enjoying the beautiful sky and swaying palm trees overhead. Life is good J