Friday, February 24, 2012

Ready, Set, Dance!

February 20th- 26th:

My third year students could not concentrate in class the two days before, maybe even more but it was noticeable the final two waiting days, their junior/senior prom. I quickly realized that their JS prom was a lot different than the one I experienced as a high school student. A lot of preparation time was spent practicing for the “Rigodon de Honor.” The students selected their dance partner and the learned the steps to the dance. It reminded me a lot of the ballroom dances we studied in high school gym class. The only place for them to practice was on the rocky open field that is at the center of our school yard. This seems like a fine place to practice but not when the climate is getting warmer by the day and the participants do not like exposing their skin to the sun for over 5 seconds. For me, a free natural tan before the big dance sounds perfect. For them, the darker the skin the uglier they are, their words not mine. But, the dance is important so they put on their long sleeves, hats, carried their umbrellas and fans and danced the day away, determined to get every step just right. The dance would be at the school so the Friday before the big event they decorated the stage with red and pink fabric and hearts. The mayor let the school borrow a set of outdoor hanging lights and a disco light to hang up over the court where the dancing would take place.

On the day of the dance, the girls all dolled up and the boys dressed to impressed, they were ready for a night to remember. After the introductions, the first big event of the night was when the fourth year students passed on a large sparkly gold key that represents the responsibilities of being fourth year students. (The fourth year students are always doing projects around the school campus to help improve the facility; building benches, they just installed a new sink, planting trees, they are currently slowly piecing together a basketball hoop & court, taking broken desks and making new ones, and more.) Then, one of the fourth year students gave an inspirational speech in which he created a story using the fourth year students and the jobs that he could see them living. Unfortunately, during this it started to down pour. The students ran for their classrooms, the dance floor quickly flooded, the excitement took a giant leap towards sadness. The students near me were joking about doing the sun dance. While we were doing the sun dance I was wishing that magical powers were real and I could stop the heavy rain and put the magic back into the atmosphere. The amazing thing is that after all of the short lived frowns went off their faces, it was like everyone simultaneously decided that they just had to make the best of what they had. Their classrooms became the dance floors and the music rang loud throughout the campus.

Later that night, the rain stopped. The second year students who were there helping deliver food and drink and run the event hurriedly wiped the water from the chairs and the 3rd and 4th year students rushed out of their classrooms. One main event that they do is a candlelight ceremony. One by one the fourth year president lit the candle of each fourth student as they slowly formed a two hearts. The outside heart was fourth year, the inside heart was third year. Tapos, the fourth year students lit the candle of the third year student in front of them, symbolizing friendship and passing on the fourth year status. The hugged and shared memories before the dancing continued. On the dance floor, the girls were on one side and the boys on the other. Once a song started the boys walked over to the girls and asked one of them to dance. It reminded me of my junior high dances. The awkward, “I am not sure where to put my hands” and the “we have to dance next to my friends so I can talk to my best friend.” The world of puppy love at its finest. Even though there were no real dates, no expensive dinners, no elaborate decorations at a fancy venue, and more, it was still a night to remember for my high school students filled with lots of dancing, smiling, picture taking, and the feeling of being beautiful and alive!

My classes this week had some memorable moments. First, in my second year we are still practicing writing paragraphs, getting prepared to write the big essay coming up. To make describing objects fun, we did a “Survival Island” project where my students worked in groups to device a survival bag of objects. Each member of the group had to bring two objects and describe the object and why they brought it. Ok, the funny part is this- the first thing that I heard every group say was, “We need a sac of rice!” Filipinos really love rice. All in all, they all came up with really good lists, I was impressed. At the end we chose a winner and I gave them some “What if this happened scenarios” and they were ready with their answers in the blink of an eye. It was a lot of fun. We also did writing pyramids this week to describe objects. They had to write ten sentences, but each sentence you add a word. So, sentence one you use two words, sentence two- three words, sentence three- four words… and so on. It got them to think creatively about their descriptions and chose of words. There was a competition to find the pyramid with the most adjectives used! Reading about flying mermaids, robots, talking clocks and more definitely produced some good reading material! In my third year class we read an excerpt from Macbeth, “The world is a Stage.” This was actually an easier piece for them to understand so we had a lot of fun with the activities. Each student created a timeline on stage. As they remembered past experiences and imagined their future I had them think about the different “acts” of their life and the different audiences of each act. The conversations were out of the ordinary and it helped me learn a lot about my students regarding where they see themselves in the future.

This weekend I am busy preparing myself to leave site for almost two weeks. On Wednesday, February 29th I will travel to Mindoro. Mindoro is an island next to Marinduque. There is a volunteer there who is holding a teacher training at her school. She invited some volunteers to come help her facilitate the lessons. This is great experience for me because Catherine and I have already begun talking about doing a teacher training here in Marinduque. I will stay there until March 4th and then Catherine and I will travel to Cavite for IST (In Service Training). I am excited to see the volunteers who I have not seen for quite some time now! Should be an awesome reunion and also an opportunity to learn, discuss, discover, and plan for the next months of service. I will be in Cavite until March 10th and then I will travel back to site! That’s all for now folks!

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