Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wishing I Could Hear Your Voice Again...

I've had "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," from The Phantom of the Opera stuck in my head today, and it has been very appropriate, since I've had Korea on my mind again. One line in particular seems very apt: "Wishing I could hear your voice again, knowing that I never will." Getting back to life in the USA has been a lot harder on me than anyone else knows - mostly since I haven't let on to anyone how I feel. I dream about Korea several nights each week, and I still can't look at my photos without tearing up. I fell wholeheartedly in love with a country and an entire school full of children, and I get a stabbing pain in the heart every time I remember them.

It has always been far too easy for me to love, which means that wherever I am, I'm always missing someone. In the past, this was never a huge issue, since I can still phone, email, or visit those who are dear and far away. The situation with Korea, however, is like losing several loved ones to death - sure they're still alive, but I'll never see them again. There is a permanent separation here that does not exist in my usual relationships. It was so heavenly to have so many children to love (and an entire country) for a year, but now I'm left trying to adjust to life without them. I read my replacement teacher's blog today, and it made me cry because of all I had to leave behind. How much longer before I can look at pictures and videos from my year in Korea without giving in to tears?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Grammar Mafia

I have been dedicating a great deal of my free time to preparing for the six classes I'll be teaching in the fall. To better prepare myself for the English classes, I'm taking some CEUs (Continuing Education Units) from the University of Fresno Pacific, which is very reasonably priced (only $100 per credit hour). I wish there were a bit more instruction to the course I'm taking (it's a course on young adult novels), but other than that, I'm pretty satisfied. In addition, I have come up with a marvelous idea that I thought I'd share for the benefit of other teachers.

I have been scouring garage sales looking for cheap, broken down board games (any age level). I take the board games apart, and use the pieces to create new games for use in the classroom. For instance, I found an ancient monopoly game in a dirty, broken-down box for only twenty-five cents. I cleaned the game and the box thoroughly, mended the box, and then glued paper over the game board to create my own new game. I decoupaged the box so that it now looks as good as new, and matches my game board. My new game is entitled "Grammar Mafia." It's a Mafia-themed game (with no violence, by the way) designed to help teach grammar to students in grades seven to nine. It took a bit of work to create, but I think the kids will really like it.

I'm also planning to create themed games for use in my history classes, and I want to make at least two more English games. I have found from experience that the more fun kids have in class, the more information you can cram into their fertile young minds. I am hoping to have a nice stack of brand new games by the time school starts. By creating them myself rather than buying existing games, I can make my classes more unique and hold the interest of my students better.

I'll try to post some pictures of my game creations later.

"Yes, We Can!"

This is an apparently rather controversial poem that I wrote a few weeks ago and posted on my Facebook page. It generated so much conversation, that I have decided to post it on my blog as well.

“Yes, We Can!”

“Come get your government hand-out!”
Hear your Uncle Sammy shout.
“Stimulous and stimuli,
Ain’t I just the nicest guy?”

“Need a bail-out, two, or three?
Who needs responsibility?
Come one, come all -- the purse is deep!
No need to go on losing sleep!”

“Give your execs that extra raise,
And the dear Dems all the praise.
Don’t worry where it’s coming from,
Just hold out your hands and get some!”

“Eight billion, nine, maybe ten?
Take your fill again and again!
Santa Obama loves you all,
Whether your sins are big or small.”

“Tomorrow’s kids can pay the bill,
Surely you don’t think that we will!
Let the future handle the debts,
That’s where our great strategy sets.”

“You’re happier now than before--
Although we forgot to end the war.
And we did insult some foreign heads--
But so what? - They were mostly reds.”

“Keep trusting us; we do so great,
Never mind the jobless rate.
Two steps back to go forward one,
Our brilliant work has just begun.”

“If you can’t see your present heaven,
There’s always chapter eleven!
People are starving, but be glad,
The last guy in was really bad!”
"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"