Disclaimer: These are my views and do not reflect the views of the Peace Corps.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stumbling Blindly Through Wooden Fences

I haven't been able to update much recently, and I apologize for that. Things have been happening, mostly good, and, as vague as that sounds I have stories backlogged that I'm planning to write and post later. I was in Battambang and then Phnom Penh. I came back to site yesterday and I'm leaving tomorrow to head up to Siem Reap for the half marathon, but here's to today.

I got up before my alarm this morning, slightly tired, spoiled from sleeping on a mattress for the last few days in A/C. I had the usual (oatmeal with peanut butter and coffee) and then I lifted weights for a bit until it was time to shower and go to school.

At school, I ran into my tutor and one of my co-teachers (not the one who was supposed to be teaching with me at that moment) and we talked in a semi-fluent manner in Khmer until my other co-teacher showed up, about fifty minutes late. I had missed class earlier in the week, thus had no room to complain. I have yet to lesson plan with my co-teachers due to their busy schedules and likely a bit of reluctance on their part, so I'm pretty used to teaching on the fly. That being said, I like to have at least a few activities prepped that are outside of the book and get the students engaged. I was off to a rough start with the first class after a failed attempt at "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" (an activity that had worked so well with my host-family / neighbor kids language group). I swear, at times, teaching can feel like stumbling blindly through wooden fences, but we came back and had some success with the second warm-up. Then, we did vocabulary together, which went smoothly and worked out of the book until our hour was up. The next class went significantly better (I decided to leave the head and shoulders bit out). Also, it's always easier the second time going through material, no matter how much you plan. We had an extra forty minutes for this class (it's hard to justify being late to the second of back to back classes) and I made sure it was used. With a little more than my usual gentle cajoling, I politely requested that my co-teacher help me set up a group activity. He hadn't really taught yet that morning, and probably assumed that I was just going to keep teaching away, but we stopped and set up an activity where the students came up with a news report about different topics. It worked! This was the first time anything without a rigidly fixed outcome had actually worked in class. The group element wasn't perfect, but there was some collaboration. I was beaming as I walked out of class.

After class, I met a Englishman. He was friends with one of the teachers at the school. We went out to coffee and spoke some English (speaking English is a luxury, like a nice bottle of wine). He lives a bit far away with his wife at an orphanage. I couldn't stay for long because I had to go eat lunch and still had two more English classes, but it was a pleasant chat.

My next class had eight students. Three of them were the best students in the class. It was the day after the test, and, like many college classes in America, a bunch of the students decided not to show up. The test had thrown off the lesson plan from the morning, but I was excited to work with a small number of students. About halfway into the period, everything was going splendidly, and one of my better students asked me to sing a song. I don't remember how it came up, but I thought for a second, and of course I began running through the Beatles songs that I could teach. I may as well give them something of quality. We had just learned "find out" as a vocabulary word, and bam! I thought of Lennon's "I Found Out" Being on the spot, I botched the lyrics. I wrote, "I told you before, don't knock on my door, I won't let you in, Don't even begin, I-- I found out, I-- I found out" well, it's not the original, but it rhymes. It didn't sound all that bad either... I really belted out the chorus (of course, the only part I really knew) I felt like I was singing along to "Eye of the Tiger". Does anyone really know the words to that one? Anyway, it went great! I had a blast, as did the kids. I repeated my performance in the next class and felt all productive and what not.

I went for a run with my English club group (basically the kids that live around my house). It wasn't my fastest run, but it was tight! We saw a snake, ran up to the top of the watt, and I had a comprehensible conversation on the way back with Michel (all in Khmer) There was a gorgeous sunset on top of the mountain as I ran down the fireroad followed by three Khmer kids.

I had dinner with the family a few hours ago, and I'm still full. Afterward, I taught another English lesson in the living room. I can't wait to go see Anchor Watt for more reasons than one!

It's bedtime (9:30 is late for me)

A pesar del espacio,


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