Thursday, June 28, 2012

And if you needed another reason...

I have a long list of blogs of friends, friends of friends, and strangers that I read for inspiration and to know what's going on with my friends and with the world.  My friend Haley was one of my inspirations for creating this blog (it's pretty obvious when you look at the title of her blog and that of mine...apparently she inspired me to create a blog but I was lacking imagination with my title and came up with something not much different than she did.  Hey, at least the blog was created!)  Anyhow, in addition to wonderful pictures and stories of her travels, she also shares stories about those small moments of beauty and happiness that we often overlook as well as articles, pictures, videos, etc. of the things that inspire her.  Today she shared a TED Talk on the importance of sanitation.  It provided one more reason to proud of myself and my students for the work we did to raise money for Spark Microgrants, as the money is helping a school to build a bath house and to develop a health and hygiene curriculum.  Here's the video to better understand why this could make such a huge impact on the school (we are finding about half of the project, p.s.!):


Just in case you were worried I wasn't having enough fun, here are some pics from one of my more recent outtings with friends. A co-worker was DJing a birthday party at a bar in Chapinero.  We went to show our support and to dance, dance, dance!!  It was SO. MUCH. FUN.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Arco Iris

With only remediation going on at the school this month, works demands have slowed d significantly.  I'm not complaining.  I've had time to do some education reading and research that I've been wanting to do.  Additionally, I've been able to read the news, update my resume, clean out my desk, plan my summer vacation down to the minute details and to reflect on the school year - my classroom culture, my teaching of the content, my systems and procedures and the areas where I think I can grow and contribute more to the school next year.  Additionally, as things have slowed down, I've had time to appreciate the little things:  Conversations with my students and co-workers/friends, delicious snacks and lunches (usually I'm in and out but there have been days when I've enjoyed the full hour in the cafeteria with my food and friends), beautiful weather and RAINBOWS!  Check out the view I had from my office after a brief rainshower the other day!  Gorgeous

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cascadas de Sueva

During one of the many long weekends we seem to have in Colombia, I went hiking with my friend Pacho and his sister.  We had to take a 2 - 3 hour bus ride to our desination (each way) but it was wonderful chance to get out of the city and enjoy this beautiful country.  Also, on our way we stopped for arepa con queso and agua de panela.  Best case.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Say what?!?!

Living a life in two languages has made for some awkward moments and some very funny ones.  My friend Sophia has experienced this as well during her new life in Berlin.  Last night I had dinner and drinks with some wonderful friends and we were sharing stories about students, parents, and ourselves trying to translate ideas from one language to another and we were in tears at the ridiculousness of it all...and perhaps at the perverted twist our minds seem to take at times.  I'm hoping that one of these friends takes up a blog soon to document this running list of lost-in-translation moments, but until then I thought I'd share just a few gems:

1.  Molestar means "to bother".  However, sometimes individuals trying to translate from Spanish to English will say things like "I'm sorry to molest you, but..." or "Kate, Juan is molesting me!!!"  Awkward.  Especially when you have to explain to a 12-year-old why this is perhaps not the best word choice.

2.  I'm really having a difficult time with the "p"-words.  There's pescado, pesado, pecado, picado(a), pedazo,... you get the idea.  Anyhow, after my trip to Santa Marta, I had quite a few bug bites.  In the van on the way to school with about 10 other teachers, I announced "tengo muchos pecados".  The group gave me a quizzical/concerned look, "what?! what do you mean?!" one person asked.  I showed them a bite. "Oh...picados (or maybe it's picadas)".  Pecados = sins, Picados(or picadas...not sure)= bug bites.  Instead of announcing to the number of bug bites I had acquired on my trip, I announced that I have many sins.  Excellent.

3.  Finally, and this is probably the most awkward but also hysterical of all, today I received this e-mail from my dad:
 "The translation button on your last Facebook message comes up as "I am blowjob".  Interesting.  ~Dad"
Say what?!!?

This was the Facebook status my dad was referring to:

"Estoy mamada" is slang for "I'm exhausted".  Mamada, however, comes from the verb mamar which means to suck.  I'd like to think that the slang is saying "I'm sucked of all my energy"... but I'm not totally sure of the origin of the expression.   Still, it seems Google translator doesn't understand Colombian slang... it also doesn't seem to understand that poor translations can make for awkward conversations with family members.  Dear Google, please work on this.  Thanks.  Also, I apologize to anyone else who translated my Facebook status and was disturbed. 

Anyone else faced moments like these in their travels, work with bilingual students, or experience living abroad?  Would love to hear about them!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fundraiser for Rwanda: A Success!

First, sorry for not being better about writing.  I've done some me fun things lately that I'm about to share.  I've also been doing a lot of reflecting on life - personal and professional - that perhaps I will find some time to share in the month of July.

And now on with the updates:

Awhile back, I shared that I'd become an advocate for Spark Microgrants.  Well, the idea of being an advocate is to share with the others the work of Spark Microgrants and to commit to raising a certain amount of money.  I loved the idea and thought, I am sure I can think of a way to incorporate fundraising into my unit on Fractions, Decimals and Percents.  Also, who better to spread the word to than an entire school!?

I set a goal of raising $500.  Students did some reading and reseraching on Rwanda, on the community we'd be supporting, on the importance of sanitary bathrooms at schools, and, of course, we had some preliminary lessons on fractions, decimals, and percents.  The students were all assigned groups and each group was assigned a specific grade level.  They were responsible for informing this grade level, collecting the donations from their assigned grade level and tracking the donations and participation for that grade level.  They then, every few days, were required to report the amount donated, the amount donated per student in the class (note that this requires averages and decimals!) and then they needed to update a pie chart that provided a visual of the percentage of participation (also quite a bit of fraction, decimal, and percentage work!).

This project was not the only thing they did to learn fractions, decimals, and percents but they were extremely dedicated to the project and the days where we "just" had lessons, they were excellent because they new that they'd need the math for the project and because they knew that if we didn't get through the lesson we'd have less time to visit classrooms and collect donations.  On Thursdays, some of the students would make announcements to the whole school.  I wish I had videos of these announcements because they were soooooo adorable and very effective.  The high school kids totally ate it up. :)

In the end, we raised about $1,350!!!  I could not believe how giving the students, teachers and families were for this small project completed by the 6th graders.  I am so glad that I was able to share my interest in international development with the students, educate them a bit on another part of the world, make a nice contribution to a community in Rwanda, AND teach my students mathematics all at the same time.  It is these moments that remind why teaching is so AWESOME!

The students made posters with notes to the students of the school in Rwanda where we are sending money
Very cute.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Warm Welcome: The last year of my twenties

Birthday dinner #1
   What a wonderful day!  I was not feeling super excited about my birthday because friends from home are not with me nor is the family and I was not expecting folks here at the school to remember or make a big deal about it.  Boy did I under estimate them!

La ruta (the van I take to school with other teachers) was decorated, as is our tradition, for my birthday and my friend Liliana bought pasteles de carne and pollo and juice for everyone to enjoy.  What a delicious way to kick off the day.  They played the Colombian national anthem for me because I'm now official I guess having had a birthday in Colombia and then the Happy Birthday song.  So fun!

When I arrived to the teachers' room at the Middle School my madrina, MarĂ­a Elena, jumped and screamed "Happy to Jou"!! and gave be the biggest hug ever, as did the other teachers that were there.  I had gifts waiting for me - earrings, slippers (see the pic), a beautiful scarf (I'm wearing in my pics), a necklace and treats and notes from my students.  Soooo kind and thoughtful and more than I ever expected.  My dear friend Natalia L. and others also had a cake waiting for me that we enjoyed after lunch and will also probably enjoy for breakfast tomorrow. :)

Afterschool my friend Pacho drove me to pick up some gifts that I had made for me students (buttons and t-shirts) and we enjoyed a beer together and caught up on so gossip and the happenings of our's been awhile.  We then met up with others for my birthday dinner of pizza and beer.  Excellent!

The birthday wishes did not stop with my friends at the school - I received texts, facebook messages, e-mails, calls, gifts at my house and photos from friends around the world (seriously: Germany, Luxembourg, Vietnam, India, South Africa, the U.S., England, and more!) wishing me the best in the year to come.  One friend even sent me a blog post that she wrote for me.  I received it while at school and proceeded to school...but it was so nice.  Check it out.

Overall, it was quite an incredible birthday.  Thank you so much to everyone for helping me to make it so special.  xoxo

Relaxing with my new slippers, after a wonderful birthday!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Search for Jubilee in this month of June

Sorry it has been so long since I wrote anything.  The truth is I've been in a funk because it is the beginning of June and usually this means June Jubilee.

In Texas, a large number of friends have their birthdays in June.  School is also over.  The combination results in constant celebrating the entire month, hence June Jubilee.  This weekend was the graduation of the third class of students I taught (so proud!) and following the graduation, my friends (as is tradition) are packing up and having a week-long vacation somewhere in Texas.  I'm not with them (in spirit yes, physically no).  I'm so glad they've kept the tradition going and will really need to find a way to be there next year for Doublewide Cinco (yes, this vacation is called Doublewide because the first place we ever rented was apparently a Doublewide - according to my friend Andria who seemed to be some sort of expert in the topic).

Without the Doublewide and without my Houston friends, I'm struggling to feel the jubilation of June.  That's normal, right?  Yes, I have friends here and yes life, for the most part, is continuously surprising me with it's awesomeness... but for the moment June feels a bit less jubilant.

Thankfully it's only June 4th.  For the rest of the month I will focus on making my own sort of Colombian June Jubilee.  A friend and I have already discussed that we should go out more and enjoy the month because while we do have to work, we don't have to teach.  I also just stepped away from a bound-to-be-toxic relationship situation with my pride and self-esteem fully intact - definitely something worth celebrating if you ask me and a sign that my 29th year of life is going to be fabulous because I'm not acting a fool (quite as much at least...a little foolishness keeps life interesting).  Still, I am on the hunt for even more jubilation in this very special month.  I am open to suggestions and hope to share some stories and pics with you as the jubilee transpires. :)

Just a few pics to commemorate the wonderful tradition of June Jubilee and Doublewide:

Hot dogs, Texas Tea, and Rachael showing as the she "got your crazy"...what more could a person ask for?
First thing after my arrival in Texas last summer for the kickoff - a beer at Cedar Creek.
Love this B!
2 years ago, June Jubilee included skydiving on my birthday.