Sunday, February 18, 2007

Game Night/ Večer her

On Friday we had a game night in Czech and English. Our goal was to provide another place for good relationships to form and I was very pleased with the behavior of the kids and the kindness from the teenagers. I didn't anticipate this, but it turned out to be the perfect way to invite the younger students for an extra event in the church. In fact, we had such a good time, that we might just have another one next month. Check out my photos (password: policka) for a glimpse at the evening.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

When is Valentine's Day again?

It was so weird to be here during Valentine's day, and even more strange to try to teach about it. Different from when I taught about Halloween, I now feel this extreme conflict between sharing American culture and feeling like I'm forcing American holidays that were created by consumerism. I guess it's because of my experience in December, when so many people were adamant about keeping Santa Clause out of the Czech Republic.
I have always loved Valentine's Day, especially because I've never had a boyfriend on Valentine's day, so it's always been about sharing as much kindness as I can with as many people that I meet during the day, instead of sharing love with just one person. On Valentine's day you can show love to people that would normally give you a strange look if you were extra nice to them. However, I wasn't quite sure about how to use this in the classroom. As you know, anytime you use the word love in a class room with kids over the age of 7, they giggle and make jokes. So, instead of talking about "love" and Saint Valentine, we talked about giving compliments and giving help to others. With the older kids we passed around a page with our name and wrote nice things about each other. With the younger kids we read Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree" in Czech and English. AND STILL, some kids laughed at the idea of happiness coming from giving to others or saying nice things to each other.
Then one of the parents told me later, that her son really enjoyed the book, but he was afraid to show it because of the other kids. It made me think about how we, those who celebrate VDAY, are used to letting down our guard on Valentine's day. On this day we are used to being nice to people we don't like. I know kids everywhere are the same with hiding their feelings, but it seems to me, that giving valentines has always been a good opportunity to share the "Agape" type of love, without feeling it might be confused with the "Eros" type of love. Here in CZ, they don't show their emotions very much, let alone show the type of love that acts in the best interest of the other person, when many things in their society are about getting what they can for themselves. So, we'll keep talking about giving and being nice to others. Why should there be only one day out of the year to be show love to everyone? Really, everyday should be Valentine's day. So whenever you read this post, pretend like it's Valentine's day all over again, and see if it makes you act differently towards your neighbor. Post your comments, if you want.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Refreshed, Renewed, and Ready

Well, I'm sorry the last month has come and gone without many posts. Our spring break came early this year, and I have been enjoying the mountains of CZ. I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy the little bit of snow that we've had in the past few weeks, but the snow has almost disappeared now. So now I'm back, with a fresh mind and new ideas.
My first endeavor will be to start a participation competition with my students. Last term they had a passport and got stamps for coming to class. This term I want to try giving them points for coming to class and special events, and I have some special questions posted on our website that they can answer for more points. If you want to look at the website here is the address:
The site is half in English and half in Czech. I also would like to encourage you to comment on the questions if you like. I would ask that you only answer the first question, but after that you can write a note to the students to say hello. The logic questions will get harder, so if you don't know the answer, feel free to make some sort of joke. My goal is to encourage them to look at the website and communicate with each other as well as with our friends over seas.

I also want to point out a new addition to this site. You can now register for my email newsletter in the column to the right. I've been sending a newsletter once a month through the mail and email. The newsletter has more detailed descriptions of my experiences and projects. So, if you aren't on my mailing list and you would like to be, you can use the form on the right or email me your address.

There's a lot in store for this week. We're starting the new term of classes, we have a movie night on Wednesday, and then we will have a Game Night on Friday. I'm so excited to get back into the class room!