Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Missions of San Antonio

I spent Thanksgiving weekend in San Antonio with Mom&Dad and Reece&Caitlin. Aside from touring the Alamo, which was really really cool, (one of my childhood heros was Davy Crockett), we toured the Spanish missions. There are five missions in San Antonio and each is very different and very beautiful. They were originally walled cities more or less that the Spanish missionaries set up to convert the Indians of Mexico/Texas. We toured the missions close to sunset so the lighting was ethereal and gorgeous.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This is One Place I Never Thought

I would find myself. Teaching and loving these cute kids, my ESL, or English Second Language students. I just lost one student who was sent back to Mexico, but I still have four students from Mexico, and one little political refugee from Burma. What an adventure!

It's been amazing to me to watch these kids try so hard. I know there is a lot of prejudice against kids like this, even in my own high school; people wondering why they are here, ruining America, but I see things differently.

Most of these kids are not here of their own choice, their parents smuggled them into America. They don't hardly know enough English to pass their classes; one girl is in my regular English class as well as my ESL class, and it has opened my eyes to how little they are understanding in their regular education classes. Of course they don't get good grades or turn in all of their homework, they don't understand 1/2 to 3/4 of what their teachers are saying! And isn't education what is best for these kids? What better benefit for our society than to have these kids learn how to speak Engish and to become educated?

I'm proud of these kids for trying to learn English. What a task. I think they are brave to stay in school and graduate. Many of them have hard homes, babies of their own at home even, and just all sorts of problems they didn't ask for. My student from Burma only gets to talk to her mom once a month, and comes from a community where there is no running water and they lit their house with candles. Can you imagine the culture shock coming to America?

Gaining their trust has been interesting, speaking to them in my little bits of broken Spanish (thank you again, high school Spanish!) has been interesting, and teaching very basic English has been interesting. What an adventure, but isn't that what makes life interesting?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Universality of Oprah

I was teaching my ESL students about adjectives this week and as an alternative assessment gave them a big stack of magazines and had them cut out a picture they wanted to write 10 sentences about / describe using adjectives. All of my Hispanic students chose rock stars like Beyonce and Rhianna; the boy chose a red sports car. My little girl from Burma chose Oprah.

She has no idea who Oprah is, but out of all the people she could have chosen to cut out - she chose her. She described her as beautiful with a pretty smile and nice eyes and fancy clothes and get this, she looks very kind and very nice and someone you could trust. Hmmm, so something about Oprah makes her look nice and smart and that is aside from her reputation. Interesting, is one of the reasons that Oprah has a large following everywhere is that she looks nice? So that my little student who just recently left a country where her family was so poor they lit their house with candles -- trusts her? Curious.

It was interesting to me as well when I was in Morocco earlier this year and we ate in the home of our friend Hicham, his mom was an avid Oprah watcher - translated into Arab! She was also an avid watcher of Judge Judy, but that's another story.