Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chants, Games, and Songs

I usually spend some time in the morning playing with the younger students and I have learned quite a few different hand games, chants, and songs.

First there is "My Mother/Your Mother". This is one of those clapping hand chants that we all remember from elementary school and goes like this:

My mother your mother live across the street
Eighteen nineteen blueberry street
If there was a fight, this is what they'd say
Boys are rotten made out of cotton
Girls are handy made out of candy
Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider
Girls go to college to get more knowledge
Boys drink rum to get more dumb
Girls drink Pepsi to get more sexy
Ipsy dipsy do, ipsy dipsy da
Ipsy dipsy do, say "I love YOU!"

Then there is "Mama Mama can't you see..."
another hand game:

Mama Mama can't you see
What the baby has done to me
She took away my MP3
Now I'm watching "Barney"
"Barney" is for babies
Tic tac toe three in a row
If you stop I'll give you a pluck 
(and then the clapping pattern continues until one person stops)

The two games we play the most are "Simon Says" and "There's a Brown Girl in the Ring". I hope that most people in the States can grasp the concept of "Simon Says"... if you should probably consult anyone else in the country to explain it to you. "

There's a Brown Girl in the Ring" is specific to St. Lucia as far as I know so I'll explain it. First, The students make a large circle in the courtyard of the school, one girl/boy is chosen to be in the middle. The student in the circle skips around ring as everyone sings:

There's a brown girl in the ring tra la la la la (x3)
'Cause she likes sugar and I like tea.
(During this verse a student skips around the ring)

Now show me a motion tra la la la la (x 3)
'Cause she likes sugar and I like tea.
(During this verse the student does a dance move and the other students around the ring imitate it.)

Now hop and pick a partner tra la la la la (x3)
'Cause she likes sugar and I like tea.
(During this verse the student hops around until he/she finds someone to replace them in the center.)

This game is particularly entertaining for me because the students love to pick me as their partner but whenever I am in the ring they stumble on what to sing because there is not a brown girl in the ring but a white girl... they are quick to correct themselves, but it is still funny, and the song sounds even sillier with the lyrics "There's a white woman in the ring" so I always get a little laugh.

All of the students love to sing! The Grade Six classroom is right next to the music room so we are blessed/cursed with being able to hear all the music classes throughout the week. The song we hear most frequently is "I Hope You Dance" but Lee Ann Womack. All of the students and teachers love this song, luckily so do I! They also sing a couple of my favorite songs from my Camp WOW days which always make me smile.

The last song I'm going to share is their birthday song. I love it so much! The lyrics are just better and more meaningful and the tune is way more interesting!

Happy Birthday to you                                           Happy Birthday to you
This is your day                                                      You are so young
Always there for you                                              Age is just a number
We're gonna love you in every way                        Don't you stop having fun
This is your day, your day                                      This is your day, your day
Happy birthday to you, to you.                               Happy birthday, happy birthday to you!

Greatest side note ever! In searching for the lyrics to the school's birthday song I've discovered that it was recorded by New Kids on the Block. I am so happy right now. I even found it on youtube for you all! Keep in mind that although the lyrics are the same the tune is slightly different here (more upbeat) and they only use the first two verses.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving. They don't celebrate Thanksgiving in St. Lucia but that isn't going to stop me from writing a super sappy post about how grateful and blessed I am.

I am thankful for so much. I have been blessed with an amazing opportunity to be here in St. Lucia experiencing new things and learning more about myself everyday. More than that I have parents and family that have been nothing but supportive and helpful. My sister is always kind of a pain in the neck but we've grown up and grown closer and I am blessed to have her in my life. And of course my wonderful friends, friends that have always been there for me. 

This week I got the chance to make a couple phone calls home. I was so happy to hear from the people I love but I also realized how much I missed people and home. I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday!

Lastly, I am so grateful that I have wireless at my home here! I have been able to keep in contact with everyone that I love and even snap a couple of screenshots... 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

So Many Pictures!!

My time in St. Lucia is about half over already! 

I remember reading friend blogs and just always wanting to see more of what they were experiencing. 

So here are a bunch of random pictures from the last month. There are a couple scenery pictures, some from Creole Day, and a lot of students (I've mentioned before how much they love having their pictures taken). 

If you haven't figured it out already the best way to view pictures on this blog is to click one, then you are able to view them larger and navigate through all of them with ease. 

Anyway... Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My New Best Friend...

So much rain, even more noise.
... is my blue polka-dotted umbrella.

It has been raining like crazy this week. The rain here is different. It kind of just starts without any warning, most of the time it rains for like 5 minutes and then stops just as suddenly. The sun remains out and usually the rain is pretty hard to see because it is so light...

On Monday it rained all day, and this rain was uncharacteristically dense. Teacher friends, I'm going to tell you right now that you have not had to use a teaching voice until you've had to teach all day in a classroom with a tin roof while it pours outside. Not to mention that you have to keep the windows and doors open so that you don't roast in your classroom. It is impossibly loud and difficult to make sure you're being heard and more importantly understood over all that noise. This weather persisted throughout most of the week but gradually let up.

The Winners!
On Friday Monchy had their annual road race. Students in Grades 3-6 paid a dollar to participate in a type of marathon on the roads around the school. In the school's physical education program there are four different houses; Sunflower (yellow), Marguerite (blue), Hibiscus (red), and Lily (green). Each student is assigned a house for the duration of their time at the school (kind of like in Harry Potter, but it's only for gym class and as far as I know Monchy doesn't use a hat to sort the students). Then the houses compete against each other in different activities, like the annual road race. 60 medals and 6 trophies were given to the first 30 boys and the first 30 girls to complete the race. Then the house that won the marathon is announced, a house wins the marathon by having the more individuals from that house complete the race than the other houses. So if Sunflower had the most student complete the race they would win, even if Lily had won all of the medal and trophies... it's actually a pretty logical system even if I'm doing an inadequate job of explaining it.
Jenai crossing the finish!

Anyway.... the students started at the school and ran up the road a ways and then turned around and ran back. There were multiple water stations along the route that the teachers worked with students that weren't running. I was assigned to the half way point station. My main job was recording the numbers of the students that ran past so that we knew all of the students had run the entire distance. Cheating is a big concern here in academics and athletics. The culture encourages competition, and with competition comes cheating. Fortunately I didn't hear about any cheaters on Friday so I'm assuming everyone ran a clean, fair race.

Just finished the race, exhausted
Because I was at the half way point my job was done before the race was over so I got the chance to head back to the school and cheer some students across the finish line. My favorite moment of the day was seeing Jenai finish. Jenai is a grade four girl and is confined to a wheelchair. She is not in my class, so I don't know her that well but she is awesome. Jenai ran the entire race and didn't even finish last! She had a couple different people help push her along the way but I know that she also did a lot of the work herself. She made a point of crossing the finish line without any assistance. As she rolled up to the finish all of the students and teachers started to cheer for her and I could just feel the pride radiating through the crowd for her. It was awesome.

One of my favorite pictures so far
The race took maybe two hours to wrap up, but the students didn't have class for the rest of the day so there was a lot of down time. I personally was confused and frustrated because I know that I could have been using that time to teach or do something productive and organized with students but instead the entire day of classes was cancelled for a relatively short activity. I suppose that is just a difference between St. Lucia and the States though... nothing I can do to change it.

They love my red sunglasses
Right now I am sitting at a cafe in town and having my first cup of coffee in a month. I am so happy right now. I even pulled a super hipster move and took a picture of my coffee, that is how excited I am about it. Plus, Taylor Swift is playing on the radio. This is shaping up to be an exceptional day.

I almost forgot! In grammar this week we learned about conjunctions... guess what I used to teach the lesson? If you guessed Schoolhouse Rock,  Conjunction Junction you are correct! We watched it at least 6 times in class plus all of the times I watched it to prepare the lesson. Needless to say it has been stuck in my head all week. In case you forgot how it goes, I'll leave this clip here for you... 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Food Food Food!

As the title suggests... This post will be all about food. So, here is another list, this time of the different/new foods I've tried since being here. Not all of them are specific to St. Lucia, but there are still some tidbits of information/experiences that I'm going to share... more so that I remember I suppose, but if you're reading this then I assume you might be interested as well...

Bread -- My host mom bakes her own bread. It is so much better than store bought bread. I usually take a couple of slices with some cheese for lunch at school.

Grapefruit -- Although I used to dislike grapefruit it's been growing on me here. I sometimes have half a grapefruit for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Oranges -- Taste the same, but they're green not orange!

Bananas -- They are ten times better here. I go through like 10 a week. I usually have one for breakfast, bring another to school, and sometimes eat one in the afternoon.

Soda -- About once a week I treat myself to a soda either Coke or Sprite. These are a treat because they are nice and cold, very refreshing in such hot weather. The difference is that the soda here has a lot more sugar. It's very very sweet, which changes the flavor ever so slightly.

Juice -- There is so much juice here!! I am in love! Each day I get home from school and have a nice cold glass of whatever juice is in the fridge that day. Each juice is made fresh. My host mom juices the different fruits and adds different amounts of sugar and water herself. I've had pineapple juice, golden apple juice, grapefruit juice, passion fruit juice, and lime juice. So far I think lime juice is my favorite. My host mom said that it lime juice, sugar, and banana extract. I am definitely trying to make it when I get back.

Fried Plantains -- Best. Thing. Ever. Fried plantains, are... plantains (kind of like bananas, but not) that have been fried. They are very sweet and have a caramelized taste too. I like them warm, but they good cold too... I mean, as I've said they're delicious no matter how you eat them.

Conch -- On Friday I went to a fish fry type deal with some friends and tried conch (as in conch shells) for the first time. They catch them fresh and grill them with what I think was butter, garlic, and maybe a couple other spices? It was pretty good, a bit rubbery, and the skin was particularly difficult to chew, but I liked it.

Golden Apples -- There is a fruit here called a golden apple. When it's ripe it is fantastic to just eat raw and fresh. You peel the skin and then sink your teeth into the juicy, almost sour core. The center seed is spikey and is easily caught between your teeth so you have to be careful to eat around it. Before the golden apple gets too ripe St. Lucians also pick them, peel them, and then make a juice out of them. It is actually the first thing I had to drink here and the juice is just so perfectly refreshing, I can't even describe it.

As delicious as the food is here I'm starting to miss the freedom and choice of doing my own shopping and cooking back home. At the moment I'm missing baked goods and surprisingly my go to meal of chicken breast, noodles, butter, and cheese more than anything,. I might cave one of these days and hit up one of the many American fast food chains on the island, but I'm putting that off as long as possible. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

All Kinds of Differences

So far St. Lucia hasn't been terribly different than life in the states. I haven't experienced any drastic culture shock or anything like that but I have noticed some differences:

This is the view from outside the Grade Six classroom
1. Driving -- I hadn't really thought about it but they drive on the opposite side of the road here, which makes sense but also throws me for a loop sometimes. I'm getting used to it almost to the point that driving on the "right" side of the road will come as a shock when I get back.

2. Use of Car Horns -- Although related to driving this deserves it's own place on the list. The streets here are noisy! Drivers use their horns for everything; they honk to say hello to pedestrians, to say thank you to another driver, to say you're welcome to another driver, to alert drivers and pedestrians that they are coming around a particularly sharp turn, and occasionally out of frustration or anger. It's been weird, but nice, to hear so many happy honks on the road.

3. Roads -- Living in the Midwest has meant a lot of long, straight roads driving wise for me. This is not the case here. The terrain of the island is very mountainous, which accounts for beautiful landscapes and scenery but also some treacherous driving. The roads here turn and curve up and down the various mountains and around the different obstacles so that passengers are constantly being tossed from side to side and even jolted forward or back. My bus rides to school can sometimes feel like a carnival ride!

As I said, it's beautiful here!
(This is turning out to be a lot of information about driving... not my original intention, allow me to expand past roadways...)

4. Electrical outlets -- Obviously the outlets here are different, but each outlet also has a switch next to it. Thanks to Mr. Dave Mielke I have often been reminded of how appliances and chargers still drain power from outlets when they are plugged in, even if they are not being used. Here each outlet has a switch next to it; when you are not using the outlet/whatever is plugged into the outlet you can flip the switch to off and it no longer drains electricity. I am personally impressed with this idea; I think it is a great way to conserve energy.

5. Daylights Savings Time -- I always assumed that Daylights Savings Time was an international practice. It is not. It surprised me, but hasn't phased me too much. It has been an adjustment to be two hours ahead of the US where before I was only one hour ahead.

That's all for now, I'm sure I will continue to discover differences and learn more about St. Lucia but I will leave you with some pictures from my week here.

This week I pulled out my camera during break time and while I was trying to catch some candid images of students as soon as they see a camera they flock to it! Everyone wants to pose for pictures and take them....

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2 Weeks in and Getting Comfortable

Now that I've been here for 2 weeks (oh my goodness! it's going so fast!!) I'm starting to form some routines and am feeling comfortable here.

The Monchy schoolyard has a beautiful tree with pink flowers.
I usually wake up around 6:30 am, get ready for the day and then catch my two buses to Monchy. I get to school around 8:15 and spend some time with the students playing or going over lesson plans for the day and then school starts around 9:00.

At Monchy the school day starts with an all school assembly where the students pray and a different teacher gives a short talk about important events and/or announcements for that day. Then Grade 6 has English for about an hour and a half. After the first class of the day the school has a break that lasts about half an hour where students usually run around and play for a bit and grab a snack. After morning break Grade 6 has Maths (yes, they call it maths or mathematics) and then another hour break for lunch. After lunch the students have 2 different classes. The subjects of these classes change depending on the day of the week but include Health Science, Social Studies, General Science, Music, Study Skills, P.E., French, and Arts and Crafts.

This week I started teaching. The first subjects I've taken over are English and Health Science. I had a lot of fun planning for this week, although Health Science was a challenge (I haven't study Health since I was in middle school myself).
There is a carpet of pink petals under the tree that the students love to play in.

Thursday and Friday of this week the other Grade 6 teachers were at a conference all day... I didn't know this until Thursday morning, so I was tasked with taking over all 4 classes for both days with no preparation. It was scary for a bit, and I was nervous about teaching the subjects I wasn't prepared for (especially Math) but everything worked out well.

They weren't the best lessons I've ever taught but I got though each day and each subject without too much trouble. The biggest problem was Friday afternoon; the students had a lot of energy and were obviously excited for the weekend and that translated into poor behavior from most of them. There was disrespect for me and for their classmates and I felt like I was losing control of the classroom. I ended up having to put my strict teacher face on. I had the class write a 3 paragraph essay about how they should act in class, how they should treat their classmates, and why they had trouble doing those things that day (shout out to Crupi, totally stole your idea). The class seemed very receptive and apologized to me profusely. Hopefully they will do better on Monday... I'm pretty sure they will.