Monday, November 16, 2009

Lesson Plans, Leftovers, Laying on the Beach

It is has been too long since my last post and for good reason. Culture shock lasted a long, long time, but I am happy to report it is officially over. I actually have a full life here now, and that is why I am spending less and less time online and more and more time in school with my students and outside of class with friends that I have made around the city. Since life has become pleasantly boring, this blog might not be a bit dull, but continue on fearless readers!

School has been going really well. Today we watched Mad Hot Ballroom, a 2005 documentary about 5th grade public school kids in New York City competing in (obviously) ballroom dancing competitions. My kids loved it because a) they could watch a movie during a school day (shocker!) b) there are a lot of silly-looking ten-year old kids trying to learn how to dance in it and c) many of the kids in the movie aren't tall and white and blonde. They are Latino and Chinese and Indian and many other things, and I don't think my students always understand this racial diversity in America. Most of my lessons for the 10th graders are based on historical or cultural lessons about the world and America, and not just English grammar (particularly because I canNOT explain grammar to them. I do not understand English grammar rules and never want to). So far we have listened to "I Have a Dream," written and delivered speeches about poverty, education, global warming, and gender equality, and written our own poetry after reading a couple Robert Frost poems. If anyone has any inspiring lessons plan ideas for them, let me know. They're like sponges, and they love anything about America. I downloaded a bunch of Thanksgiving podcasts on iTunes for our lessons next week, but am looking for more ideas after that.

Outside of school, I have settled in much more to my house here, trying to expand as much of my two-suitcases worth of stuff into my 5 bedrooms, living room, sitting room, garage, dining room, kitchen, etc. I cooked my first real meal in my kitchen after seven weeks here. Carrie and I invited some Indonesian people over and made homemade spaghetti sauce and tried to get our hands on some wine (alas, to no avail) and even made garlic bread on a burner with sliced white bread from the convenience store down the street. Out of eight Indonesian people, only one person actually ate the pasta (Western food issues? Maybe we're just bad cooks) and so we piled up all the leftover pasta into a big pan and stuck it in my fridge and have been eating out of it ever since, and my Indonesian friends keep getting grossed out about it because they cook food fresh everyday, haha. Anyway, having leftovers in my fridge is kind of comforting.

Last weekend I went to this beach south of Malang called Balekambang with some of Indonesian friends which meant two hours there and two hours back on motorbikes. Besides the relief of getting there after that long on the back-half of a motorbike, we were also pretty amazed by the beach itself. Miles of coastline, sparkling blue water, a small footbridge leading to a small Hindu temple on a little island. We swam around for a bit, ate some Nasi Pecel (rice with vegetables, and peanut sauce) and ran into about six of my eleventh grade students who also came to the beach that day. East Java is too small, but it's really nice to run into people that you know around here. Plus, even though I had just seen my students the day before they freaked out and started running towards me shouting. Would that ever happen with 17-year-olds in America? I think not.

Anyway, I should run. It's the start of the rainy season and it's raining a lot outside and I know it's just going to get harder. Yeah!

Oh, and Kait - the 10th graders are JUST like the juniors. Sophomores are the new juniors....