Tag Archives: education

Hope Through Action

Hello Again.

September is here and it is finally starting to cool off a bit in Sacramento!  While my issue with crazy hot weather has bothered me like a persistent fly this summer, it pales in comparison to what is happening in our world.  My heart goes out as I see devastation across our continent from raging fires to catastrophic hurricanes, to an 8+ earthquake.  Reading through the front section of the New York Times yesterday and today, it felt like the world was coming to an end.  Then, drop in the latest humanitarian focus on the Myanmar Rohingya, and the famine in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen was enough to make me want to cry and crawl under a blanket.  It felt beyond bleak.

But then I remembered what happened on Friday at my school.

I am piloting a year-long service learning project with my fifth graders this year. Our foci are the environment and hunger.  While I am bringing in quite a few speakers to help inspire my students over the course of this year, the first was a representative from the Climate Reality Project; this is Al Gore’s NGO that is working very hard to spread the belief that climate change is a reality and there are things each and every one of us can do to make a change – today.  Christine Flowers was our presenter and she spoke to about 90 third through fifth graders.  She used big concepts, but brought them down to a level that our curious young students could relate too.  We ended with a drawing project on how they could each make a change to help the planet.

My students returned to class jazzed to work on developing our plans to make a difference.

Then, last night, I had the great pleasure of attending a fundraising event for the Red Sweater Project.  Ashley Holmer is the founder of this amazing organization that is transforming education in rural Tanzania.  With only 27% of Tanzanian students passing the exam to graduate from high school across the country, the Mungere school started by the Red Sweater Project has a pass rate of 100%.  These kids are the rural poor with little chance for an education.  But because this young woman is dedicated to making a change, they now have a chance to make a change.

So, while the world is in upheaval and I find myself heavy and feeling stuck with where and how to help, I am determined to remember (and to not stand idle) that there is good in this world and good people working to make positive strides for a better, more supportive and caring world.

Here’s to action and hope!

Gretchen

 

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Filed under Climate Change, Education, Fifth Grade, Hunger

New Life, New School

Grand Opening is just three days away! The Yew Wah International Education School officially opens its doors to students on September 18.  But since the campus isn’t really ready for us to occupy it, we will be hosting an activity camp at the Sheraton resort just down the road for the first two days.  Here is a rendering of what the school will look like when completed:

YWIES DrawingOnly 6 of those buildings are in progress, but phase II starts this fall.  Eventually this school will have 2000 students from K – 12.  The tall buildings in the back (right) will be staff accommodations and student housing.  This year we are starting with 150 students from K – 10.  My classes have the following numbers of students:

6th: 25
7th: 9
8th: 4
9th: 9
10th: 10

So the challenge will be how to best teach such small groups.  I’m used to 30 in a class.

We still have not been able to get into our classrooms and we are all anxious to get started.  It has been a long month working out of a conference room.  There have been many hiccups, last minute changes, complete gaffs etc.  But I am so happy to say that this new staff has taken everything in stride.  Yes, we are sick of the conference room.  Yes, we are sick of sitting and not teaching.  But, we know each other really well now.  🙂

I have planned my first three units for each class and created the daily lessons for the first unit for each class.  I’m feeling well prepared on my end.  I have purposefully not gone any further as I do not know the level of students I am getting.  I don’t know their English level, nor if they have had any humanities or geography.  So the first week will be very much centered around understanding the knowledge and skill base the kids are starting the year with.

On Friday a few of us went shopping for items for our classrooms.  We had placed our requests the week before and someone was to have scouted out where we could find our items.  Then we were told we would go to two or three stores, check the products and make orders.  The gals would then pay for them and they would arrive at the school by Monday (tomorrow).

Instead, we jumped off the van in old town Huadu and spent three sticky and exhausting hours trying to find anything that might work in the dust filled piles of warehouse type shops.

Shopping Collage

Photos taken with my iPhone 4s

Needless to say there was very little for humanities.  I did find one, very dusty globe in a stationary store.  So I have resorted to ordering online and crossing my fingers that my atlases etc. arrive before Monday, September 22 – the day we really start school.

Tomorrow we start rehearsing, at the school, the opening day celebrations.  At least we get to be on campus.

Besides school preparations, I have been riding my bike around town.  Cruised around Huadu lake.  It is quite huge and full of statues and leisure stations (snack bars).

Huadu Lake 2 Huadu Lake Sun Statue

I have now ventured via the train, into Guangzhou.  It took us an hour to get there.  But the trains are really clean and efficient  and thankfully air conditioned.

There is construction going on everywhere.  Huge buildings with at least 50 stories.

TV Tower & Dwntown

The pointed building in the distance is the TV tower that lights up in lots of colors at night.

 

Street Music Man Metro Map

 

The days are flying by.  I am really excited to meet my students.  And I am excited about my crazy classes.  I had to align the Chinese national curriculum with the national curriculum of the UK.  There was a basic outline for what the Chinese felt I should cover.  Other than that, it was up to me to cover all the required standards and create classes that made some sort of sense.

So here is what I created – don’t laugh or groan.  I know they don’t seem to flow, but it was hard to get everything required into these classes.

Units Y6 - Y10

EOTC stands for Education Outside the Classroom.  We’ll be heading to a village community and doing a community project.  In Y6 Ancient Civilization was given only 3 weeks in the Chinese curriculum.  I gave it 14 weeks.  Its going to be challenging to cover everything, but the projects they’ll be working on will hopefully lend to broader understanding.

It continues to be super hot and sticky here.  I almost stepped on this guy as I was walking through the forest part of our apartment complex.  He was about 5 inches long and moving fast!

 

Slug

 

I ventured back into RT Mart.  This time, 9am on a Saturday morning.  This is definitely the preferred time to shop, for me that is.  Easy and relaxed.  I had a chuckle when I came across an aisle dedicated to instant noodles.

Instant Noodle Aisle

But then I headed over to my wonderful covered, outdoor market.  Such happy, smiling people.  They love teaching me how to say the numbers (ie. cost of items).  Although hot and sticky, so much more enjoyable.

Market

Crabs

Crabs! Some were still twitching.

So another week has flown by.  I am so excited for what is about to begin.  I promise to take loads of photos.  We have been warned against posting any photos of our students, so I will try to capture the essence of the events without exposing the kids.

Also, sorry about the lack of quality of the photos, in this post all have been taken with my iPhone 4s.  The ones of Huadu Lake were as I was pedaling along.

Have a great week!

Gretchen

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Filed under China, Education, Guangzhou, Huadu, Humanities, Uncategorized

Turn a Corner and Out Pops Art

The other day I was jauntily motoring around the city looking for the place that I had purchased my motorbike so that I could get my free oil change.  Not completely sure where it was, I was taking a few turns here and there looking for familiar signs.  I love doing this to be honest.  I like to explore.  It is so much fun.

Well I turned down a street that had an enticing bend in the road ahead and, although I knew it was the wrong way, I just couldn’t resist the bend.  And I was fully rewarded for my risk taking (ok, there was no risk what-so-ever, but doesn’t it sound more exciting?).

As I turned the bend I came upon the craziest building I had seen in Mandalay.

Artist - Dreamland Art Studio 1The cement sculptures on the rooftop and entryway were zany and fun, very liberal in there expression and full of, at least my interpretation, happiness and zeal.  I had to stop and check this place out.

Artist - Dreamland Art Studio 2To my great pleasure I learned that it is an art studio, Dreamland Art Studio, that offers classes in music and many forms of painting and drawing.

I walked in and found a gal that speaks great English and said, although they had just finished a semester of classes, that I could take a look around and share with you all some of the art on the walls.

Art - DAS - Collage of Paintings copy I just love the unique perspectives, colors, mediums…  I’m definitely going to look into taking classes in September when they open up again.

It is so fun to explore.  I love discovering hidden treasures.

Have a creative week!

Check out Dreamland Art Studio on Facebook (for some reason my link button won’t work – so here is the URL:  Dreamland Art Studio (https://www.facebook.com/DreamlandArtStudio?fref=ts).

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Filed under Crafts, Design, Photography, Super Creative

The Land of Golden Pagodas

I’m headed out for a new adventure.  You may be thinking, ah she’s headed to Mexico.  But this is not the case.  Although I hope to get down there late next year, I’m headed in a more eastward direction with a whole lot of miles and ocean in between.

I’m going to Myanmar!  A Buddhist country full of golden pagodas and palaces, lush rainforest, exotic spices and foods and beautiful, soft, gentle people.

I am going to teach:  little people excited and wiggly, sponges of curiosity.

It has happened quickly (signed the contract yesterday, bought my air ticket last night) and now I leave on May 9th!  Only 22 days until departure.  I’ll be living in the vibrant city of Mandalay come Saturday, May 11th.

Thanks to a huge support of friends and family I am able to sub-let my duplex (thus saving me all the massive packing and moving I was going to have to do), my wonderful new sub-letter is going to take care of my precious cats and I am off to teach, explore, and breath once again.  My heart and head need this.

I will be posting stories and photos on this site about my adventures over the next year. I hope you’ll enjoy, comment and engage.

I’m looking forward to a wonderful experience in a place I have yet to explore.   Gretchen

weeklyintercept.blogspot.com

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Filed under Adventure, Education