January 31, 2012

Art is inherently messy. Elementary art is messier. Elementary art when you have no running water is messier still. Knowing all this, I chose to have the Grade 1 students use chalk pastels this morning even so. I had done this project the day before as well, so at least today knew what to expect. Yes, it was messy. But messily worthwhile :-)

whale songs

January 26, 2012

It lasted all of 30 minutes, making it probably the shortest time commitment of my workday. But it was probably the highlight for me as well: having morning assembly for primary grades meant that I got to be goofy with the whole bunch, having them practice living the life of a humpback whale, so far as its songs go. And yes, there was educational value in the whole event as well, tying things into the theme of “enthusiasm” . . . but I was pretty sure that the sheer fun-ness of it was valuable in itself :-)

in flight . . . and out

January 24, 2012

After one of my classes had finished their art exam, I told them that, as promised, we could take their last works out for “test runs.” They have just completed a glider design and construction project, so today we took them out to the runway to see if they would fly. Unfortunately, the first flight of one of the gliders involved a rather destructive crash. Surveying the damage, I explained that I had to take photos so we could submit proper insurance claims . . .

pipe dreams

January 22, 2012

It’s been one of those days [or weeks, more accurately] when each baby step I manage to take forward seems counteracted by a gust of the elements that lands me 10 steps back. Between the mountain of schoolwork that grows on my to-do list, the harshness of the winds that blow and the snow that falls, and the logistical hardships of failing practicalities [the luxury of running water dying a frozen-piped death, for instance], I just can’t seem to give myself enough attitude-checks to stay positive.
So when I spied this abandoned work station one roof over from my own, it was comforting in a paradoxical sort of way. A project had begun here, with red pail and water bottle, and then been left to summon me and my camera for a closer glimpse at the gleaming color amidst our wintery hues. I imagined that the harsh winds and coming snow had thrown a worker off the intended task. Maybe not. But the idea gives me comfort when my own daily tasks grow daunting. Today, the brilliance of this bucket symbolizes the hope that all is not lost. That I shall get done the things that need to get done. That I shall not be too quick-tempered when students try my patience. That I shall be able to impart something worthwhile with the moments that fill the schooldays . . . that Spring shall come before Winter conquers us.

those who mourn

January 20, 2012

For today’s “Funday School,” we were once again studying Esther, and continuing with the beatitudes. This being the 2nd week, we moved on to learn “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” I spoke of Mordecai’s time of mourning and fasting, and told the children that God wants us to bring our mourning to him: that it’s ok to be sad. And that He promises to comfort us. Then I asked the to draw a picture, or write a few words, illustrating a time when they were mourning. I gave them a few minutes to think about it, then walked around to see their progress. Thinking it might help if I gave them an example from my own life, I told them that when I was their age, I was very sad for quite some time–mourning because my Dad had died. I also added the fact that their own examples could be anything, that it didn’t have to be as big as death in order to be important. Then I noticed one little girl writing a phrase on her own paper that said, simply, When my Dad died. For a moment I was confused, wondering if she had misunderstood. Then I realized that this was actually one of the 2 little girls who just lost their father. The family had been in this country for only a few months when he died in one of the city attacks last month. I gulped back tears as I carried on with the lesson, and prayed with the children. Giving thanks, silently, for the words I had been prompted to speak.

ice princess

January 18, 2012

At the end of this day [and week], it felt like about 10 weeks had been packed into one. But in large part, I think this is more due to the battles involved in daily life [weather, security, communal life, and the like] than due to simple work/school day issues. So as we chatted about the day over dinner, one veteran here commented that there is talk, judging from the trend so far in temperatures, snow, and ice, that this will be a winter to rival winter–even here in the land known for its extremes. Lord have mercy, I thought. Me, in an extreme winter? It is stunning, for sure . . . but I so wish that I was only seeing it, not feeling it!

today’s peak

January 16, 2012

It was still far too cold to actually hold class outside today. But not so cold as to keep me from climbing a balcony railing in order to get a good vantage point for this shot of those “snow white” peaks.

snow white

January 15, 2012

It was so “balmy” today, I decided to move my art classes outside. Ok, so maybe not quite. Last night’s heavy snow fall did, however, make the outside temperature significantly more pleasant than it has been recently, It also lifted many a gray spirit around campus, I think, with the all around whitening, and brightening. Considering the temperature norms inside classrooms here, though, perhaps I should hold class outside tomorrow after all . . .


January 13, 2012

For today’s “Funday School” lesson, we were studying Esther, along with the First Beatitude. As our activity, I used butcher paper to make a giant crown, and had each child draw a “jewel” on the crown, in which they were to write something they didn’t understand in life. I explained that God is making a beautiful crown out of each of our lives, and the hard things–the things we don’t understand–are all going to be shining jewels on that crown, someday.
When I had the kids share their jewels, if they wanted to, a little one raised his hand patiently for some time, as the others shared. Finally, I saw and called on him. “You want to share something?” I asked. He nodded. “I don’t understand why the Canada transport companies have people working there who are always so mean,” he deliberately, and emphatically, contributed. It took me a bit to recover from my confusion but I did, and I agreed with him that I too do not understand this :-) Turns out he is new in the country, two weeks in from Canada. It was a happy moment for me, one in which I was reminded to enjoy the little amusements in a life that is often a trying, and draining one.
And the photo is another: a shot of one of the super teachers here as she labors to create as cheery of a space as possible for the little ones who will start a new week with her tomorrow. We do what we can here. And what we can do is–has to be–enough.

toes on toshaks

January 11, 2012

And when all is said and done, when the day–the week–ends, and we reach our weekend, we breathe a communal sigh of relief. And we wonder if it was all so hard after all? I mean, here we are together; we are in a warm room, wearing cute warm socks and slippers. Our toes are happily propped up on toshaks, and we have time to spare . . . yep, here in this part of the world, as elsewhere, Wednesday [i.e. Friday] night is most definitely a very good night of the week :-)