Monday, December 19, 2011

so full of Christmas spirit

December 19, 2011
You know when you eat too much and than you just feel like your going to be sick, but not really be sick? Where you are mostly percent sure you just feel sick and aren’t actually going to be sick, but that is that little percent that keeps you on edge? Well that is me. Still. I’ve basically been nauseous since Thursday night. I’m not sure what is up, but this is the wrong time of year to feel to the brink full.
After all, it is Christmas party time.
Just like last year we had a Christmas program. And it was just like last year. Kindergarten said their poem. First grade danced to ‘All I want for Christmas is You’. Second to ‘Jingle Bell Rock’. Each grade did the same things. It is just as cute to see new kids doing it, so I’m not complaining.
This year when it came time to have class parties my principal ushered me into the conference hall and told me to wait at a table with nine chairs. Not sure what was up, I listened and sat. Than she came back and some other staff, and one by one all these teachers brought us plates of food from their class parties. There was amazing lechon. Delicious adobo. Fried chicken. Lots and lots of rice. Boiled bananas. Puto. Pansit. So much food and they just stand there watching. So I spent the afternoon convincing my stomach I wasn’t actually going to be sick, it was just a feeling.
Than on to my classroom where there was another plate of food waiting for me. Tonight on to a party where there was more food.
Too much food, too little stomach.

32-point turns in a bus

December 17, 2011
I’ve spent the day in bed listening to Elvis lament about snow, wishing the rain was loud enough to drown out the day care Christmas party that has been listening to ‘Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ for the past 4 hours, wanting some Ginger Ale and saltines for my stomach. Quite a contrast to yesterday, except for my stomach not being happy.
Friday I went on a field trip with my teachers. Coming into it I knew nothing, other than departure was 6:00am. So, I rolled out of bed at 6:00, got ready, and walked to school where I saw all my teachers wearing yellow (no one told me, I was in gray), bundled up in coats to get on the three charter buses (no one told me, no protection from the AirCon). There I sat on the bus and waited about an hour to leave. The bus stopped about two hours in and a half dozen teachers got off and were sick on the side of the road (I’d been feeling kind of sick since I went to bed, but no incident). Than we drove on and stopped, this time to turn around. Three giant busses turning around on a narrow road no wider than most peoples drive ways.
We’d been invited to visit a school that was really nice. It had a bunch of stuff my teachers wanted but probably won’t ever get. Than from there we got back on the bus for the beach. All the teachers asked if I had my swimsuit (no one told me, so waray). We drove down the road a bit and turned around again. We set up at a resort to eat lunch (no one told me, so no bag lunch). There was plenty of rice and food to share and it wasn’t soon until teachers were throwing back warm beer, with questionable ice, and warm coke. I declined, claiming something about my stomach and the bus. No one of the teachers went swimming.
After enough food and drink we all piled back in the busses to head back, right as it started to rain and get dark.  We didn’t make any stops this time, but people were still sick and calling for plastic bags through out. Again I maintained, but I didn’t feel good.
We were suppose to go to an integrated party in the plaza but I didn’t feel that good, so I went home with several other teachers and my principal.
Despite the stomach it was a nice break away from site, and I was glad they included me.

They made me pose with some local pupils.

All the school heads for Alangalang

second time around

December 8, 2011
How did it get to be one full week into December already? It is weird to me that from here on out most things I do I’ve probably done before. So my actions and thoughts so far.
I’ve been super busy helping to plan an HIV/Aids training that didn’t happen. At first it was suppose to be last Monday and Tuesday but DepEd didn’t approve it. Then it was suppose to be today, tomorrow, and Saturday, but the caterers bailed yesterday so we are postponing. It’s been a lot of work and I’m very grateful for all the volunteers who’ve helped. I was asked by D’s old counterpart to help, and I couldn’t say no to the sustainability that was going on. We are hoping for January now.
I’m glad I’d had this to focus on coming back from break, because school has been a bit less than school like. Last week was a Pres Conf that they were prepping for like crazy. This week (today actually) was English Month culmination so we prepped for that. I got in some great bonus lessons with my kids, one I posted about already. We also wrote amazing stories and played hilarious charades. These kids are amazing. Also, I got some pen pal letters all the way from New Mexico that all my kids were so stoked for.
Friday we lighted the trees in the Plaza. They will be judged three times and the winning tree gets some sort of major reward, but I don’t know what. It was a nice activity, formal like things tend to be here, but not quite boring. We even got to light those floating lanterns. I’m excited for Christmas in the Philippines again.
Sunday a volunteer in Tacloban and I ran a 5k. Philippines Red Cross was having a Million Volunteer Run. It was a great event and I’m glad I didn’t have to do it alone. There were maybe 500 hundred of us and M and I were the only foreigners that participated.
The English competion today was a great event. The kids really love events like this. They kept saying, “You will picture me?” Meaning I should take their pictures. It was like last year, but with less events.
Tomorrow is the LGU sponsored teacher day. Last year it was food, rewards, and free mugs. I let you know if it is any different this year.
Just like last year December is packed full of activities but not much is getting done. This really bugs the American in me; the Filipino in me (I feel like I can start to say that now) is really embracing it.

Monday, December 05, 2011

out of country teaching experience

Today is very weird. Sometimes you show up to school and no one is there. The SPED teachers are at an intensive training, but my counterpart opted not to go, and not to cancel class.
Thursday is our English month district culmination. We are a bit late to celebrate. November is English month and for the second year in a row (whoa, that is a weird thought) I'm surprised at how little English is taught during English Month. We are having class so she can sit in the canteen and review for Thursday with the students who will be competing.
So, here I sit in the classroom with the rest of the students. There are no students outside. I have only 20 students in the class. No one is sharing desks. I told them to get partners and write a story. They are working hard and not shouting. The only talking is working talk.
If I didn't know any better, and if we weren't working through a brown out, I'd think I was teaching in the States.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

hand jive turkey man!

Here are my students for grade 5 and 6 making their hand turkeys.
Decorating the turkeys!

Tracing our hands!

Awesome desks without seats on them!
Showing off the turkeys!

Friday, November 25, 2011

go on... shake your tail feathers!

I was so excited for my Thanksgiving lesson on Thursday, which is probably why I was mad when they said there weren't going to be classes on Thursday because Nestle or some other brand was coming to the school to talk to the kids.
So I did what I tend to do, I went to the mall. To be fair I was able to get a bunch of things that needed to be done done. I got some phone time in with the family and filed some paperwork and sent some emails. Then C joined me and we did the most Thanksgiving thing we could think of. We went to KFC. Fried chicken, rice, brown gravy, and 2 orders of mashed potatoes was close enough for me.
Yesterday I did my Thanksgiving lesson and it was awesome. First we made hand turkeys. Then we labeled each tail feather with something we are thankful for. After we wrote paragraphs for each tail feather,  and if they kids were fast they could really decorate their turkeys.
Here are my tail feathers in no particular order, except family always come first.
Family and Friends I've always been super blessed and lucky to have the family and friends I have, but being here one whole year+ has made me realize this even more. I'm very thankful for the communication evaluable to me with them. I am for sure who I am because they are who they are.
Filipinos I've been able to put myself in a great oppurtunity to serve and even though I some times feel worthless I think I'm atleast doing something good. I'm thankful for how welcoming they have been to me. I love how nice and curious, and just good they are.
Fresh Fruit I'm thankful that I can eat a ripe mango every day of the week. I've said it before, I'll say it again between the mango, pineapple and other local fruits this is my favorite thing here. The mangos may be the thing I miss the most when I go home in a year.
Books I'm thankful I can read. I'm thankful I'm educated. I've always been. Here though, I've really found that love has strengthened. I spend way too much of my allowance on books, I miss my book club, but am thankful to have a reading culture with the volunteers near me.
And one more, because something awesome happened  between grade 5 and grade 6 class, I got a care package. As well as a Nat Geo, but still no pen pal letters. I'm thankful for mail so much. It really really makes a difference to get  something and know that people out there are thinking of me.
I know it is late, but Happy Thanksgiving!

battle of midway

November 23, 2011
Last week was my Mid-Service Training, which means I’m midway through this thing. Which means I have one more year! That is kind of scary. Last week was kind of scary also. Part of MST is meetings with dental and medical. Nobody likes a checkup and being a volunteer doesn’t change that.
My medical was fine. They took plenty of samples from me and so far I’ve not been told I’m dying. Now to the dental. Every batch hears horror stories from the batch before about how the Philippines ruined people’s teeth. Cavities all over the place. I came into this thing with soft porous teeth and already have cavities all over the place, so I was nervous. Well, for one of the first times ever I got a no cavity report. Well a no new cavity report. One of my fillings is being funny, but that is fixable. I just have to wait to get dental work done on my evil tooth.
There has been lots of work done on this thing and it is still nasty. There is an infection up in there. So I’m either going to have to get another root canal, which involves taking off my crown and risking the tooth cracking and having to get pulled. Or I could get another surgery on it, which involves the same risks. Or I can just get rid of the thing.* I had a long talk with the dentist, in one of the fanciest dental chairs I’ve ever been in in all of my life (granted, I’m from Wyoming where technology is slow), who went to school at the University of the Philippines, then went to more school to become an endodentist at the University of Pennsylvania, and then went on to teach at NYU and we filed a report to go the root canal work. Now I’m just waiting to hear back from Washington D.C. Goodness me.
After all this happening we went to the actual MST conference. We were heading out of the city right when Hillary was there doing all her important things. I did sleep just around the corner from her. The conference was good. The first time I’ve seen some people since last August. We’ve all come a long way, and we’ve all got a long way to go. Here’s to another great year!

*Since writing this at lunch I’ve learned the DC decided it would just be best to pull it and give me a bridge. They better let me keep the crown; it is probably worth a pretty penny or two.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

a bit macabre

Here in the PI All Saints and All Souls days are a  big deal. Think Memorial Day, but the back yard barbecue is at the cemetery. Here are a bunch of pictures of my local cemetery. 

getting our learn on

Last week I went and did a PDO (professional development opportunity at a site in Bicol. Here are just some pictures I took. We focused on UBD (Understanding by Design, a new curriculum here), multiple intelligences and VARK (visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetics), and some clasroom psychology sessions.
Group projects, making a map of their ideal classroom.

Showing the group ways to motivate the class.

The Elementary teachers at my training.

The high school teachers' ideal classroom. Most rooms have none of these pretty basic things.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

the time the president came to town

October 22, 2011
Remember a few months back how the Vice President came to town? I still have no idea why. Well now, without having to go to far I’ve seen the President also. Here’s the story.
Last week my kids who had their dance they won at the Pintados in Tacloban in June were told they were dancing during Leyte Landing for the President. The kids were so excited, and I was so skeptical. We were told last year the President was coming and he didn’t. I guess the year before they were told he was coming, but he didn’t. So I was not holding my breath (same response when I heard the Vice President was coming), and kept my interest on the typhoon coming in that never happened.
On Tuesday I got a text from my Regional Manager saying the Leyte volunteers were invited to the same dinner we were invited to last year, but we needed to RSVP because this time the US Ambassador (his Excellency) was coming. C, who was told to arrange the invite, thought that the Ambassador would not be to the dinner. The dinner was good. The show was good; there was fireworks a theatre show and a dancing performance. The Ambassador did in fact come, along with all of his entourage but didn’t see us.

Next morning we woke up early to do the Peace Walk again but this year we only had three of us (last year was close to 20). We’d been told that the Ambassador had wanted to see us, so we tried to arrange this but they weren’t going to let us on the other side of the blockades, but they were nice enough to let us sit in the back of the veterans group. While sitting a lady came and let us sit with her group in some better seats. They were announcing arrivals of people, and then there was a chopper overhead and they announced the President. He really came.
left to right starting at podium: Canadian Rep, US Ambassador, Governor of Leyte, President Aquino, Mayor of Palo, Australian Rep, Veteran Rep from US, Priest giving a prayer (yes I took the photo op of a prayer, judge not)
He spoke. Our Ambassador spoke, the Japanese Ambassador spoke, some reps from Australia and Canada spoke, and the Mayor of Palo, her son the Governor of Leyte and the President spoke. They then had a parade that my kids were in. Then they got to dance. The actually danced for the President. That thought makes me so happy for them, I would have been so sad for them had he not come. Then they quickly moved the President out of there. What a morning.
In the afternoon C and I spent a nice day at a Tapos eating, drinking, talking and laughing. Leyte Landing the second time was just as good as the first.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I've been asked by a friend to come up with a Christmas list, but I really can't think of anything I need and always feel awkward asking for things. So here is stuff I've gotten in packages that have made all the difference.
Art supplies like markers and colored pencils
Crosswords and sudokus
Books that you loved reading
Granola bars
Fruit snacks
Anything trader joes
Dried cranberries and things like that
Kleenex, baby wipes, sanitizers
Haribu gummy bears
Swedish fish
Red vines
Fancy green teas and other teas
Hot chocolate
Mike&Ikes, Hot Tamales, etc.

I know it is super early, but I'm already listening to Christmas music (some on my own accord). Also, Santa is very slow to get to these parts. Which is fine, I loved getting gifts clear into valentines day. But sooner shipments are better than later shipments. Packages normally take 2 weeks, but December mail takes 4-8. I'm not sure the cut off.

Friday, October 07, 2011

world teacher day

October 6, 2011
Yesterday was one of my favorite days here so far. I think that the US needs to get in on World Teacher Day. It is fun that all the volunteers had different types of things at their schools from going to the beach, to a teacher sports fest turned into a trip to the bar, to post-typhoon clean ups.
Here is what the student teachers did for us, I’ll do separate posts just for the pictures because I for once took a bunch.
The opening ceremony was the most feel good part. They called us all up on stage based on grade level and then had the students bring up gifts. I got cards, flowers, paper medals, and another mug (mug count is now up to 8). They then called us up on stage and a student sang some song about a hero. Then we went to the canteen for breakfast of sliced bread, boiled eggs, and pink hot dogs.
After we went and prepared for a talent show. Grade 5 was going to dance. Little known fact, I was in show choir and did ok, but not great. This was so different. We had about 2 hours to learn the dance and 5th graders are not the best choreographers, especially when they don’t stop the music, don’t allow for mastery before adding new moves, and you’ve got other teachers adding their own moves. It was fun nonetheless and the group of pupils watching seemed to think I was doing ok.
We worked up quite an appetite. For lunch we had chicken, pork, fish, rice, rice, rice, and not a vegetable in sight. The big hit was fruit salad, but not the kind with cheese, corn, and elbow macaroni. This had Filipino fruit cocktail, Tang, and ice. It was scooped into glasses and a drink salad. Very good.
After eating it was time for the contest. Most grades just danced. Some sang and danced. One sang only. One had a poem and a dance. It was fun to see what people prepared with such short notice.
The student teachers also had parlor games for us. This is also when they brought out the tuba. I love parlor games in the Philippines because you get to see adults do things they would never do at home with such great enthusiasm. I also learned that most relays and races are very difficult when you are sometimes a foot taller than your team mates. We didn’t do much winning, but it wasn’t always my fault.
To end the day they gave away prizes and then I walked home exhausted after a good but very long day.

this ain't your granny's parlor

The parlor game portion of World Teacher Day:
Paper Dance: each team has 3 members that have to get on piece of paper when music stops. Each time the paper is folded in half. 
egg toss

Kalamansi Relay, which is just like an egg race.

Motion Picture

Pinoy Henoy. Kind of like 20 questions.

back it up like a tonka truck

The talent show portion of World Teacher Day:
Our dancers showing us the moves.

This is my group. We danced to song.

My choreographers!