raft

December 8, 2012

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student story reading 004
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I was supposed to start telling my classes that I won’t be here next semester. It was in my plans for the week. But somehow the departure speech stuck in my throat; instead I almost felt sheepish about how much fun I was having with the lessons. The day’s technology issues forced me to change my lessons anyway, so I was able to justify the switch to. But really, it was the most perfect sort of closure plan I could have made. I introduced it as a way to see if they’ve learned from the story-telling I’ve demonstrated for them over the semester. Splitting them into groups of 4, they were instructed to follow my example of reading each story in a way that would captivate a younger audience. Each story I was using came with appropriate velcro figures that you affix to an apron as you tell the tale. When I demonstrated the show, I wore the apron; but when the students took over, they just held up the apron like a screen. This was intended for practical purposes, considering the size of the apron compared with that of the children. It turned out to be a wise call for another reason, however: from the reactions of others who popped into the library, I realized that the sight of me in a large, picture-book-character-affixed apron was not exactly fashion forward. Apron-wearing would not, therefore, lend itself very well towards behavior control if I was asking the youngsters to don such attire. At any rate, the day passed in a flurry of bookish fun. And I didn’t feel bad about how much fun it was, either, since I feel rather strongly about the educational value of story-telling, insomuch as it promotes a mindset lifelong learners when young ones learn to appreciate story early on.
But underlying the fun was the weightiness of my own sadness at the thought of leaving. Why?, I find myself wondering. Leaving has always been easy for me–what is making this transition so difficult? Am I just getting old. and losing my sense of adventure? I still have a good bit of processing needed, I think, before I come to any sort of understanding about my current emotional state.
Those emotions bookended the business of the day. A beauty-soaked sunrise moment. An afternoon walk home in which I paused at the sight of the sun rays streaming through the grapevine leaves, with the striking border of a barbed-wire-topped compound wall.

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in a book

December 4, 2012

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Who knew? It turns out that the word “banana,” when spoken in the middle of a picture book, is an inordinately hilarious word. Or at least for the little ones in my library today it was. I found myself having difficulty maintaining my own composure in the middle of my performance-like reading, as I watched a roomful of 5-year-olds literally rolling on the floor as they laughed. I almost felt guilty for allowing such entertainment in the middle of a school day. Then I decided that I most certainly did not feel guilty about it, for several reasons.
For one, the students were repeating sounds after me as I read, and demonstrated, the words to them, which is, I believe, a very effective method for language learning [more so than rote recitations that lack context]. Secondly, I know that the education offered at this school is quite top-notch, and demanding; I am inclined to see my role, at least for the little ones, as one of building in them a desire to spend time in the library [i.e. making the time fun for them]. Finally, I’m afraid there are just too many ways in which life itself is pretty dark here, with school oftentimes being a bright spot of joy in the lives of the children. So I just don’t mind being a part of that brightness, if I can.
Along the lines of brightness, one patch of brightness for me, over the past year and a half, has been watching the sun rise and set from my rooftop spot of peace. This morning was no exception, with a particularly amazing melding of the white of the snow, the blue of the sky, and the pink of the clouds. Watching it, the tears that have begun to frequent my life started up again. I have grown to love this place, in spite of it all, and in spite of myself. How did that happen? More likely, it is not the place I grew to love. I fell in love with the people in my life here, and so now that love has expanded into a love of the place. Lord have mercy on me as I transition on from here. May that love overflow in me to make for a meaning-filled departure, and for a hope-filled new home.

home

December 2, 2012

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Tonight, as usual on Sunday evenings, I returned home late. This is sight that greeted me in my bedroom. And so, tonight, I cried me a river. Blessedness.