Sunday, November 12, 2006

Free Time

Someone might ask, "Kati, what do you do with your free time?"
Well, besides traveling, I would say, "I search for games and activities that allow me and the kids to have fun at the same time." Last week we played people Foosball, where they had to stay on a line, playing soccer like they were the Foosball table. Last night we played human bowling, where I got to tape up the boys, right when I had almost had enough of them, and then we threw balls at them. Seeing them upset, having fun, hating you and loving you all in the same moment, that's one of the best parts about teaching. Last night was the second of three overnights that Jan and I are having with the youth from the church. Ah, the chaos. Well, I'm off to Prague for a meeting. I just thought you would like this picture.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Like many teachers at this time of year, I find myself asking, “How do I teach about Thanksgiving?” I want to give the students a good lesson in history, using simple English, teaching them new words, teaching about Thanksgiving, and giving them an accurate view of Native Americans/American Indians/ Native Peoples/ Cherokee, Seminole, etc.--pick your favorite expression. And yet, I find myself doing more and more research and racking my brain to decide what to do with all of the misconceptions. I’m reading article after article about the “truth” about Thanksgiving, and so I’ve had to ask myself,“What is important? What can I share? What does Thanksgiving mean to me?”

Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that I think it’s a symbol of cultures coming together to share customs, wisdom, resources and thanks. The Wampanoag Tribe of the Northeast had the knowledge of centuries of experience living in those lands, and they shared their wisdom with the new English visitors. “The Thanksgiving Feast” symbolized the victory of overcoming their differences, finding a common ground, and surviving. We remember this day frozen in time, looking through rose colored glasses, if you like. I will share with them what I know to be true about a few different Native American tribes. I will share images of American Culture as the Melting Pot/Tossed Salad of immigrants and native peoples looking for freedom. Finally I will share our customs practiced today as we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. My own celebration will be in this act of sharing culture and thanksgiving with my students.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The end of fall

Well, winter is finally here in the Czech Republic. Last night we had our first snow, and believe it or not it’s still snowing. I went to Prague for the last two weekends and both times I prepared for some cold winds, and ended up carrying my scarf and jacket. I thought to myself, “Madison, is having colder weather, and I survived there for the last three winters. I can take this.” Now we’ll see how many layers I have to wear under my new coat (this is the coat the friendly woman gave me in Switzerland if you remember from the post in September).

Speaking of Prague, I had a nice time getting a mix of American and Czech culture there. I looked at Czech art, visited Czech buildings, and ate American Food. It’s strange how visiting Prague feels like visiting a large city in the US. I think it’s because of the masses of cars, billboards, and American fast food chains. Oh, yeah, and everyone speaks English in Prague. It really is an amazing city. Being there and seeing the historic places, you realize the power it once had, and at the same time, in the smaller cities, you realize how much communism can destroy in such a short amount of time. I think it will be interesting to see what CZ looks like after 40 years of democracy.
Earlier this week we had our long awaited Halloween Party. I have posted pictures on the photo site (again, password policka) with descriptions of what we did. It was a little crazy, having so many kids of such a large variation of ages. There are many things I wish I had done differently, but the important part is that everyone had a great time. Maybe my favorite part was that someone donated a pumpkin for us to carve and use as a decoration! The first class of 6th-7th graders dug out the seeds, chose a design for the face, and then carved it themselves. I was so excited to share this experience with them. I’m so sorry I didn’t get any pictures of them carving, but I do have this picture of the pumpkin. You’ll see more about what we did in the pictures, so I won’t go on forever about the party, but I will say this. I owe a lot to Jan, Anna, and my mom and sister for helping me with the preparations and the party itself. My mom and sister sent me many things to share with the kids, and Jan and Anna helped in more ways that I can count. When I first thought of having the party I never dreamed how big it could get. It was a lesson in “Always plan for needing help.” I didn’t realize how much help I would need, and I should have asked for more helpers to commit to being there. I had expected Parents to come, and now I’m not sure why I thought that. For the next party, I plan to have plenty of people ready to help. I can’t do it alone, and I shouldn’t try to do it that way either.