Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Simple Things In Life

February 27th- March 4th:

Let’s talk about food! Last week Friday, one of the students brought squid to school for the teachers to eat for lunch. I found this out early in the morning. Now, normally I would have been thinking all day about whether I would actually eat the squid or not but I did not think about it at all. Lunch time came around and I just got my rice, put the squid on my plate and started eating like it was any other standard meal. I just cut the squid up into smaller pieces and ate it. It was a little difficult to cut with a spoon but manageable. I did cut the eye out though. I had four on my plate and when I was finished I actually wanted more. I figured I would not be greedy because the teachers all seemed to be enjoying them too! One of the teachers who I eat lunch with everyday cut into her squid and the ink squirted out on her shirt in the shape of the Philippines! It was comical, had everyone laughing. This experience reminded me about when I was in Australia. A popular dish there is baby octopus. When I would go out to dinner with my Australian friends they would always order baby octopus. At that point in my life, I got the squirms just thinking about putting a little octopus in my mouth, I never ate one! Now, the thought, not eating the squid, never crossed my mind. Guess I am not so persnickety anymore!

When I was in Boac a few weeks ago with my Gemma we went to my favorite bakery. Normally I just buy this really tasty and incredible banana, raisin, and cinnamon bread. I think I really like it because of the cinnamon flavor. She had me try a hot dog wrapped in waffle. Kind of like a corn dog but I try to stay away from the hot dogs here because they are bright pink. Not that the hot dogs I loved to eat as a kid were natural and healthy in any way, but a bright pink hot dog really just does not look healthy. The waffle on the outside was really good. They sold different kinds of waffle products; they each had a different filling: cheese, fruit, plain, hot dog. Next time I might go for the plain. I miss waffles.

At my favorite little imported foods store I found penne noodles. I had everything I needed to make the perfect pasta dish for me. I did just that the other night for dinner. Penne noodles, with a creamy, spicy pasta sauce, a lot of basil (thanks to my mother), tomatoes, and parmesan cheese on top! Oh yeah. Sometimes the store will run out of items and I am not exactly sure when the shipments come but I hope that penne noodles continue to be in the shipments!

In the world of fruit, mangoes are back on the shelves in the market and I am just well, happy! To be honest I did not know that mangoes had a season but apparently they do and that time is now so I plan to eat way too many mangoes. When I went to a training this past week with some 268 volunteers (they have been in country for over two years now) they also shared this happiness. They informed me of a place in the Philippines where they hold Mango festival- all you can eat mangoes! This happens at the end of April, beginning of May. I do not know if I can fit it in my schedule this year due to the fact that now more than ever before I find myself saying there is not enough time in a day.

Enough talk about food because it is making me hungry. Right now I am sitting at Island Cove Resort in Cavite, Philippines. One of the best things about island cove is taking a hot shower. It is kind of cool when things that used to be mundane can now completely alter my mood in such a good way. I am definitely learning about the power of the little things in life and how sometimes you just have to maximize the awesomeness of something simple because, why not? The past two days we have been having various sessions to help us improve our effectiveness as volunteers and share our story about the first five months at site. Right now though I want to take the time to reflect (reflection is for my own benefit) and write to you about my experience in Bulalacao Mindoro at a teacher methodology training…

I mentioned in my previous blog that I would be going to Mindoro to help facilitate this training to teachers at a Peace Corps volunteer’s site. When I was writing that I was unaware of how big of an impact the four day period would have on me. I was hoping for and looking forward to the experience, gaining new knowledge, spending time with fellow volunteers and I got all of that but I there was also a spark inside of me that was lit, a spark of inspiration to just throw my heart and soul into my ideas. 

Catherine and I co-planned and co-taught sessions on higher order thinking skills and multiple intelligences. Shea and Leine did the same for classroom management and power. We also used interactive strategies in our lessons plans to help showcase the ideas of using interactive strategies in the classroom to help manage, engage, and inspire students. I saw on a book cover today the quote,“I don’t teach, I inspire.” The teachers that we were teaching have been to seminars before but never a seminar quite like the one that we had planned for them. It is common that the teachers attend seminars where they just sit, listen, write, learn, and get a certificate. Our session has a component of action, fun, and active participation! How did the teachers feel about this? They absolutely loved it! Because I have never taught adults before on this level I was a little nervous about my competency to share my knowledge and passions with a group of people who have far more experience than me in the area of focus. However, seeing their smiling faces, watching their eyes light up to the new ideas that seemed like magically powers, and working with a group of people who are so energetic helped me to flush out the nerves.

At the end of the two day training we had the participants write a reflection letter. They had to choose one thing that they learned, explain it and share how they were going to use it in their classroom. We had prepared them for this activity in the reflection/processing stage of the lessons. I got butterflies when someone read their letter aloud. They said, “I can’t wait to go to school on Monday so that I can try what I learned with my students!” The positive energy in the room was so high. We also talked about how the participants can share their new knowledge with other teachers and how important it is to continue to spread the idea that teaching can change into inspiring with a few minor adjustments!

I still have a lot of reflection to do.

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