Thursday, December 2, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
This is a close up of Life International School. My door is just left of center on the bottom level. Nursery, preschool, and Kindergarten are housed on the lower level, and Grades 1 through 4 are on the upper level.
Here are the "before" pictures of my Kindergarten classroom. I have to be honest, a few tears were shed at the prospect of having to completely redo and set up a classroom, especially since I spent the last 3 years at Center Point perfecting my classroom. Also, I made the mistake of looking in a lot of the other rooms of the school before looking in mine, and mine definitely needed the biggest face lift. The biggest obstacle was the large white circular desks, which we call offices. They were designed for the students to take tests in, but my room seemed to have become the dumping ground for all of the left over ones. It seemed like there were hundreds of them in there. I didn't foresee using them, but there was no way to get them out. I had to get super creative, as you will see in the after photos.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
One thing that is kind of a problem in Cambodia, especially in the places where there are more tourists, is children that persistently beg for money and food. When I was in Siem Reap (the town where are the ancient temples are located), children there knew exactly when and where to be to bombard tourists and foreigners. They also knew exactly who to ask and what to say and how to manipulate people into giving them money. Begging is a lifestyle and a job for them, and many have perfected their art.
Everything I had previously read before coming to Cambodia talked about exactly what I observed almost instantly. They also consistently said that it was not a good idea for foreigners to give these children anything, because it just perpetuates the culture of begging. When I was in Siem Reap, I immediately took on the role of a tourist and avoided giving these children money or buying things. Not only that, but my heart was super hardened, and I wasn’t even kind to victims of landmines who also beg for money. It’s so easy to do in the US: when you see a homeless person on the street, you just walk on by. When you see the war vets that sit on the interstate and highway exits asking for work or a ride, you very tactfully look the other direction. At least, I know I do. And apparently I brought that terrible attitude with me to Cambodia.
But then I realized something. I’m not a tourist in this country. I didn’t get on a huge airplane to come here and ignore the people who need the most help. The next two years are not about me having all that I want and need, but are more about me sacrificing all that I have to help the people of Cambodia, and more importantly, sharing, AND SHOWING, the love and light of Christ.
When I really, really think about it, the task becomes daunting. There are millions of people in this country, and the majority of them are extremely poor. How, in two short years can I help them all? As much as I would love to pack every single street child I see in my suitcase and bring them home with me to take care of them, I know that’s not realistic. As much as I would love to just throw all my money out in the streets like candy in a parade, again, not very realistic. As much as I would love to buy 5 or 6 little bracelets every time I go to the beach, is that really the best thing to do? Ultimately, I want to be able to help these children, but not just by giving them money every time I see them, but by giving them a friend, praying for them, and hopefully being able to tell them all about the awesome gift of our Savior. THAT really is the best thing I can give.
I’m writing this not because I have found the solution to this problem that I want to share with everyone, but because I really am having a hard time getting my head and my heart to communicate on this issue. Thankfully, it is only day 7 here. I have like 728 days to work it out. If anyone has any practical suggestions or ideas to help these kids, please share!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
For the past couple of weeks we have been preparing for our Kindergarten "Spring Musicale" (thanks High School Musical) and it has some developed some interesting characteristics in some of the five year olds I see every day.
First of all, they think they are just fabulous (which, of course, they are). I mean, your first time standing on stage in front of hundreds of people, singing at the top of your lungs, trying your best to get those adorable choreographed moves? Point to the audience, hands on your hips, snap in the air, bouncing back and forth. That is all a big deal.
In preparation for the big night, we have been practicing in the classroom. While the majority of them took it as an opportunity to be ridiculous, some of them took it very seriously. I wish I had this on videotape, but even if I did, I couldn't put it on here for ethical and legal reasons, although You Tube might pick it up. But one little boy is so devoted to the quality of the musical performances of Center Point Elementary, that he has decided to add his own improvisations to the end of each song. Think Whitney, think Mariah, think Beyonce, and even a little Jennifer Hudson. All from a little five year old boy voice. He even has the hand motions down and everything. And the best part is, he is channeling his inner-diva at the end of songs such as "My Backpack," "I Like School," and "The Months of the Year." I told him I would get him his own dressing room and bedazzled microphone.
When the performance night actually got here, they all arrived in their very best outfits. We the teachers quickly learned that little man vest outfits (pretty much the components of a tux minus the jackets) are all the rage. And they come in all different colors! Silver, gold, purple, you name it! I haven't seen that much synthetic material disguised as formal wear since I was in a department store in South Korea. But they were adorable. As we started to line up, the stage fright definitely set in. While walking my class into the gymnasium, one of my little boys took one look at the crowd, grabbed my head and said "Ms. Teegarden…." in the most worrisome and apprehensive voice I have ever heard him use, as he nervously eyed all the mamas and grand-mamas that he was about to perform for. I was more amused than anything, and of course just put him up on the stage with the rest of them. He eventually warmed up to the crowd.
And then, once all the kids were in place, ready to sing, the real fun started. For a good five minutes straight, all the mamas and aunties and daddies and uncles came up and literally stood right in front of where their child was standing, and just took pictures. It was like our own little version of the paparazzi or the red carpet. And even when the music was cued, and our precious music teacher began directing above the heads of the photographers, they didn't budge. Forget concert decorum. They were getting that close up picture of their baby. And the kids ate up every minute of it. They had their game faces on. They knew they were stars. And as entertaining as it was, it makes me wonder about this generation we are raising. Maybe a generation of divas.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
This actually did not happen to a student of mine, but it was so entertaining I felt like I had to share it with the larger Internet community. Or the six people that actually read this, half of which are my immediate family members.
A little bit of information before the story starts: the school that I work at is a Title 1 school, which means we, the teachers, are privileged (or required, depending on who you talk to) to do many, many hours of professional development. This often requires us to leave our precious little angels with substitute teachers anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. You can imagine the kind of shenanigans that occur, especially when us leaving for said meetings has lately become like a bi-weekly occurrence. . .
Side note to this story: The principal came in my room to observe me teaching the other day, and some of the kids automatically assumed that she was there to teach/watch them while I left (they told me this afterwards, thank goodness). I actually think they were a little disappointed that they had to put up with my teaching for the rest of the day.
So, imagine a room full of 5/6 year olds with someone who is not their regular teacher. What would you do? Of course, you would try to get away with everything you KNOW you would not be able to get with if your beloved, regular teacher was present:
Dance in line and in the hallway instead of walking? That's a given.
Steal glue sticks and pencils and anything else you can find that is somewhat inconspicuous and take them home? Why not? Maybe you can sell them to your siblings and friends.
Tell the sub that you ride the bus when you actually are supposed to stay in the after school program? And then end up wandering around your apartment complex by yourself? That's a really good one.
See if you can climb through the hole between the back and the bottom of your chair? Absolutely.
And that is exactly what happened.
To a kindergartener, that small foot of space is apparently THE place to be. If you were of a certain size, wouldn't you want to see if you could fit in such an appealing hole? Wouldn't you want to see if you could actually wear your chair like you wear your clothes? Wouldn't you want your teacher to come back and be absolutely amazed at the feat you just accomplished? Wouldn't you want for all of the custodians and the computer teacher to come in and see if they could figure out a way to get the chair off of you? Because, bonus, it's a really old chair that simply won't come unscrewed.
Maybe other teachers and maybe even the principals would come by to see what you have done! Maybe someone will take a picture of you! Hopefully, if you're lucky, a first grader will stand outside the door and tell everyone who passes by your story—that you have defied the odds. And then, if you are really lucky, perhaps all of the adults in the room will finally come to the conclusion that they are going to have to cut the chair off you, much like victims of car accidents are pried from their vehicles with the Jaws of Life. How cool is that?!? If I were 5 years old, and had my whole life and career in front of me, getting stuck in my chair at school would be a pinnacle experience that I just would not want to miss out on.
One of my favorite sayings is "It's funny because it's true." And all these things are funny, because all these things are 100% true. I love my job.