Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some pictures from the last day of school.

Dustin dressed up as Santa Claus for Morning Kindergarten, and the kids were amazed, mystified, and confused by this strange old man in a red suit. They loved him.
Rex and Cooper (below) had no idea who Santa was, and both were very confused/scared of him. It must've been his long white beard. ^_^

I did the Kitchen rotation for the Christmas activities for Morning Kindergarten. It was a lot of fun. Jessica had made over 100 ginger bread cookies the night before and we decorated them. The kids loved it. They especially loved eating the different body parts, laughing gleefully when they ate the gingerbread man's head, legs, or arms. Kids are vicious. Below is Cooper, saying his favorite phrase, "oh no!" as he ate the gingerbread man's nose.Kbr and their gingerbread men.
Below is Sharlene "reading" to Cooper and Cindy from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.Megan and me after our performance with Afternoon Kindergarten.Megan and her student on the last day of classes.Lindsey and Jasper, the child she believes is half vampire.Sharon. In real life, she's a tank. But she's absolutely beautiful.
Julia and Nathalie. They both are adorable. Julia is Santa, and Nathalie is Rudolph. ^_^
Jerry is a very photogenic child. ^_^
Jemmy, playing "the Grinch!"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas part 1

We survived the Christmas Program! I'll have to post details and pictures later (I'm heading for Singapore in a few hours), but I really wanted to show a little bit of the program. The first video is of Afternoon kindergarten. Yes, that's me in the frumpy Ms. Claus suit...just ignore me. The kids are too darn cute. Watch the little girl on the far left...she'll do the splits at the end of the second song. lol. Megan (the one in a santa hat and green shirt) and I didn't notice until we watched the video for it. They did a great job, they were so cute!

Okay, this next video is amazing. This is Miss Lindsey's class. She's a dancer, and she worked miracles with these kids and their dance routine. They did an amazing job.

Sorry this post is so short! More to come!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Here Comes Santa Claus

Ah, the last week of school.

I feel like a kid again, counting down the days until the holiday break. Only three more days until the last day of school. Only two more days until we do our Christmas Program. (An adorable picture of Dream below, she looks like an angel, but is quite sassy in real life) For me, it'll be the last three days I have to teach Morning Kindergarten five days a week. Yay! But I am going to be head teaching Morning and Afternoon Kindergarten next semester, so I'll probably be up in the morning anyways planning (at least that's what I tell myself ^_^).
I just realized the Dinosaur group -- pictured above -- is going to be leaving Morning Kindergarten and most of them are graduating into KbR (Kindergarten Basic Reading) next semester. I'm really going to miss them. (Left to Right: Owen, Aden, Louie (jumping in the background), Weslia, (front row) Jenny, Brandon, Corey). *sigh. They are all very smart, and most of them have been in the program for almost two years. They grow up way too fast.This is John, as Rudolph today. He is the newest student we have, but is hilarious. He's very sharp, even though he giggles a lot and speaks mostly in Chinese.

This is Jemmy being very goofy as he "ho-ho's". Dream also got into the act and started doing some martial arts as Santa...all WAAAY too cute. Stanley and Felena look on. I love this group. They are the Dolphins group, and for a while, each one wanted a new name. Jemmy wanted to be called "Dinosaur!" and Dream wanted to be "Dora," Felena wanted to be "Boots" and Stanley wanted to be "Diego," Cast of "Dora the Explorer" anyone? ^o^ Well, of course, except for Jemmy, who is, in all awesomeness, just Jemmy.
This is Stanley, I believe he's in the middle of a "ho-ho" in this picture. He was very intent on being a good Santa...and so when we made a make-believe "sleigh," he wanted to make sure all the Santas KNEW they had to say "hi-yah" to make the reindeer go.This is the Cars group in their "sleigh." Cooper is in the front, Cindy and Sharon in the second row, and Jerry and Sharlene as Santas. I had to give all the reindeers red noses, otherwise they'd throw a fit. So now I'm pretty sure they think all reindeers have red noses.This is Jennica in the Santa hat. How big the hat is on her just goes to show how little these kids are, even as they're already learning their second language.And of course, itty-bitty Jemmy in the Santa hat. He is an adorable kid. Always puts on a good show. ^_^

This is the Cars group singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Okay, Okay, it's actually mostly me singing, but that's just because they're our youngest group (just try to ignore my voice). They're trying to sing, but I think they were distracted by smiling for the camera... ;) ...just because they know they're adorable...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lukang, Birthdays, & Jingle Bells

This past Saturday, we traveled to Lukang for a very quick visit. We went into a lantern shop and we were able to meet the National Treasure of Taiwan, who has painted lanterns for the President (current) and also for us ^_^. He was very nice and very cute.

Outside the shop there were tons of lanterns hanging, displaying the artwork of the master. Lish, Erin and I got lanterns of landscapes and flowers, and we also ordered elongated circle lanterns with goldfish on them. I'm very excited to see how they'll turn out (they're sending them to us).

Lukang was a fishing town in Taiwan, and has been relatively left untouched by more of the modern advances because of it's hard-to-get-to location, so there were many of the older shops that are still there.

Being the fishing town, and having the availability of seafood, we again ate the barbecued squid on sticks, and we even tried the famous oyster pancakes that everyone from Taiwan said we had to try. They were interesting...lol. We thought they'd be more "pancake-y" than they were. But they were very good. They were very rice-noodle-y-pancake-y.

On Thursday, it was Dustin's b-day, so we celebrated by going out to eat at a very cheap sushi restaurant. It was only about $1 USD a plate (that you pulled off a conveyor belt), and was delicious! I tried to eat as much as I could...I felt like a weak version of Kobayashi, only faring poorly at 6 plates. :(

Their sashimi was excellent though, it's been a long time since I had good raw fish. ^_^

I wasn't supposed to take a picture inside the restaurant...but I snuck one in anyways. Ooops. It was just a fabulous place, I couldn't help myself. ^_^ Anyways, this will definitely make one of my favorite places to eat here in Taiwan. It's amazing how well you can eat on a very tight budget.

Oh, my dad reminded me of another thing in an email he sent me; the standard of living in Taiwan for teachers is much better than for others in different professions here. As teachers, we get paid a little more than the average Taiwanese, which is pretty hard to grasp. I feel much less educated than the average Taiwanese, yet I get paid more, just because I was born in an English speaking country. Besides the fact that in the states, teachers get paid very poorly, but here in this country, because education is valued so much, they pay them pretty well. It reminded me of how my grandma used to tell me how lucky I was to go to school every time I complained about having to go everyday. I'm definitely seeing my privileged upbringing living in the states.

I'm considering graduate school in London...but I'm sure quite yet. My undergraduate GPA is a barely respectable 3.5, and I wish I had done better so I could get into any graduate program I want. But I'm very excited about the prospects. I started a language exchange with a Chinese speaker here, but realizing my lack of speaking abilities, I'm considering taking an adult course at the university, just to get caught up in the language. Tai Chi has become a little more difficult because I am going to the more advanced classes now, so it's all in Chinese...I need to learn the language.

We are preparing for the Christmas Program. In my Afternoon Kindergarten, we are doing two song and dance numbers...trying to control fifteen 6-7 year-olds is a lot of fun...and a lot of chaos...we haven't been able to do the entire number yet without stopping. I hope by this Friday (the performance day) we'll get it done!!!

I've been teaching Morning Kindergarten Christmas songs too. Luckily, we don't have to do a performace with them, so I taught them to just find a partner and dance, dance around! ^o^

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving in Taiwan

I know this blog is really, really late, but I thought I should put it up before we began another holiday. Christmas is going to be insane later this week, the Christmas program will be uploaded in all it's chaotic glory. ^_^

We had Thanksgiving here in Taiwan, we had an actual turkey (which was hard to get), and we had to travel by train to get where we wanted. The girls from the other school came, and there were many church members there.

(In this picture: Shannon, Megan, Erin--carrying our Thanksgiving Day feast)The food! Salads, yams, homemade cranberry sauce (thanks to Sister Dowse, half of the couple missionaries here), mashed potatoes, wontons....lol.The crowded kitchen before the feast.Erin and Courtney playing on the piano before the dinner.Beautiful drinks that Megan made, they were really good. We also had some rockin' egg nog. ^_^Courtney and Britta, two really cool girls from the Maryland school. They kept me company while I ate.

I apologize for getting this on here so late, and I'm sorry for all the typos that I'm sure made their way into this blog. ^_^ All in all, it was fun celebrating Thanksgiving here in Taiwan.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Science Fair

My poor fifth graders. I haven't done a post on them yet. Maybe it's because they're older and shun photo-taking opportunities, or maybe it's because they look like this in my class (see below)
...and are generally sick of school, disinterested in life, and just not as cute as kindergartners, but since I still find them adorable (just look at those faces, awww ^o^), I thought I'd spotlight them on their science fair project. ^_^ I thought they did a brilliant job. They're all very smart and can speak English so well, I sometimes feel like I don't need to teach them anything.

As 12 and 13 year olds, the kids in my class like destruction and/or utter chaos. Or the torturing of their fellow students. So for their project, they did blind taste tests. Their hypothesis was that girls would be able to guess more correct foods than boys after being blindfolded.
They chose a wide variety of foods that included m&ms and wasabi (because they thought it was funny). I thought their presentation went very well. Each of my student had a speaking part that they memorized, and did a pretty darn good job on their board. We didn't have enough time to make it perfect, but they got darn close. Their hypothesis was supported after torturing, I mean testing, 30 of their students. Oh, and as a side note, yes, all my 5th graders are taller than me, except for two. :P (from left to right: Angel, Chuck, Claire, Nick, James, Jammy, Yvonne10, Shawn, Ivy, Yvonne9, Vivi)
In all honesty, my 5th grade class is my lifesaver. I'd go insane with my kindergartners if I didn't have the older ones to keep my sanity. They all have a pretty good sense of humor and actually laugh at my jokes. The young ones just stare at me strangely when I try to tell them jokes. I love my older kids. ^_^

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Ah, Tokyo.

I've finally made it back to the motherland. Only, I had forgotten I don't speak Japanese. Just like I don't speak Chinese. *sigh. I'm just an American. I really need to fix my poor language abilities. Anyways, Tokyo was amazing. We took the trains around for transportation and got lost so many times trying to find places. It's a very complicated system. ^_^
We visited Tokyo Tower, which had an amazing view of the city. If we had visited it in the daytime, we would've been able to see Mt. Fuji. It's a little taller than the Eiffel Tower.
We found a small little restaurant where they didn't speak much English, but had amazing tempura. I was so happy I was traveling with Lish, who values food as much as I do.
We stayed in a hostel in Asakusa, and the little shops that surrounded it were so cute. While in Japan, I was reminded that trees actually change colors in the fall, in Taiwan, although it has dropped to the low 60 degrees here, the trees don't change color.I love how in Japan there's a mixture of the ultra new technology, and old customs in every day life. There were so many beautiful women in kimonos just going about their daily business, or that's what it looked to me. Maybe they were dressed up for a special event, but it's things like that you never see out on the streets in the states. It's a good feeling.This is me on the 52nd floor at the New York Grill restaurant, it was expensive, but worth it. I definitely want to go back to Japan when I have more money. ^_^ And maybe when I speak more Japanese.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Politics & Moustaches

I went into the dermatologist today, and after initially starting to speak to me in Chinese, I uttered, “wo shr meiguoren,” (I’m an American) to the doctor and told him I couldn’t speak any Chinese. Immediately, he said, “Congratulations!” with a huge grin and clasped his hands. I wasn’t quite sure what he was getting at, but then he followed with, “You have a new president!”

On Obama’s mother’s side, his ancestors were from Ireland. The town in Ireland, Moneygall, considers Obama (there, his last name might be O'bama..), “their favorite son.” On his father’s side, Kenya considers Obama to be their favorite son. If you ask people in Hawaii, their response? Hey, he’s our favorite son too. ^_^ There’s a town in Japan named Obama and they’ve been doing a lot pro Obama-ness too.

Even here in Taiwan, it seems they’ve taken a liking to him. In all honestly, hope shouldn't be a new thing, but what he has giving to people around the world is a change of attitude from the feeling of despair about current events to inspiring hope in people for a better future.

After congratulating me on the new president (which I felt guilty about since I d
idn't vote, not even by absentee ballot...I am ashamed...), he asked where I was from, or where my parents were from. Then he made the comment that now even I could be president! Did people really view America as being a rich, old, white man's club until now? Maybe they did, and now, with the new president elect, that view is changing. Maybe, someday, an Asian woman might be president...lol. Naw, that'd be too crazy. ^_^

Still, I hope the presidency doesn't ruin a good man. Or a good country. I'm
proud of my country, and I would have supported whole-heartedly anyone who was elected by our people. The presidency is a job I wouldn't wish on my worse enemy. There's so much responsibility and worry that goes along with it, I admire any person who is willing do sacrifice so much for their country.

In other news, I have discovered teaching Kindergarten has given me a chance to relive my youth. In a good way though; as a child, I never liked being a child. But here, I now can be a child and feel no shame. I no longer fear making a fool of myself just so I can see a kid smile. I'll dance funny to songs they know, I'll act like a monkey and pretend to eat lice out of their hair, and I'll even wear fake, pipe-cleaner moustaches all day while employing a high pitched accented voice. (*see all the pictures below...)
It's a strange thing; but I've discovered when I have a pipe-cleaner mustache, I cannot help but take on a fake accent in a high pitched voice. It's very weird. And I've also discovered I cannot dance like a normal person anymore. I dance like a kindergarten teacher. Oh well.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Taiwan Scene of Halloween!

Halloween was a blast. It was insane, chaotic, and yet in spite of all the mishaps, it went quite well. I have developed a huge sense of respect for elementary teachers who have to suffer through this process year after year and keep it fun. It''s such a funny paradox between the stress, the reward of happy children having fun, and relief that you actually made it out alive. I am eternally grateful for that extra adrenaline rush in chaotic situations that got me through Friday.
And I loved every minute of it.

Sharon and I both dressed up as Ladybugs. She was adorable. For Morning Kindergarten, we also had the kBr classes (kindergarten basic reading) participate in the activities, and it was actually kind of fun to see the differences in language abilities just in a few years in the program. I'm excited to stay another six months to see how much these children improve throughout the year that I'm here.

Since I'm currently in Art, we decided to make Spiders and Spider Webs. Having to create over 40 of them in three hours with the kids was fun. Sharlene was possibly the cutest pumpkin ever, even if she was a little perplex as to why she was dressed up in a puffy orange suit...

Rotating the groups were Lindsey, Jessica, and the horde of secretaries. Honestly, that was the hardest job, the organization. I just stayed in my room, and had the kids do the project. Amazingly, I only got one group at the wrong time once during the morning. Out of five groups, that ain't bad.

The kids did Trick-or-Treating around the small complex near the school. The owner of the school (Frances) and her immediate and extended family live in that block. The secretaries at the old school and Gerald (married to Francis) handed out most of the candy and the doors. Jemmy is the really tiny spider man, and the other orange pumpkin is Felena.

In the afternoon, Dustin and I hosted the water balloon toss that ended up being improvised quite a bit for the younger Afternoon Kindergarten. We had six rotations, with ages varying from 6 to 10 year olds (the middle aged groups). We were lucky that it was a very hot day yesterday, but we were unlucky that construction in the back of the school limited our space for the kids to play in. It all worked out well though. ^_^

For the upper Elementary classes (5th to 6th grades), I did a Glow-in-the-Dark Balloon stomp, which they -- much to my relief -- loved.

After all the teachers finished their classes, most of us went to KTV, which is a popular karaoke place here in Taiwan. For about $10 US dollars, you get a huge selection of songs in English, free food, your own private room for three hours, and Taiwanese people who wanted to take pictures with the Americans (I had to use my phrase "wo shr meiguoren" quite a bit last night, because no one seemed to believe I was American...)

All in all, a very good day.

Here are some pictures taken throughout the day...