Friday, February 27, 2009

My Secret Unicorn

Funny book stories... well at least they were funny to me, who has been breathing books 24/7 for the past 2 weeks.

First, one of the books sent in the last box of books (which arrived yesterday night, from my parents) was The Night Before Christmas. It was one of the old Little Golden Books, a tale that most Americans can probably quote the first few lines verbatim. The kids were looking through the books, and one girl, Diane, happened to choose this particular book. She came up and asked me, "what does this word mean?" The word was chimney. True, Filipinos are constantly using fires for cooking where we are, but chimney is just not an everyday word used. It just reminded me how things can be so different sometimes.

Next story, another girl had read one of the books that came earlier, titled something like The Magical Unicorn. I can't remember if that was the exact title, but it was definitely something with an intense sense of magical fantasy... something any girly girl would probably thrive off of. She had found a page in the book that previewed a sequal to come, titled My Secret Unicorn, and she told me how she really wanted to read it. I told her I'd try to get a copy, but it would probably take a while to find one. I happened to find one though when I was going through some of the new books, so I was really excited to tell the girl that it would be at school on Monday for her. She was so happy, gave me a huge smile, and left the library for the weekend. Literally about 2 steps behind the girl, a boy from second year stops and looks at me, with the most hopeful looking eyes ever and asks, "Really, there's My Secret Unicorn?" I tell him yes, and ask if he'd like to borrow it when the girl is finished reading it. He has a huge smile when he tells me, "Oh, yes ma'am!"

haha, so great.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pacquiao Wannabe's

So I find that while I'm teaching here, I really have to stay on my toes all the time. I guess it's just a cultural thing, but I can get lost in the conversation or have no idea of what's going on. It's exhausting trying to be on the same page that everybody else is naturally turned to, and today I think I was at least a chapter behind everybody else.

My second class today was a first year one. We're reviewing simple tense verbs again, as well as beginning to get in the routine of taking vocabulary tests each Friday. So during class, that's what we were doing. I'm standing up front, trying to see if they have any clue what I'm trying to get across, when all of a sudden one of the boys walks over to the other side of the classroom and just throws a crumbled piece of paper at another boy's face. OUT OF NOWHERE! I mean the innocent kidwas just sitting there, trying to follow along with the geeky American. So after about 2 seconds of complete shock, the second kid stands up and is obviously getting ready to hit the first kid. HELP!! They did not go over how to difuse fights being done in other languages during our technical training. Luckily, another one of the boys who is older than the rest and is looked up to by all, see's my look of pain and automatically jumps up to settle the second boy down. Crisis diverted. Both boys go to their own corners and look like they accept the draw.

Sounds like a peaceful resolution, right? Yeah, well that's just the first match. Next, probably 15 minutes later the first boy jumps up and walks outside. This is kind of normal in the classroom. In every school that I've visited here it's pretty much the norm for students to just get up and walk out whenever they want to. I really didn't think anything of it when he left, but when the second boy got up and left I felt like I was standing in the classroom yelling NOOO!!! in a loud slow motion scream. THIS IS NOT GOOD! I walk outside, hoping to talk to the boys, but they've already gotten away, so I leave them to the school's security guy who roams around campus throughout the day.

When I step back into the room though, the entire class is standing around the windows, clapping, and yelling PACQUIAO! PACQUIAO! Not a good sign for the teacher! Manny Pacquiao is a famous boxer from the Philippines, thus meaning that the boys had snuck behind the classroom and were getting ready to box. OY! HELP! I go tell the teacher next door, who is also the guidance counselor SCORE! and she tells me to send them to her office. YES MA'AM! THAT I CAN DO!

So I go to the boys, who haven't begun the official hitting yet, and in my most authoritative voice and awsome teacher eye, tell them to get to the guidance counselor's office. AND THEY LISTENED! WOOHOO!

I know students are going to get into fights occasionally, that's just how the ball rolls. Here's the thing though, in America I could have been able to tell you just by reading the student's body language that things were coming to such a boiling point. In this situation however, I had NO CLUE that the boys were going to just get up and start fighting.

My question to myself, Will I ever get on the same page?! Answer: Probably not, but I always eventually catch up! :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

sorry, not interested

I got pulled out from teaching classes today because a couple of salesmen stopped by trying to sell water purifiers. Clean water, extremely important, totally agree. But maybe not pull your teachers out of class to listen to a sales pitch, which on a side note, the American volunteer doesn't understand because it's in Cebuano, and instead make the salesmen wait till a break or at least tell your teachers to expect it.

These things frustrate me. I'm getting better at going with the flow, but things like this get to me. I guess the world's not over though, we'll just make up the work on Tuesday... but not Monday because the president just declared Monday a holiday.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We shall see

I was wrong. Yet another misunderstanding. Jundie didn't have polio. The new story is that he has hemophilia. I'm not sure what to believe, so I've decided to just deal with the facts and observations that I know from my own personal experience: Jundie is 19, his legs are partially paralyzed, he's in extreme pain, he has the best smile ever known to man, and he's moved back to the mountains to stay with his parents because the pain is so bad he can't go to school.

I got my hostmom #2, who is a nurse, to get a truck to drive us to the outer barangay of town where Jundie lives. It's a really difficult drive, and even more difficult to get a truck available (PS. Thanks PC for the rediculous rule of no motorbikes when that's the way all Filipnos travel!). When we got to the house Jundie was in bed, and I was so excited to see him! I brought him some books to read, and told him that was his homework until he could get back to school. He was afraid that he wasn't going to get to school before the fourth quarter finals. What a cool kid to be nervous about not being able to take a test and care about his education.

So, on one hand amazing day because I got to go to a barangay that I'd never been to before and see Jundie. On the other hand, it's not so cool to see somebody in pain and not have a way to relieve it. Today was the first time I ever wished I had finished nursing school so that I would have some inkling of what could be done. Something will happen though, it always does, and hopefully it will be Jundie being able to return to town soon for school, or me being able to go up and tutor him every weekend. We shall see.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Would you like a glass of water?

Yep, that’s what I had to ask the delivery men today after they finished hauling our box of books to the school this afternoon!! WOOHOO!! It was about 2:00 in the afternoon when I looked out the window and saw the two men, both looking like they were about to drop from having to carry this enormous box of books up the hill that the school sits on, trying to find the library.

The kids of course drifted into the library to check out the new arrival, especially Heinrich, who won the first “Guess the Day” contest we had going. February 17th was claimed by him, and he was not only eagerly awaiting his prize candy, but was one of the first kids to grab a book and start reading. I love watching kids read!

This box was sent by one of my new favorite people, Don, who read about the library project on my blog and decided to collect books to send back to his home country. The kids kept asking me who donated these books, and the smiles that lit up their faces when I told them that a Filipino living in America had donated them were bright enough to light up Las Vegas. What an amazing gift.

Aside from watching the kids read and greeting the delivery men, my favorite moment today was when I had a conversation with my counter part Mila about my dreams for the library. I told her how I thought we really should focus on children and younger students. She automatically agreed and then continued the discussion by saying, “That way they will really grow up with a love for reading.” She gets it, and I know this is just the beginning of an amazing addition to Inopacan.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Never Again

Never again will I use pre-made Valentine's Day cards, because getting the homemade kind is so much better! The kids passed out their cards today at school, and it was all around one of the best days ever.

My first year students, who I teach the most, gave me cards decorated with silk flowers, glitter, felt, and colored paper that literally made me have one of Jasmine's "Lenny moments," when I had to try and refrain myself from squeezing them to death in a hug. Too cute.

The two cards that surprised me though were from 2 boys in the second year... my "always add of paper" boys. They always make me laugh, and I think I might actually be more than a big joke to them cause one wrote in his card,

"Dear Ms. Hoover, Thank you for appreciating me when I got the correct answer in your discussion. I wish you all the best in this Valentines and I hope that on this day your heart is filled of happiness and love. Your student, Rainier"

Yep, probably the best Valentine's Day ever.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I'm Excited, Are You?!

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about the books that have been collected and are being sent here for the school's library, and I decided that the kids should have the opportunity to get really excited about the books also. I mean they're coming for them, and they will be ones who are impacted so much by so many wonderful resources. They deserve the right to have a part of this huge event.

To do this, I had a few of the girls in first year create calendars for the months of February, March, and April. I posted them on the front of my desk in the library, and told the kids they have a chance to guess the day that the books will come. I have no clue when the boxes will show up, so it's completely random as to who wins. The students can pick a day by writing their name on the calendar, and if they guess correctly they win a prize. Of course the first question was, "What's the prize?" I come up with American candy, which got a big "OHHH!!!" They're getting really excited.

Not only are they getting excited, but they're also getting competitive. Dovie, one of the other teachers, told me that the kids are even asking her to let them know when she gets a text from the post master to say when I get a package, that way they can rush into the library and sign up for that day. So sorry kids, but these boxes are coming through an independent delivery system... not the regular post office!

I'm also quietly letting kids borrow children books that my parents sent in an earlier box so they can see what type of books will be coming. I think seeing the books is more exciting for them than the possible candy prize. For example, I was talking with Lyka Mae today about what her elementary school was like, and she told me how she went to school in the mountains, so there were only 9 people in her class, and it was a "very poor school" which had no books. In the past four days, Lyka Mae has borrowed 4 books, 3 of which were chapter books. Apparently she's been reading them during her vacant and recess time. I can't wait for Lyka Mae to see the books coming!

Monday, February 9, 2009

He's Got My Vote.

I heard some information the other day, and I'm not entirely sure if it's true of not, but I'm starting to think it is more and more. I think one of my students had polio.

I first heard from one of the other teachers. We were discussing some of the students that have had the easiest time adjusting to me. I mentioned one boy, Jundie, who probably has the best smile of anyone I've ever met. He's always so sweet, and tries his hardest at all the exercises we do, including the reading remediation program I've started. Anyways, she told me how Jundie's family is from the mountains, and a couple years ago he had polio.

First off, do people still get polio? I am kind of doubting it. I mean I know there are some places in the world where it is still a threat, but here? Second, I misunderstand a lot of things, and I was kind of wondering if I had somehow gotten the story wrong. So I decided to do some investigating. I went straight to the source.

I asked Jundie when he came to the library one day if he had ever heard of polio before. He did his amazing smile, patted his legs, and shook his head yes. Ok, well, that's a pretty definite yes I guess. Jundie's legs are partially paralyzed, making him unable to bend them. So, I'm thinking he probably really had polio.

Jundie told me that when he was 14 he had it, and that's when his legs wouldn't work properly. He was living up in the mountains at the time. When asked if he remembered a lot of it, he told me it was very painful. He's now 19 and in first year. He's one of the oldest in first year, so I'm sure the whole thing took him a while to recover from. He's such an amazing kid. He doesn't let things stop him, and he inspires me to keep going.

I felt kind of inadequate when I was talking to Jundie. I mean, what do I really know about Polio aside from the fact that Franklin Roosevelt had it? So, I decided the best thing I could do was to tell Jundie FDR's story. I got an old encyclopedia and showed him FDR's picture and read him the portion about polio and then pointed out how even though he had things to overcome, he still become one of the greatest presidents in America's history. I told Jundie I thought he could definitely become President of the Philippines. He smiled his amazing Jundie smile.

Friday, February 6, 2009

what is she doing?!

I do things now that I’ve never done before. They are things that at first I didn’t even realize I do them, but I would catch myself and say, “Huh, that’s new.” Here are some of them:

1. Holding my breath- People are pretty devoted to raking their yards. After they rake though, they’ll burn the leaves, or I should say they smoke the leaves. They’ll make piles in the yards and then let them just smoke for an hour until the leaves eventually turn to ash. This does two things, gets rid of the leaves and helps control mosquitoes. It smells bad though, so I’m always holding my breath until I pass the smoke. This was one of the ones that I really didn’t know I did it until I caught myself not breathing.

2. Daydreaming- I can literally sit for an hour and not have any idea of what I’ve been thinking about for the past 60 minutes. I blame this one A) having so much free time that I can actually sit for an hour with nothing to do, B)I have to sit through so many meetings and masses where I just don’t know enough of the language to follow along and it’s not an appropriate time to ask for language help, plus I’m not really involved in what’s being discussed, so I just kind of tune out, and lastly C) sometimes I do vaguely keep track of what I’m thinking, and it’s usually about what to do next, and thinking of the future helps with the present.

3. Umbrella, hankie, and 5 pesos- I can’t leave the house without your umbrella, a hankie, and 5 pesos or I feel lost. Umbrellas are probably one of the most useful inventions ever created, whether it’s to keep the rain off you or the sunshine. Hankies are just to help with the sweating, and 5 pesos will get you a put-put (bicycle taxi) ride around town. Never leave the house without them.

4. Oy!- It’s my new favorite word. Oy can basically be used anytime and in any situation . It can be a “No Way!” “I don’t think so!” “I can’t believe it!” “Are you sure?” “Oh brother.” And the list goes on and on. The Filipnos will always laugh when I say it, not because I say it incorrectly like all the other words I say, but because I actually say it like a Filipino. I probably say oy about 25 times a day… it’s out of control.

5. Thanks for the little things- I’ve really become more appreciate of the little things. The country that I live in is not as tough survival wise as other Peace Corps countries. I don’t have to haul water into my house, electricity is readily available, even cable television is pretty normal, but I’ve become more aware of how these things make our lives easier and more enjoyable. I hold my breath in anticipation every time my computer comes on, hoping it will all be alright, I say a big “YES!” when my umbrella opens all the way, and I say a blessing before every meal I eat. I really am so blessed.

6. Overwhelmed- Quantity overwhelms me now. My parents sent me a huge box yesterday, and inside were books for the library. It was so exciting, but so overwhelming at the same time! I can’t imagine walking into Publix and seeing so many types of canned corn or half an isle worth of different types of barbeque potato chips. Isn’t one type enough, or maybe two or three for price competition, but surely we don’t need twelve or thirteen brands of one type of canned vegetable. Simplicity is the best.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hail Mary, Full of Grace

Probably one of the best conversations, aside from the Chinese New Year one, I’ve had with my host mom happened yesterday. She’s been helping me get ready for the move and everything, and while we were finishing up I asked her about the Rosary. I know I am very ignorant about the catholic faith, especially considering I’ve been here for 6 months and Catholicism is at the foundation of almost everything they do, but I want to learn more. Anita is the perfect person to ask about it.

Anita was very patient in explaining it to be, how the rosary is a tool for praying and helps you to meditate. She even gave me special booklet that tells what to do and say for each bead, and which mysteries to read for each day. She also gave me a rosary to use.

I tried it last night, and today, and I know I’m not catholic, but I like a lot of the things that the rosary does. First off, I’m a very visual person. I would much rather write a prayer to God than to say one aloud because I am better able to organize my thoughts. After being visual, my next learning style would have to be kinesthetic. I guess this is why the rosary beads help me stay focused on what I’m doing. I mean, I’ve begun to pray before, and actually just shut off my mind and forgotten that I was having a conversation with God. I know that makes me sound like a mental case, but it’s hard for me to focus sometimes. The beads in my hands though seems to keep me on the path, and while the Hail Mary’s and Fatima Prayer are new to me, the Apostle’s Creed, Our Father and Glory Be are the same ol’ ones that Mrs. Larimer made me learn in 3rd grade Sunday School.

I have a new appreciation for Anita. I can tell that she lives out her faith, and when she took the time to teach me and gave me the rosary beads, I knew she cared for me. And although I may have a different religious background and what not, she’s showed me how we all have a lot in common. I loved it when she answered my question about what she thinks of other religions with, “It is all the same God. I just want us to all get along.” I can respect that.