Saturday, December 8, 2012

Please excuse my not so good writing, my mind is already in America!

November 26th- December 9th:

Honestly, it is really hard for me to concentrate on anything right now due to extreme excitement. Six more sleeps until I fly home to Wisconsin.  

Bacud- Bacud is a small barangay just a short jeepney ride away from my house. After getting off the jeep you have to hike down the mountain side until you reach a flawless nook in the woods. The community reminds me of a campsite, although the campers are there for a lifetime. Mam Helen, one of the new student teachers at my house lives there. It only took about one hour for me to realize that this was my new favorite spot on the island. We borrowed a row boat to take into the deep water to see the corals. It was a relief to see coral that was still thriving. We paddled along staring at the land down under. I was with Joanne and Ayra in the boat. They were both afraid to be in such deep water because they were not confident they could swim. What if the boat tipped over? Just another situation in which it was mind boggling to me that people who live on an island cannot swim. They typical stay in the shallow water, whether it is fear of sharks or fear or drowning that prevents them from gliding into water deeper than their knees. Good motivation to keep planning my Summer Survival Swim course. There was a group of spear fishes who were startling to watch. With their handmade gun, fins, and goggles, they dove down under countless times. I got to hold the spear gun and it was a lot heavier than I thought it would be. The skill of spear fishing must take years to develop. The children also kept catching my attention. They would chase jelly fish and the small team of fishes even caught an octopus. Funny that when I went to the beach as a kid I played with plastic beach toys and here they play fish crabs, octopus, and jelly fish! The adventure ended with the chef’s special of eel, sea urchin, and oysters! So happy I am finally brave enough to try anything that is placed in front of me.

Gemma moving- Gemma, my counterpart, and her family have been building their new house. It was time for them to move but many things had to happen first. They needed to get one jar of salt and sugar. The salt and sugar would never be used it was just a token of good luck. Next, they needed a large sack of rice, again for luck and prosperity. Next, they needed to get a dwarf coconut tree. One of the students brought one to school one day for Gem’s. Finally I know the answer to my question- “Why do so many houses have a small coconut tree in the front?” They had to move before the full moon so it was crunch time. If they did not make the deadline they would wait until the following month. Phew! They made it and are now happily living in their new house.

Christmas cards- I have only been teaching two sections of second year, normally I teach four. However, because we have the student teachers, one of them is in charge of the other two sections. I had them do a special project because I was not going to be at school for two days. They had to make a Christmas card for a student in America! I asked them all to stand and promise me that they would complete the assignment because it would not be good for one student of the class in the states to not have a Christmas card. The all promised, with outsized smiles on their faces. I had listed down the names of the students in the class and each of them came up and got to choose a name. We had a brainstorm session about things they could tell their new friends about Marinduque and questions they might want to ask. Then, I left them on their own to complete the task in their own special way. Two days later I came back to school. Every student was present in class (which is rare) and every student had a beautifully designed card to give me. I almost cried. The other two sections heard about the activity so I now have two more sets of class names to give them on Monday.

Books arriving, box #2 on the way- After tearing away the tape, the excitement began. The “Oooo’s” and “Aaaa’s” and “look at this” and “look at that” and “wow!’s” were great noise to my ears. Some of the teachers wanted to bring one book home as a Christmas present. I had to assure them that they could all use the books but they had to stay at school. However, we are working on making borrowers card for each book. I am hopeful that the books with help teach my students about the wonderful life that lies beyond the island they were born on. I am hopeful that the story books will help their imaginations expand. I am hopeful that the remedial resources will help my students who lack motivation to learn, the pictures and color will capture their attention. This box was a sample set so we are scheduled to have a meeting next week before I leave so the teachers can choose the types of books they like and would use. We are able to request class sets which would add a whole new style of teaching. Box #2 is already on the way with more samples! In the meantime, we will enjoy the ones we have. There are 121 total and we are going to make a book nook in are classroom where students can come in and check out books before school or during lunch. We are also planning on making bean bags to add a touch of comfort to the reading corner.

The World Without Us, By Alan Weisman- Any readers out there looking for a good book to read- I highly recommend this one. The title says it all so just read it. There is one chapter in the book about plastic. I was in rage when I found out that the hand soap I use and the body was I use have tiny speaks of plastic in the mixture. Apparently, I have been exfoliating my skin with plastic. Why the rage? Because during the day I repeatedly telling my students to not throw plastic on the ground, to bring their bottles to increase their use of plastic and THEN I am going home and flushing plastic down my drain. The ingredient is polyethylene. Check your products people. The hand soap I use is from bath and body works, it is the gel like one. The body wash was one I bought here in the Philippines. Perhaps the foam hand soap from bath and body works is more environmentally friendly. I have no idea what to do with the remaining products that I have? I do not want to use them but I do not want to be wasteful either. Can plastic even exfoliate?

I am not sure when I will get the change to sit down and write again so Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy the spirit, joy, and happiness that capture us all during this time of year.

Bila- Bila Festival (Butterfly Festival) There is a competition between barangays . This is my favorite festival! 

Books, books, books! Finally, they arrived! The wait was definitely worth it. 

Lunch in Bacud! 

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