Haven’t posted in so long and so much has happened! AH!
Short story numero uno:
So if my students actually only learn one thing from me this year I want them to learn about diversity, in America and in general.
Last week I did a short power point presentation in each of my classes introducing the Holidays in America. Everyone here knows about Christmas but Taiwanese kids do not seem to know about other holidays celebrated in America. So I was able to briefly introduce my kids to Eid, Hannakuh, and Kwanzaa. I decided to include photos of my friends who I knew celebrated the respective holidays on each slide to show that the people who celebrate, Eid for example, don’t alllll look the same.
I did this lesson in all my 3,4,5, and 6th grade classes with varying levels of success. I think most of the kids got it. All of America doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Yay!
In my very last class of the week I was teaching 5th graders. We got to the page about Eid and I explained that Muslim Americans celebrate Eid and showed them pictures of my friends who are Muslim. Indistinct Chinese chatter started. I didn’t really know what was being talked about until I heard someone say “ISIS.” I saw my co-teacher trying to moderate and answer questions and wasn’t sure what to do/say until one of my students shouted at me: “TEACHER! Your friends…..kill people?”
“A little more knowledge a little less conflict”
So I quickly got the class’s attention and had him repeat his question. I answered him having my co-teacher translate for the entire class. I tried to explain that while ISIS claims to be a Muslim organization, not all Muslims kill people.
So this was an interesting moment because it reflects what they know of the middle east- stories of ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc. If this is really all they are learning about the Middle East I don’t blame them for not knowing better. It was such a shock to me though! I was happy to correct him and I am going to try and reinforce the information this week.
Short story numero dos:
Sitting at a 90 second red light (you read that right) on the way home last week someone drove up to me and starting asking me a question about directions. I turned and she saw I was a “waiguoren” was like “oh.” I understood her question, however, and responded in Chinese and she just laughed and laughed. Then had me clarify the street and direction one more time then drove off. Pretty fun to understand and be able to give directions to a local.
Short story numero tres:
Our coordinator Iris sent us an email a couple weeks ago inviting us to give small talks to a local group of business people who want to work on their English. I indicated interest and we set up my talks for last Tuesday and Wednesday night. Iris suggested I talk about my volunteer work in South Africa so I ended up speaking on South African history, society today, HIV/AIDS, and my volunteer work. It was an interesting challenge to think of how to discuss South African history (SO COMPLICATED!) in such a short time, yet doing it some sort of justice. On both nights I felt like the information was well received. In one of the classes I asked if any of them had heard of Apartheid and they said they hadn’t. After my talk they were able to ask questions and many of questions were like: we’ve known about HIV for so long, why aren’t they doing anything? What is the government doing? Why doesn’t Taiwan do volunteering like it seems the U.S. does? Why do young people in the U.S. volunteer? …..and….What do you think about Taiwanese men?
It was honestly such an honor to engage with these folks and do the best I could to answer their questions.
Short story numero quattro:
It’s cold here. Not in a, I live in Minnesota and it’s negative 27 kind of way, but in a it’s 50 degrees but feels like 42 and there is no heat anywhere kind of way.
I work in the mountains so it’s especially chilly and last week it rained and I felt quite like a human ice cube. End of story.
Short story numero cinco(spl)?:
Saturday was the Christmas Hash (the group that I’ve been running with occasionally). It was a beautiful unseasonably warm day. I’m not going to write too much here about it but it felt so nice to be with a running group bopping around to Christmas tunes and I’m so grateful to have this bizarre group in my life!
Short story numero sinco (spl):
Last night my roommate and I went to a Christmas dinner/party with our friend Julianna. It was at Juliann’s co-workers church. Follow all that?
So it started off with unbelieveable amounts of food that we gorged ourselves on…..esp after we found BANANA BREAD!!!!!
Then there were a series of Christmas performances and trivia questions. This was a very interesting experience, having grown up in a church. Everyone was so hospitable and they even sent us away with presents!
It’s been a CRAZY last couple weeks and I only anticipate the next few being equally insane so will try and update as I go!