Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I finally get to post this!

Because the internet hates me, I am even later posting this than I thought.  Fingers crossed that I actually get internet today!  (I didn’t.  It is now the sixth of December and while I did get internet the computer at the café rejected my usb so it’s going to be even longer before this gets posted.  Oh how sorry I feel for you! And now it's the 11th and I'm using the internet in a government office, with their permission, because all the cafes are closed. Sigh)
I have just over a month left and so I am freaking out slightly.  The exams start a week today and I worried that some of my students still haven’t noticed that the summer break is over.  Some children are displaying their mastery of manipulation and are guilt-tripping me every time they get.  I expect to be an utter mess on the 18th of December which will be my final day of school.

But since I haven’t written a blog in ages, I shall stop thinking about my last month-and-a-bit and instead talk about other things have been going on.  First of all, my parents visited!  They were here for just under 2 weeks and we managed to get to 6 Dzongkhags during that time.  I didn’t make dad give a lesson this time but I did make both of them mark books given that their English grammar is much better than mine.  They arrived on the last Sunday in September and I told them that I couldn’t meet them as I had school the next day and they had to stay in Thimphu till Tuesday to get travel permits.  While it was true that I had school and they had to stay, I lied when I said that I couldn’t meet them.  I had my camera all ready to take pictures of their surprised faces but when they appeared I decided that hugs were much more important so I don’t have any photos of their arrival.

When they finally arrived at school (a day late because Monday was a public holiday in Thimphu so they couldn’t get any permits until Tuesday) they were greeted by students who sometimes enthusiastically answered my parents’ questions and sometimes just looked shyly around.  Mom took about ten million photographs, almost all of which I forgot to copy but I did get some.

In the afternoon, because it was club day, I got the kids to put on a mini variety show for my parents and they were very sad that they had just missed the house cultural competition and were sadly about a month early for the actual variety show. Each house performed a Zhungdra (very tradional and older style of dance), a Buedra (slightly more modern but still quite traditional) or a Rigser (very modern danced to pop music).  I apologise if I have misspelled any of those dances.  They also got to see possibly the first performance of the Dashing White Sergeant ever performed into Bhutan.  Some of the steps were slightly improvised and I had to call them out but the kids looked so happy doing the dance that I defy any Scottish Country Dancer to disapprove of their effort.  The other item was my choir who performed Lily Marlene and We Are the Champions.  They didn’t quite get Marlene Dietrich’s accent or strut like Freddie but they still did a beautiful job.  Dad, however, thought I was cruel because I wrote a little introductory speech for each song and had a couple of students read them.  The Lily speech had lines like ‘This song was translated from the original German into a language with fewer articles’ and ‘It is appropriate to sing this song as this year it is a hundred years since the start of WWI and seventy-five years since the start of WWII so it is a good year for war buffs.’  I don’t think there’s anything cruel about those statements!

On the Friday after Mom and Dad arrived, it was Dassain so we got a holiday we spent going on a picnic with some of my students.  They treated us to a lovely day which included more Scottish Country Dancing but in a forest this time, renditions of Yellow Submarine and Frisbees getting turned into fashion accessories. 
I expect to see this on Milan catwalks tomorrow

Bold, daring designs by Namgay!

Dad with his adoring fans
Me with guilt-trippers.  I have to give them points for making me feel as miserable as possible about leaving!

Very quickly, I have to tell you about a terrifying experience that I had ages ago and forgot to blog about.  Often kids come and ask for help with their homework or studies or something.  This is normally code for ‘Can you help me with one math or English program and then can I look at your photos or watch a cartoon.’  Well, one day kids actually came to study while I was watching a David Attenborough documentary.  I just paused it and helped the kids with past participles or whatever it was they wanted help with and then one of them asked if they could watch the documentary.  I was thrilled to show it to them especially since it had a diplodocus and archaeopteryx in it.  Hopefully you’ve seen Alive which is the documentary where various creatures come alive in the Natural History Museum.  If you haven’t, I feel very sorry for you.  I can’t quite remember where I was up to, possibly the smilodon part, but after a little while one of the kids asked if I had any Barbie cartoons.  Barbie cartoons?! I had never been so insulted in my life.  Here was a documentary which had a giant pre-historic serpent and they wanted to watch a bottle-blond, anorexic freak talk about make-up or whatever she’s interested in.  I love my students very much and this is a totally unfair comparison but I did feel like it was a pearls before swine (which I would like to point out are super intelligent) moment.  I did show them a My Little Pony episode instead and if you think that My Little Pony:FiM is anything like Barbie then you are a seriously unenlightened individual and I feel sorry for you.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Divvies, I don't know if you read my blogs but DON"T read this one!!!

David, no reading!  Not until next year, anyway. 
The reason that David, who is my older brother, is not allowed to read this is partly because I’m an idiot who seriously underestimates things.  I’ve recently taught myself, and been taught by youtube, how to crochet and thought it would be fun to try and make everyone in my family something for christmas.  Well, the rest of my family may have to wait because making a little blankety thing out of tiny crocheted squares takes way longer than I thought. (To be fair, some time that I could have spent crocheting I may have spent playing computer games.  Thanks a lot Majora’s Mask!)
I have a dream that the blanket piece will one day be a huge quilt with Pit, Link, Samus, Mario and lots of chocobos.  If you don’t know who or what any of those are, I really do feel for you but you may be able to guess the medium from this:
It's the cutest black blob in the world!

Yep, months of toil have produced that and I personally think it looks adorable.  Of course, I always think that the Black Mage from Final Fantasy looks adorable but I just wish the piece was bigger.  Hopefully by the next Canberra winter, it will be big enough to keep Divvies at bit warmer. (Any Northern Hemisphere readers should remember that winter starts in June there and occasionally lasts for ten years)
Alexander (other brother, but not as in Coraline) will have to wait a bit longer for his crochet project which is unfortunate as he actually sent me a crochet book a few months ago but he will get a major project too!  I even know what it is but it’s way more complicated than David’s so maybe ten years to finish that one.
The other major project at the moment is teaching my year 6s Scottish Country Dancing.  A project made slightly more difficult by the fact that many still get right and left confused.  They like the slip step and most have setting down, but the skipping step still looks, well, if I say that some of my students look like young horses trying to run but haven’t figured out yet that they have to control all their limbs, will you understand that I say it with great affection for my students?  The most important thing is that they do seem to be having a lot of fun and the fact that they are dancing like they’ve had four whiskeys in quick succession just makes it more authentic.
The dance that mom and I chose is The Dashing White Sergeant which, as I’m sure you all know, is a reel.  I’ve started to teach the reel part which involves three dancers moving along a figure 8 and NOT constantly bumping into one another.  They all have the figure 8 part down, mostly because I drew giant 8s in chalk on the floor of the hall with helpful arrows and numbers. 
                                                      How anyone could fail to understand that is beyond me!                                                      (I would like to point out that this is the version I drew for the three kids who came over to learn it before I tried to teach the whole class.  The whole class version was slightly simpler.
 This naturally led to the students looking at their feet the whole time and running into one another but I have faith they’ll get it!  Even though they’re meant to perform it for my parents on the 1st of October and I haven’t yet tried to teach them the backwards skipping step.  But it’ll be fine, right? Right?!
Hugs to all, especially Sarah who is currently looking after T'eo! Hugs!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

One more award!

I forgot an award!  Dreadfully sorry and I hope you can forgive me.  To give some background details about this final award, for the year 6 exam, I gave them the poem Oliphaunt which has lines such ‘grey as a mouse, big as a house, nose like a snake’ and ‘flapping, big ears.’  I asked the students to tell me what name we give this animal.  I didn’t get any Calvinist (as in Calvin and Hobbes, not the religious guy) responses like ‘Frank’ but I did get a simply amazing one.  So the Gerald Durrell Award for Animal Recognition goes to the Year 6 student who told me that the animal with flapping big ears was a shark.  Well done and remind me to get you a child’s encyclopaedia of animals for your birthday.

No award for this one but I would now like to post a speech that another of my class 6s wrote.  Every morning we have a Dzongkha speaker and an English speaker.  Since most kids just copy their speeches from wherever, I worked hard with my classes so they would write their own.  This one was just so sweet that I feel I have to post it and I feel I should point out that I had no idea about the topic until I saw the first draft.  Fortunately, I was ill the day it was delivered or I would have been quite embarrassed.  I have left the grammar and spelling exactly as the student had it in her first draft.

Early to bad and early early to rise makes man healthy and wise.  Repected principal, Bice principal toD teacher and my brothers and sisters  Today I am (No, I’m not leaving her name in, but I like the implication that she changes who she is day to day) from class VIB we like speak on the Topic favourite teacher here I begin.

We all the students have our own favourite teacher.  So I as a student also have my own favourite teacher.  My favourite teacher is miss Arwen.  She is from Australia.  she has white complaction.  She likes to sailing when she was in Australia.  her ship name is Jarmes crack.  She have snake and Little Dragon as her pet.  The Little Dragon she called as Teo's and snake as Eve (I made sure Padraig was included in her second draft and even wrote his name out phonetically.  Poor Padraig wouldn’t want to be forgotten!).  She is Live in samdinkha near the archery ground.  she loves to reed Books and listening song, and she love animals.  she gave us candy and small sticker as a gift when we hold Top mark in class text.(Yes, I’ve resorted to bribery)
Solastly I would like to say I Love my miss Arwen as well as other teacher too.

Awwwww!  I’m just so proud that all my lessons on grammar and spelling seem to have, well, not done anything.  But at least they know about sailing and reptiles! (And no ‘little swot’ comments, please!)

Another wonderful thing that happened was that I finally achieved one of the greatest teacher clichés!  I often get given things by my students.  I’ve been given sag (spinach), chillies, passionfruit, guavas and pomegranates but earlier this week…
It didn't even have any worms in it!
… someone gave me an apple for teacher!  I’ll reassure mom by saying that I washed and peeled it before eating.

I shall begin this next anecdote by saying that all is well and my feet are completely dry.  Last Wednesday, I was making some well-deserved popcorn when my doorbell rang.  I assumed it would be students either asking for homework help or selling cheese.  It was students but they weren’t selling anything or asking me to do their homework for them.  Instead they both started talking extremely fast and incoherently.  I asked them to slow down (they were both year 5 students so I don’t teach either) and managed to hear, ‘Flag coming from Lunana. Gautem Sir already gone.’  I guessed that some holy artefact was being brought to Samdinkha and one of the teachers, Gautem Sir, had gone to meet it.  I didn’t see what that had to do with me and wanted to return to my popcorn.  I wondered if all the teachers were meant to meet the visiting lama.  The students seemed concerned that I wasn’t reacting to what they had said so they started off talking quickly at the same time and kept saying that a flag was coming.  I told them to slow down and asked one of them to clearly say what was coming.  Again one of them said ‘flag’ but added ‘big river.’  Ah, a flood.  Well, at least I finally understood.  I then spent about 2 minutes running round and shoving important things into my backpack.  These included my passport, Jerry, meds and Druklet.  Just the bare essentials.  I put on my boots, grabbed a bottle of water and headed out. 
The river was an amazing colour.  Imagine Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but sadly, I doubt it would have tasted very nice.  I hurried up the hill and stood with some of my students and their families watching the river and wondering what would happen.  How high was the river expected to rise?  Would we all head to the school and have a slumber party in the hall?  It was about then that I realised that I had forgotten my toothbrush.  After a little while, people started to return to Samdinkha and I decided that I’d risk it.  There is an alarm that is meant to go off if we’re really in danger and it hadn’t sounded so I thought I’d go back and pack my bag properly.  I made a pact with my neighbours that they’d tell me if they were heading out.  I’m pretty sure I could have squeezed into their car if it were an emergency.
Fortunately, the popcorn was fine so I enjoyed it while packing properly and letting my health buddy know that there was a potential situation.  I wasn’t panicking or even terribly worried but I have to admit, I slept in clothes that I wouldn’t mind climbing a hill in and didn’t sleep with my earplugs in.
In the morning, the river was back to its normal monsoon-grey and I found out that there had been a landslide which caused a little dam to form which eventually burst, raising the river and turning it Lindt 99% cocoa-brown.  I think some students were disappointed as they were hoping to get out of school.  I was ever-so-slightly relieved.  I do find it interesting, however, that if the apocalypse comes, it won’t be announced by horsemen but instead by two girls jabbering incoherently.

Hugs hugs!