Posts Tagged ‘preparation’

School – Week 1

School started on Monday, so we just finished our first week (unofficially).  We have a half day on Saturday but nothing on Friday so the week is really over on Thursdays (we can’t give homework on Saturdays).  For those who don’t know, I teach 6th grade History and Bible, 8th grade Earth Science, 9th grade Physical Science, and 10th grade Biology.  I was a little nervous to teach science, since I didn’t really take a ton of it in college and I was never super excited about it in school.  I like it well enough but it’s no English or History (my two favs).  Anyway, the first week has been WONDERFUL!  Let me tell you all about it.

This was what I wore for the first day of school!

This was what I wore for the first day of school!

I started each of my classes the same on Monday.  “My name is Miss Laura.  Not Miss.  Not Laura.  Miss Laura.  I will not respond to anything else.  Now, clear your desks for a quiz (it was a “tell me about yourself” quiz).”  As soon as the quiz was handed in, I passed out the syllabus and started in on that.  Then if there was time we started the first section in the book or an activity.

My 8th graders are the first period of the day.  Heeheehee.  They looked as though they were going to wet themselves!  But as class progressed I saw their personalities start to come out!  They are a great group of kids.  Most are very inquisitive which is great for a science class.  And smart!  Boy, o boy they keep me on my toes.

My 10th graders are the 3rd period (second period is my prep).  There are only 8 students in the 10th grade and they’ve all been going to school together since 6th grade!  They LOVE to talk in my class and their goal is to get me off topic and not teaching!  What they don’t know is that I only “let them succeed” if I want to … not because they’ve somehow found a way to make me forget I’m supposed to teach them!

My 6th graders are 4th and 6th periods but because of schedule changes this week I haven’t taught them yet.  I’ve met some of them on the playground though and one little girl came up to me after school on Thursday, “Miss … Miss Laura, when are you going to teach our class?”  Smiling I said, “I’ll be there on Saturday!”  She nodded, smiled, and ran off to play!  Cute, cute, cute!

My 9th graders are 5th period.  the first day they acted all indifferent to me.  It was as if they wanted me to know they weren’t going to like me or my class … no matter how hard I tried!  But by the end of the school day they were chatting with me before their rides came.

Every morning I go out to the courtyard to hang out and chat with the students.  Most of the girls will at least come over and say “hello Miss Laura.”  Some actually seek me out for a conversation!  YAY!  We also have one break during the day – like a lunch/recess.  I only have to be out at break on Mondays, but I’ve been out during each one because it’s another chance to get to know these kids and find a way into their worlds!

Teens here are not too different than teens in other parts of the world.  They want to get out of work, they want to be understood, and they want to be cool!  : )  I love teenagers!  They are definitely the most interesting people in the world because that stage in life is so … dynamic!

Since this was our first week of classes we were on half days.  The elementary school used their Monday through Thursday schedule and just cut it short, but the high school used their Saturday schedule (hence the schedule changes that led to no 6th grade classes this week).  But because of this, I got to be outside for the elementary school breaks too!  So fun! Those kids are super cute but mischievous.  They try everything to get under the rules.  One of the other teachers would stand at the door to the school and not let a single kid inside unless they could tell her where they were going.  The kids are only allowed inside during break if they are headed to the bathroom or canteen.

Another plus of the schedule issues: I got to play Save the King (dodgeball) with the 4th graders!  I joined one team and we easily won because I could actually catch the ball when it was thrown!  Then the losing team said I HAD to switch teams for the second game.  So I was the one everyone tried to get out!  It was SO fun!  But the best part was the kids’ reactions to my tattoos.  They just didn’t get it and kept asking why I wear those (pointing to my right arm).  I didn’t really know how to explain tattoos to 9 and 10 year olds so I just said “because I like them.”  This seemed to be enough for them.  But a few would then ask if I could take them off and things like that.  When school ended, one of the little 4th grade boys came up to me and was continuing to ask about my tattoos.  After a minute or two he innocently looks longingly into my eyes and asks “can you get me one?”  I was speechless!  “Ummm… you have to have money,” I said with my arms up.  “I have money, Miss.”  He was excited now!  “Ummm…you have to be 18!”  In my head I’m thinking, this is bad.  This kid is going to go home and ask for tattoos like the cool teacher at school and his parents are going to freak out!  But he had to leave then so the conversation was dropped.

Even my high schoolers ask me about my tattoos.  “Why do you have them?”  “Do they hurt?”  “Do they come off?”  “What are they?”  “What do they say?”  “Let me see it!”  Etc.  It is nice that I don’t have to cover them up for school (unless our superintendent is around).

A few of my students are … inquisitive (a handful!).  They will take a little extra love to get through to but I know that God has me here to be that person for these kids!

Yesterday I had 2 of my 3 high school classes taking quizzes (the 3rd took theirs on Wednesday) and as we graded them I was laughing … hard.  “Miss?”  “Miss who?”  Eye roll, “Miss Laura?”  “Yes?”  “Is planets and stars okay?”  Yes.”  “Miss Laura, is planets and the sun okay?”  “Yes.”  “Miss Laura, is meteors and planets okay?”  “Yes, guys if planets was okay for one of you, it’s going to be okay for all of you!”  Heeheehee.  That is what I deal with!  “Miss?”  “Miss who?”  Eye roll, “Miss Laura … then they ask the same question that the last 5 kids asked!  It cracks me up … hopefully we’ll work on listening skills and get that taken care of by the end of the first 9 weeks.

Well, I think that’s enough for Week 1.   I know my kids will fill more blog posts!  Stay tuned!

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D-Day

Today is the day I leave for my my big adventure.  I’m not sure how should be feeling right now.  I’m a big mix of emotions.

1. Sadness:  I am not ready to leave my friends.  They are great people and I’m going to miss them immensely.  I have come to lean on them for support in life and I’m not sure if I’m ready to change that just yet.

2. Nervousness:  Travel is never an easy thing and I’ll be on an airplane for 18 hours (with time changes)!  Not to mention I’ll be traveling internationally so there will be customs and passports and check points and possible interrogations.  Yikes!

3. Excitement: I will get to see the places Jesus saw!  ‘Nough said.

4. Anxiety: Will the students like me?  Will I be able to relate to them?  Will I be able to teach them?  Will my roommate like me?  Will I like the food?  Etc.

5. Confidence:  This is my path and I am supposed to follow it.  Who am I to mess with God’s plan and work?!

Well, that’s really all I have right now.  Wish me luck!

airplane2

Middle East: A History

So, I am going to be teaching my students World and US History.  I decided that the only way I can be a relevant teacher and actually educate them well is to be well educated on their history and current events.  So here is some of what I’ve been learning (or relearning in some cases):

Middle_East98The Middle East is one of the most volatile places in the world.  Everyone is vieing for the same land and everyone is playing dirty to get it!  We are going to focus on the Israelis and Palestinians (since this is who I will be around).  Okay so, the small land we know as Israel used to belong to the Palestinian people.  They lived on that land even before the Ottoman Empire took control of the Middle East.  They actually started settling in the land during the Roman Empire’s rule in 70AD when the Jews were actively driven from the land (so basically since the beginning of modern history).  Unfortunately for all of the people in the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire sided with Germany during WWI (bad idea).

When the Central Powers lost the war, the Ottoman’s lost their land.  Great Britain and France (in the “infinite” wisdom – idiots) carved up the Middle East (much like they did Africa) and split it up between them – I don’t think the French understand 50/50 though because the British Empire had a TON more land than they!  Anyway …

When the French and British carved up the land they did not take into account the people groups living on it and thus ww2-newspaperbegan the battle for land, prosperity, and cohesion between and among the people living in the Middle East.  Egypt and Turkey quickly gain their independence but the rest is still being ruled by people who don’t care enough to even try to understand their plight.  Idiots!

Then World War II happened.  Yes, I think the Nazis are bad people and what they did to the Jews (and others) was wrong no matter how you try to spin it!  I 100% agree that no one should be exterminated or tortured or otherwise destroyed for any reason (I’m anti-capitol punishment).  The Jewish people definitely needed a place to call their own.  They have been persecuted since the time of Abraham (the first Jew).  They have survived many exiles, the diaspora, mass extermination, persecution from almost every other people group, and more.  They are an amazingly strong willed people who deserve our respect and our help in creating peace.  But

The big BUT:

No amount of persecution, exile, hatred, or bloodshed gives any person the right to do the same thing to another person (did I mention I am against capitol punishment?).  What I mean by this is that no one can rightfully say that because I was hurt I can hurt you!  Why am I saying this?  The Jews told the people living in the land now known as Israel that the land was now theirs.  Basically they kicked the current land owners out because they needed a place to go.   And most of the Jews moving into the area did not experience the Nazis, exiles, etc firsthand – nor did the people living in the area cause the pain of the Jewish ancestors.

slaveryThis would be like my black friends coming up to me and saying that because at one point in history black people were slaves to white people, I owe them a new car.  Well, I didn’t enslave anyone and my friend was never enslaved … so I own them nothing for that time in history (except my efforts to make sure nothing like that ever happens again).

Now don’t think I’m sitting here siding with the Palestinians … that isn’t it.  I’m just saying that the Jews took over their land without really having a right to do it (I am not talking religion here).  Now since this time (May 14, 1948) the Palestinians have been retaliating against the statehood of Israel.

The Intifada (Palestinian Uprising) was a bad way to go about trying to get back your land.  These rebellious acts against Israel started in 1987 and have only caused more bloodshed and unrest in the area.  It hasn’t helped the Palestinians get back their land and it hasn’t helped either side trust or respect the opposite.  It has also created a need to greatly restrict the movement of the Palestinians – especially those living outside of Israel in the disputed territories (the West Bank and Gaze Strip).  This restriction has made it safer to travel but as created a WWII ghetto effect on the area.

The Palestinians live in Refugee Camps that were first formed in the creation of the state of Israel.  I mean, come on America, we couldn’t even give them REAL houses or cities or anything?!  Good night!

Anyway, the current climate of the area is unrest and distrust.  There are very few people working toward a unified or at least peaceful resolution to the conflict.  Things have been easier to deal with when Palestine was given the right and opportunity to govern itself though the Palestinian Authority (formerly the Palestinian Liberation Organization).  But even with the forming of this political group there is very little resolution being made between the two people justice-scalesgroups.

Who is right?

Who am I to answer that?

All I know is God has lead me to these people and I will do everything I can to help them know Him better and create peace in their own lives – even if it never comes for the land!

More history lessons will come as I learn more about the area!

Waiting

I don’t like waiting.  I’ve never been much good at patience!  I have about 60 days before the big voyage across the world and (though I’m nowhere near ready to depart) I am ready for the waiting to be over!

clocks____I want to meet the people I’ll be living and working with.  I want to see all the amazing sights.  I want to experience 18 hours on an airplane.  I want to get my very first passport book stamp!  I want to go, do, see, be!  But I’m stuck waiting!

Don’t get me wrong … I am not ready to leave behind my life – I’m not ready for the sacrifices of friends and community and “normal” electrical outlets.  I love my life and I love my family – those biological and not!  I don’t like to think of the action of leaving because it makes me sad but I hate the anticipation.

In fact most times something big was coming I would get sick!  Because I’d be so focused on it that I’d excite myself enough to not get the … whatever I needed and my body would retaliate with a cold!  I don’t want to be sick for my first week of Bethlehem!

60 days!

Prayer Requests:

Finding people to take my place in groups I led

My family … still

Finding people to fill my gaps in my communities and friendships (I don’t want someone to lose growth because I’m gone)

ME!

Praises:

I’m still excited.

I have amazing support to lean on when I’m not so excited.

I’m slowly moving through my check list and feeling good about my pace.

Support

Dear Friend,

Most of you who read this letter know me well.  For those who don’t (thanks for taking the time to read this); I am an honest take-me-as-I-am person who doesn’t beat period – on, in, or around the bush or anywhere else.  I refuse to sugar coat this letter to make it sound like something it is not.  I am seeking both financial and prayer support.  I will need both for the journey I am starting.  I need your help to bring the vision and calling God has given me into fulfillment so without further comment I bring you The Support Letter.

In a very short time I will be moving to Bethlehem (as in O Little Town Of) in Palestine.  I am teaching History and Bible to 10th, 11th, and 12th grader students at one of the local schools.  I will live and work in Bethlehem for tenCB022158 months (August 2009 – June 2010).  Unfortunately, I will not be paid for this position other than receiving housing at the school.  This is where you come in.

I know deep in my soul that God is leading me to these students but I do not have the money necessary to get there and live for ten months!  I am looking for one-time gifts or monthly support.  Do not feel bad if you cannot give financially because I also need prayer warriors continually lifting me, the other teachers, and the students up to God.

And, yes, you can be both a monetary giver and prayer warrior!

Maybe you know other people who would be willing to support this journey – feel free to pass my story and info on to them as well!

Lastly, if you would like to hear about my time in Bethlehem continue checking out this blog.

worship1Thank you for your part in my life and this next chapter of it!  I know God is going to use you all mightily.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Laura

*For more information on sponsoring or praying for me please comment below!

Paperwork and Selling Stuff

I just got an email saying that some vital paperwork is due … today.  I am supposed to fax it to the school or something so they can process it tomorrow.  Here’s a … challenge: I don’t have a fax machine.  And I don’t work for a company that would let me use theirs.  I am not quite sure what I’m going to do – call in a favor I guess.

PaperworkAnyway, the paperwork is basically an application – normal stuff like address, experience, education, references, etc.  Nothing too terrible.  I’ll probably complete it in about 10 minutes but it does ask for a passport number and if you’ve ever been out of the country and I spent 5 days in Toronto (before 9/11) so I  don’t have my passport.  I’ve ordered it but it won’t be here for a little while – like the middle of July!  Yikes!  I hope that’s okay – I mean I can’t really do anything about it now but I feel bad (a little).

Now with the Volunteer Application came a “Here’s What To Expect” Sheet.  It’s all kinds of crazy!  I mean most of it I was anticipating but that doesn’t make it any easier to be almost 25 and know that I’m going to have to ask to do most things I’ve been doing without thinking for over 10 years.  But that’s what I signed up for so I’m sure I’ll bulk against it some but fall underneath the authority like the “good girl”  I am.

On top of having paperwork and passports and visas to worry about, I am trying to sell all my crap (want some?).  Itfor sale isn’t crap – it’s just a lot more stuff than I ever thought I had.  I’d get one area of my apartment all cleaned out and go *sigh* “I feel better – all done.”  Then I’d open a door or a drawer and more stuff was there waiting for me.  I think my board games were gloating!  Anyway, I am having a moving sale – EVERYTHING MUST GO – if you need anything (dvds, books, guitar, bike, tv, ceiling fan, computer, printer, assorted dishware, assorted cookware, assorted wall art, vacuum, couch and love seat combo, etc.  Lemme know!

I promise I’m done plugging my sale!  PLUG!  Okay really finished now.

Even with all the work I have to do I’m excited and unnaturally peace-filled about the trip.  I have just over 60 days before I leave everything and everyone I’ve ever known.  That’s kind of scary.  Anyway…

Prayer Requests:

I would like to sell everything I have – the money would help with my trip

To quickly receive my passpoart and easily attain all other documentation I need

My family – I will miss them and I know it’s going to be hard on them (especially Mom)

The people I’m goint to work with and meet in Bethlehem – teachers, nationals, students, etc. – God is working in their life and I’d love for them to see it!

Praises:

I found someone to take over my apartment lease!  YAY!desk_calendar_1

My family – they are letting me go

My friends – without them I wouldn’t be able to make the next 60+ days