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 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...