Monday, August 1, 2011

Classes to Teach, Fasting to Accomplish, Computers to Fool

Ah, what a glorious August this is! I began today at 4 am to a breakfast of rice and beef. Admittedly, I was a little confused. But all was forgotten when I remembered today was the first of Ramadan! This is the fasting month for Muslims, who see is as the kind of purification ritual that is present in various ways through every major religion. Abrahamic religions do it out of a want to cleanse themselves and take away the power Earthly goods have over them in order to transcend their daily lives, as well as to understand the empathy they must feel to donate to charities to end world hunger. Pagan rituals dictate that the self-control necessary to fast is a feat meaning the man, woman or child is a good human. There are variances on these themes, but they all come back to the same ideas, the same practice at heart. Still, I thirst in this tropical climate. So I brought only one water bottle to school today instead of two. And I haven't eaten yet. Wish me luck!

So much happened today, it was hard to keep up. Had some hardcore napping time in the classroom for the first time. I deemed it culturally acceptable because there were 5 other kids in a 20-kid classroom with their heads on the desks and drool on their sleeves. I kid about the drool. I took a short snooze in the morning assembly (which is announced exclusively in Malay) and then again after Islam and after I'd copied another hundred terms into my little book of words I need to know. I went through English class and another form of Islam (again spending the time copying and napping because Islam is in Malay) after that. After school, I went to the Guidance office where I met the nice teacher who's helping me organize the French lessons I'll be teaching the "Peer Group", the kids who help the teachers out and get to wear a snazzy purple uniform. I hope my french is good enough to teach them what I learned in 6 months over the course of about 11. After all, they are going from Malay to English to French for every thing. I've got a lesson plan written out for 8 different blocks of classes, which should work out to around 16-20 meetings.
I'm also teaching English to some kids at my school starting next Tuesday. I've got to make up a plan for that, too. Since i'll be teaching conversational English, I'm going to start out with some icebreakers and some getting-to-know-yous, then moving into some motivational-type activities to get these kids out of their shy little bubbles. Even the teachers agree, the kids in forms 1 and 2 know how to write English and know how to speak it, they just don't because they're shy. The kids are mortified of messing up. I could attribute this to a larger, more socio-religious thing, but I'll save that rant for later. For now, we've got a bunch of 11-13 year-olds with some seriously small self-confidences. After this year is over, we'll rejoin next year and start doing the really fun stuff. We'll move past role playing and into improv and maybe some skits. This, I hope, will give them a feel for the American English I know and love.

Something I've been missing recently is the Comedy Central News team. I'm watching BBC and CNN here more than I do in the states, but it's just not the same. Up till now, I didn't try to get past the country restriction that's on sites like Netflix and Fox, but I managed to get to Comedy Central and I love it. So glad that I'm not missing out on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I've also been up on the This American Life Podcast. All of these things have brought me back into my zone where I am content to be a citizen of the world. By the way, if America doesn't settle our debt by the time  get back, I'm changing my US $ to Ringgit. And that's saying something because the conversion is 1/3 right now. I know this because I recently went to KL, the capitol city and home to as many malls as they can shove down your throat. Everything is really really inexpensive, by the way. I bought jeans, a hat, and some soap :)

The public transportation here is really efficient for the most part. Interestingly enough, they're segregating the sexes on some cars on the train, and the All-Girls car is just as crowded. Seriously, people should really learn some common human decency and stop shoving! Some of this is necessary to fit into the car, but some of it is just rude and potentially dangerous. People don't let people off the car before trying to cram more people in at stops. Which is, plain and simple, stupid. How are you going to fit into that spot unless someone leaves? Psssh, the nerve. Ah, well.

That's all for now, I'll try to get the pictures up soon :)
~Peggy

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