Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, and since I have high-speed internet for the week, I'll save the more thought-provoking posts for the rest of the month when school is out and I have loads of time. (Joking, it's actually going to be busier once school's out!)
1. I'm at the end of our mid-service conference right now, and this video is the outcome of training in the first half of it. (HUGE accomplishment if you are aware of my techie dumbness.) Technically, it's not a video. It's a digital story. Whoa. Ideally, we'd like to be able to share this video on a community basis as an encouragement for parents to be involved in their child's education at home.
2. Among other things, one of my favorite community activities is to rope neighbor children into informal learning environments. Recently, this sibling pair (ages 6 and 4) helped me build a fully-functioning solar oven. Yes, I let a 4-year-old spray paint. And it went well!
We baked muffin bread in it. Twice.
3. I had my first (and second) visitor! My oldest friend came to visit for a whole 10 days, and it was complete bliss! In her first overseas trip she got off the plane (of at least 13-17 hours of international travel) and hopped right onto public transportation for another 2-3 hours. Not many people can do that. We enjoyed time with volunteers as well as time at my school and in my community. It has been a real blessing to have someone from home know exactly what life is like here.
4. My little corner of a classroom continues to be a safe haven and learning center for the students who enter. Not that any teacher ever has any favorites, but working with my at-level and above-level students is definitely a highlight of each week (every other day, in fact). We just finished reading The BFG by Roald Dahl (many thanks to dad for the set of novels!). In a culminating activity, the students made Fandango-style puppets of the main characters and acted out a short show to their classmates. Having this group has provided a tremendous opportunity for me to model to the other teachers new and creative ways to promote literacy through nontraditional methods.
5. I celebrated another birthday. Birthdays aren't necessarily big productions in my family, but they are certainly very special, important days. This isn't the first one I've celebrated away from "home," but it has never been easy to do so. Most people would think that having a cavity filled and sitting in a 3-hour meeting would be the last things they want to do on their birthday, but it meant seeing other volunteers and not being lonely in this case! Our thoughtful in-country staff surprised our meeting with celebratory cupcakes, and the family I spent the night with surprised me again with a birthday cake. It was truly meaningful, and I felt very loved.
6. I got a bicycle. After 13 months, 2 approval forms, and almost a month of looking for "just the right one," I finally got it. A special thank you to it's sponsors: you know who you are. What I didn't realize is how instrumental it has been to even further my community integration. Since it came in a box, I needed tools to assemble a few parts and tighten the rest.
A student and his neighbor walked about 15 minutes on Sunday to help me out.
I paid them in thank-you's, cold water, and cake.
And a chance to test ride.
According to them, it's a sick bike. Like, way cool.
The next day I went riding with another neighbor boy up the hill even further to the edge that overlooks the north coast. Not only was the view breathtaking, but there's a tourist attraction with a swimming pool at the top! I met the caretaker, and was assured multiple times that I'm welcome back whenever and with whoever I want. To say that this new discovery could be life-changing would be an understatement. We'll see what August holds...I could be MIA as I'm cruising around on a bicycle and swimming laps and teaching swimming lessons in the neighborhood pool.