Tag Archives: education

The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

They say when things get tough, that’s when you see people’s true colors.

In each of my trials, I’ve been shown the “true colors” of my friends.  I’m lucky to have so many good friends.  I appreciate all the calls, messages, shows of support, and offers to hang out now that I’m stateside again.  And, I truly appreciate my online friends as much as my in-person friends. 

Blog of many colors

Right now I’m coming to grips with how this atrocity even happened.  I was handling all that Mother Nature was dishing out; no electricity, no running water, violent storms, horrendous heat, Typhoid Fever, with a fair amount of grace I think.  And then without warning, at the end of my weakest state, John Goosen went on an unprovoked ape-shit rampage and decided to fling me around like a rag doll to make me listen to his drunken rant.

Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  That’s normal.  I write more on my good days, but lately it’s writing about my bad days.  That’s also normal.

I value being able to read through other blogs to see the uplifting and helpful information out there.  Feeling like there is a community of people who understand the process I am going through is so wonderful.  Sometimes it can be difficult for my in-person friends to understand.

And then there is always the hope that through this blog someone else can be helped as I work through everything and keep living the day to day as well.  Life goes on and this is how I’m trying to learn as I go.

All the Colors change

Once something traumatic has happened, you see the world differently.  I see the world differently.  Not better or worse, just different.  Things that were once important aren’t any more.  Things that weren’t important suddenly are.  Everything is colored a little differently.

Different or not, I’m still trying to walk through this world. I’m still trying to learn from this and become a better person for it.  I still see the beauty in the sunrises and sunsets.  I love listening to the birds in the morning and the coyotes in the evenings.  I enjoy conversations, cold beers, painting, reading, laughing.

But behind it all I’m trying to find my voice, give voice to those who don’t have it, and blaze a trail for change.

I pick at and piece through the trash pile that is the ways abusers work.  It is alarming how often I pick up a piece of that trash and think, “Oh, that looks familiar, that must be mine.”  Only to turn it over and see an Abuser’s name on it. It’s a bit disheartening to see how pervasive the blaming/ shaming way we treat victims is. 

For example, we all have heard “there’s a way victim’s walk, or hold their head, or (….) that clues abusers in that they are a good target”.


and I want to scream this at the top of my lungs,


It doesn’t flipping matter if PersonX walks around with a real sign that says, “I let people abuse me”, PersonX should not get abused.  PersonX should not be a target.  PersonX should feel and be safe.  End of story.  Even if the sign has shiny flashy lights with arrows.

No one should be a target.

Think about that for a minute.  If PersonX has poor self-esteem, (and that shows through their posture), there are people out there who are compelled to hurt PersonX because of it.  Abusers look for people who already feel inferior, then Abusers humiliate them, isolate them, manipulate their emotions, make them feel crazy, makes others think they’re crazy. 

And instead of denouncing the Abuser, instead of stopping the Abuser from finding and hurting others, the general population looks at PersonX and says, “hold your head up more, walk straighter so abusers won’t target you”.  Everything gets shifted over to PersonX.

Why are people so afraid of Abusers that they can’t stand up to them?  I stood alone in trying to get people to see see John Goosen as an abuser.  The other people in Mozambique were so afraid to stand up to him.  He needed to work. He needed his space.  It wasn’t good what he did, but he’s sorry.  He needs medication.

Not a single person, other than myself, looked at him and called him out.  Not one person actually stood up to him, except me.     

It has been enlightening to say the least, to realize every single person I’ve discussed abusive situations with has given ways to change PersonX.

Ex:   “I’d try to get them alone to tell them I could help them if they leave the abuser.”

“Abuser has a (…) problem.  PersonX needs to be more understanding.  I mean get away, but then they need to worry about themselves, not Abuser.  Good riddance, they can deal with themselves”

“If you just tell them to leave, they say ‘it’s only one time’, or ‘Abuser loves me’.  You have to give them little examples how to leave without really saying they need to.”

“I don’t understand why PersonX would go back after that.  PersonX needs to get their head examined.”

Not a single person suggested that the Abuser needs to change. 

The Abuser straight up thought, “Hey PersonX looks (insert adjective of choice ie, lonely, sad, etc.).  If I make them a little less (adjective) they’ll take any shit I dish out.”  “If you feel bad, I want to make you feel worse.”  “And I’m going to make you and everyone else think it’s your fault.”

And everybody else thinks, “PersonX should’ve made themselves look less like a victim.”

This is what abusers do.  They work the whole scenario from the beginning.  From the initial lure to the end, everything and everyone in their environment is part of the set up to get off scott-free.

Our True Colors

I think we are so entrenched, as a general population, in generations upon generations of dysfunctional families, war torn memories, secrets, and lies that we don’t even know how to see the first red flags anymore.  Abusers have done such a trick on the mainstream psyche that when we finally see the red flags, we all point fingers at the victims.

But how can we stop the abuse from happening if we start at the end?

What do you think? 

As you’ve heard/ read my and other stories, how many times have you asked the ‘questions of change’ to the victim rather than the abuser? 

How can we change that scenario?  How can we really stop abuse if we don’t change it?


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You see it’s all about that bed, bout that bed, no kidding

You see it’s all about that bed, bout that bed, no kidding

It would seem that my prior non-diseased self may have underestimated the amount of time it takes to recover from Typhoid. Apparently 5 days is not long enough. Nor is 7, or 8. Yes, I am still spending most days in bed.

The frustrating part is that while laying here, I feel fine. So I get up and try to do something…… then, it hits me. The weak, dizzy, tired, must go back to bed feeling.

Sunday I thought I’d fight through it and just go do some easy walking around, conversation, no big deal. I sat most of the day. However, Monday found me so damn drained I laid in bed for the majority of it; not even able to complain.

Today again, I feel ok while sitting here, but not once I get up and do anything, drained. I’m eating though. Getting my veggies and meat and starch. I have a sugar craving like I’ve never had before, so I figure why not? I’m eating anything I can right now. I’m eating at Escondidinho, instead of bed, so I’m getting a little exercise on the walk there.

The progress towards a school is, albeit slow, still marching on. Education is my life, even when in Africa, hahaha.

So, in my boredom I’ve been going through some of my photos and I’ve selected a few of my favorite sunrise and sunset photos from the last 2 weeks. Here ya go.

I'm amazed every day at these beautiful skies.

I’m amazed every day at these beautiful skies.


Mother Nature creates beauty that is awe inspiring.


I think I hear music in the air ❤


My rooftop is one of my favorite places!


The small fort is on it’s own little island that is only accessible by foot, and only during low tide.


Can you say wow?!


That’s the continent on the other side and two fishing boats.




The color contrast made me speechless.


Night night sun…… Thank you for your colors.


A creepy crawler on my bed. Not a great bed fellow……

I’ll put a few photos of me up once I don’t look as sick as I do right now. No one wants to see this mess. But soon I’ll be back at it. Beast mode will continue. And so will my journey through education.

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Posted by on 03/03/2015 in Uncategorized


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2 days in a row with electricity!!!

2 days in a row with electricity!!!

It is really humbling and amazing when things you have taken for granted most of your life become luxuries to be celebrated.

I got to take a real shower. I got to turn on the tap and brush my teeth! Conserving bottled water and only brushing my teeth once a day, SO glad to not be doing that for two days now.

Running the AC at night and not sweating through sleep-difficult nights is such a rich luxury I want to kiss the AC machine.

Life is good.

It’s an interesting phenomena that even with everything seemingly wrong, I’m learning how to make my time right here.

In Turkey, I had money, I was saving money, I could go see a movie or go to a mall. I had an oven, beauty products, my choice of hygiene products, but I was miserable.

Here, well, I have none of that. In fact, I have the most of nothing I’ve ever had, but, I can do good work here.

The construction company that has me doing their accounting asked me to teach a few of their workers English. We’ve only had 4 lessons but I am being stopped by people on the street every day now, to ask about English classes for themselves or their children. There is a desire to learn.

As far as I have heard so far, there has never been an English school here. And with the tourism industry about to boom here, what with all the hotels and museums currently in construction, there is not only a strong need, but a strong desire to learn.

I’m trying to find ways to make a living here while doing research into the needs. It’s a struggle, like I said, everything is seemingly going wrong. I wasn’t able to exchange my Turkish money, so I have none. My visa is setting up a daily fine that I can’t pay, plus the cost of the new visa once I get the fines paid. I have to figure out how to pay that while not making any money. My work at the construction company is paying room and board, so I have a roof over my head and food to eat, (with electricity I also have running water again !).

Luckily for me, being dirt poor is not new, I can do this too. Especially when I get to see some of the most beautiful scenery of my life.


the office


My room


More of the wonderful things I get to see each day


I got desperate for something sweet and wanted to make some cookies with my last egg…. I tried, that’s good. Right? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s funny, I asked my mama to send me some goodies while I was still in Turkey. Now those things seem so trivial, salsa, dried green chile, comfort foods. I still want paint, mosquito repellent, crayons….

I haven’t worn a stitch of makeup since I left Turkey. My needs to get by have been drastically altered, for the better I think. I look around me and see such poverty, yet such joy in life. People of all ages sing as they go down the street. It is not unusual to see people dancing wherever they are.

But it is also not unusual to see people just sitting. There is very little work here. The schools on Ilha are the best in this part of the country and many children are bussed in to attend. But the local children can’t afford it. They walk around the island all day, rolling tires with sticks, drawing in the sand, but just meandering around until night time.

I know I can do good here.

As I continue my research, I hope to begin posting more about the history of Ilha de Mozambique…. a place I am beginning to love.


Posted by on 14/02/2015 in Expat, health and healing


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12 Ways to Move From Powerless to Powerful

As I read this I realized that I am trying to do the things that good leaders do while feeling completely powerless…..   So I’m going to really work harder on numbers 3 and 4 especially.


And realize that those things the weak people are doing are not in my control.  It’s a good read from one of my favorite bloggers and something I really needed to read this morning.


Thanks Dan for yet another great post.

12 Ways to Move From Powerless to Powerful.


^^^  Yeah click there to read it  ^^^ up there  ^^^


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An Ode to Dan and Kenny

I had hoped this day would come, but I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure while I was in the midst of my TEFL program.

This week has proven to me once and for all that the training I got at TEFL Worldwide Prague is invaluable. How, you ask?

I got sick.

Last Thursday I began to feel it. By Saturday it was worthy of another trip to the doctor, and by Monday morning my voice was completely gone. Not even a whisper.

I had to teach a room full 4-6 year olds with no voice. No easy feat anywhere, but especially tricky in Asian countries where teachers speaking unusually loud is the general rule of thumb. There I sat with 19 children waiting for me to teach them their conversation, phonics, and reading lessons…. in a language they are still learning and need to hear on a regular basis.

I don’t know sign language well enough to be considered good at it. I know a few things I’ve known for a long time. But it is something I have used in almost all of my teaching experiences. It just makes life easier for me and more fun for kids. When we review the alphabet, I sign it. I teach a few songs I know and I a few signs I know: boy, girl, wait, applause, good, happy, thank you, rain, sun, cry, lunch, mommy, daddy, listen, etc.

Though there was only one session in which the TEFL course went over teaching children, there were many other lessons in which the ability to teach these children, with no voice, was able to happen.

1: Plan

I had my plan for the week already prepared so it was fairly simple to figure out what I needed to do this week, and what I could get away with holding off until next week.

2: Have extra prepared – always

I have been working them hard for the last week and a half on the books to get them ahead. We are putting together and rehearsing this week for their big Christmas production next week.

We have also been using a Gingerbread man theme for all of our extra activities, so along with their workbook pages; I had a few worksheets and fun pages for them as time consumers if needed. This made me feel prepared and more able to think on my feet in this mini-crisis. If nothing else, they have easy activities they can do all day and be perfectly fine.

3: Talk less, teach more, 3.5: Use gestures

Man did I ever use these strategies this week!! I still don’t have my full voice back yet. It’s better, but I sound like a 65 year old lifelong smoker.

I saw how well these strategies work when teaching adults during my TEFL course, but this is also where I struggled the most. I’ve been working with young ones most of my life. If I talk less, they do less of what I need them to do and more complete chaos ensues.

Case in point: During one of my less than fully successful TEFL lessons, I saw the (adult) students start veering off in a direction different than my plan called for. They were talking, but their talk wasn’t what I envisioned for the lesson. In the child world, the one I am most acquainted with, if they start talking on a different path you will never get them back.

If you go off course with little ones they turn into giggly, deer-in-the-headlights monsters with an even less-than-usual attention span and no ability to reason. They need consistent structure and simple, constant reminders. EX: As every student files into the library you repeat the same phrase: Put the books in the tray, Put the books in the tray, Put the books in the tray, Put the books in the tray, Put the books in the tray, Gigi are your books in the tray? Put the books in the tray. Every time we go to library we put the books in the tray. Put the books in the tray.

My TEFL students were beginning level, ultra elementary English learners. My mind (already overwhelmed) went into autopilot when they began veering off track. I stopped the activity and reset the instructions trying to get them back on track. WRONG answer for that group. Elementary level language learner does NOT equal elementary level reasoning skills. They could EASILY have gone exactly where they needed to go and learned so much had I just let them. Instead, I ended up talking even more and getting flustered. They were talking even less and the whole main point of the lesson was sideswiped by my inability to talk less and let learning happen.

As I sat there looking at these tiny Taiwanese children who had just said,


at the top of their tiny lungs, fully expecting the normal response, I quite literally said to myself,

“It’s time to find out if they can learn more if I talk less”.

4. Elicit the word

I knew they needed to repeat the morning conversations. Well, they learned them in sign language that morning. I wrote GOOD on the board. Without saying a word, I just pointed to each letter and then drew an imaginary line underneath the whole word. Then I signed GOOD, looked at them and repeated that routine until one of them started saying the letter sounds and the word at the right times.

Thank goodness for the smart kids!!

Then, they were all saying /g/ /Ʊ/ /d/ and /gƱd/ together and signing it. I did the same thing with MORNING sans the individual sounds. They knew what the word was going to be and so knew to say MORNING right away.

Then I signed for them to say the greeting again, “GOOD MORNING TEACHER MARI” and I answered them by first pointing to the words on the board and then signing GOOD MORNING CLASS. I didn’t review CLASS and was happily surprised when one of my students asked,

“Does that (makes sign) mean PLUTO or CLASS”? (I love their little minds.)

Fair question because my part of the normal conversation is GOOD MORNING PLUTO CLASS.

We did the rest of the morning conversations with me pointing to the phrase strips on the board and having them say the response phrase without my prompting them vocally. Guess what? They can totally do it!

I also knew I needed to review phonics sounds. I wrote ‘o’ on the board and cupped my ear and looked at them. One said the name ‘o’, so I crossed my hands, pointed to myself and put my hand back around my ear and pointed to the board.

BAM, they got it (to not say the name) and said the short sound. Then I wrote ‘t’ next to the ‘o’ to form ‘ot’ and cupped my hand around my ear again.

Bam, they go that. Then I wrote a list of ‘ot’s and had the students say ‘ot’ each time. Next, I added a letter in front of an ‘ot’ one at a time (‘d’ to form ‘dot’, ‘l’ ‘lot’, ‘n’ ‘not’etc.) and had them say each new word. Then, I pointed to each word several times up and down the list I had created and had them say the words. Finally, I erased the beginning sound of each word one at a time and had them say ‘ot’ each time.

5: Concept Check, 3.5: Use gestures

When I got to ‘hot’, I mimed being cold and then put up my hands like I was asking a question and then pointed to hot.

“NO!! You are cold”!

So I pointed to hot and fanned myself while looking fairly pathetically at them and put my hands back up in question stance.

YES! Hot, you are hot”!

For ‘lot’ I held up 2 fingers and then used the question stance. They looked puzzled (which I was planning on) and so I held up both my hands wiggled my fingers and held up one of my feet and wiggled my toes, then pointed to the word again and went into question stance. I did both gestures again and got an army of giggles and “NO”‘s when I held up 2 fingers and a complete explosion of laughter and “YES”‘s when I held up and wiggled every digit not necessary to remain upright.

6: Give the paper last

I needed an in-house refresher on that one and got it this week. It is IMPOSSIBLE
to get young children to listen to instructions when A) you can’t speak B) you give them the paper first.


I am not joking. I have so sincerely learned this lesson now.

In my mind I thought, “I cannot explain how to do this without a voice. I will show it to them and then work each section with them”.

I was on crack and that worksheet went straight into the trash can because no way is a parent going to lay eyes on it.

I have since found that showing them the paper, doing an example on the board, having them repeat the example on the board, and then giving them the paper is in fact the tried and true way to do it.

End of story. Do not give them the paper until the very last second.

Though much of what I learned in TEFL Worldwide Prague cannot be applied to teaching children, much can! Much more than I thought.

I wonder if they realize how much?

Thanks Kenny Thanks Dan, you really made my life a lot easier this week!!



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A quick lunchtime summation

Brief Summary

I’ve begun my new teaching job.

I’m a full-time homeroom kindergarten teacher at a bilingual American style Elementary school in Jhubei City, Hsinchu County, Taiwan.

I teach K2, which means it’s their second year of full time school.

I have 19 fairly adorable 4-5 year olds.  (At 4 years old, this is their second year of full time school.)

At least half of the students are sick at any given time.  They wear face masks, but seem to have no concept of spreading germs via, coughing right in someone’s face, wiping their snot on their hands and then grabbing their little friends hands to continue playing, sneezing over the whole table, or just general stuff like don’t play with your snot.  I’ll be fixing that soon enough,  well that’s the plan anyway.

I have exhausted my supply of EmergenC and AirBorn both, if anyone wants to send some to me, that would be the most amazing thing!! I can’t find it here yet.

I found a nice little Trader Joe’s type store, thanks to Techno neighbor, and can now get my hands on some lavender oil to ward off mosquitoes.  I also bought a fantastic 5 seed bread sandwich with sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, pepper, onions, some kind of red something or the other, mustard, and ham.

Again, thanks to Techno neighbor, I had a delicious fruit smoothie for breakfast this morning.

The one student that hasn’t been to school more than 12 days all year so far, hasn’t missed a single day since I started.

I even ate the seaweed today at lunch.

The air conditioner is a wonderful invention that should be put in some kind of hall of fame somewhere.  The same one where the sliced white bread is will work.

When it’s not overcast, this place is gorgeous.

Things I want to know more about

I took a picture of what looked like a really cool place up the side of a hill.  Wendy told me to erase the picture, it was a bad thing to take a picture of.  When she explained it to me, I realized I need to learn more about the Night Clubs for the Dead.

Yep, you saw that right.  I said, what? night clubs?  To which Wendy said, “you know night clubs?  go to dance have a good time?”

“yes, I know what a night club is.”

“This place is a night club for the dead.”

“For people that have died?”


“they go dancing?”

“many ghosts go there”

I’m at a loss here, if anyone has the scoop on this, please enlighten me.  I don’t feel that I could have misunderstood her explanation, but I need to understand the concept of a night club for ghosts.  The like of which I am not allowed to take pictures of.  I know a few ghost hunters that would be all about the picture taking.

K, gotta get back to class….   Peace and love everyone, peace and love.





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Unlearning and Birthday loveliness

Birthday Adventures

Last week I tried to book myself a hotel for my birthday night.  I learned seven good lessons.

One: Try to have someone that speaks the language help, it will save some frustrating hours.

Two: Don’t ever agree to pay up front without the full agreement understood first.

Three: Don’t ever mix up your Korunas with your Euros.  $1400 CZK= ~$75.  1400 Euros =~$1780.  Significant difference.

Four:  Birthdays are wonderful when spent in a new country, with new friends, new foods, good beer, great atmosphere.  A hotel room is not necessary.

Five: Nobody gets off free for their birthday.  Apparently, the one lesson in which I actually had a student leave and then come back and tell me they really enjoyed class, was the most unsuccessful of the lot according to my instructor.  Never take a good day for granted.

Six: A birthday cake muffin is pretty damn special when it’s brought in at the beginning of class with candles and everything!  Having a group of new friends sing Happy Birthday can make me cry. Thank you Christine, for starting my day out fantastically.

Seven: Andell Restaurant is my favorite.  Thanks to Katie, Daniel, Rachel, Liz, and Aidan for ending the evening with me there.

All in all my 40th birthday a resounding success.

Je to hotové – It is finished

The last day was yesterday.  What a crazy, ambitious, ridiculous, learning curve that was.  Cheryl said I survived just as we all do.  I suppose.  I would rather have done better than mere survival, but I can say I successfully survived.  How do I feel about my TEFL license?  Damn I earned that.  I had to work hard to stay on top of it.
My belief is that I will be able to better understand what I was just taught as time goes on.  It will be an accumulative understanding.  Was I the best student? No.  Was I the worst student? Not even, but I could have done better.

Notes on unlearning – an education rant

Why as Education students are we taught semester after semester of theory without being given practical knowledge of how to use all that theory.  Sure, I can write a paper about all the ways and reasons that having a student-centered classroom is the way to go, but seriously, we are NOT taught how to do it.  I have no capacity to explain just how much practical, actual, student-centered learning I just witnessed.

I have had to figure out (phrasal verb) how on earth to unlearn everything I’ve learned about how I thought I was supposed to run a classroom.  I did a damn good job before, but now I know even better ways.  Group work, pair work, these terms have hugely different meanings to me than they did just 2 months ago, yet, completely the same.  I now have an actual example of how to do what we talked about should be done.

Tip 2.5 for future TEFL students:  Read the “suggested readings”.  You WILL need to know the stuff and it is not easy to learn what you are teaching the day before you have to teach it, week after week.  Sure, you’ll get by without having read them, but it will be exponentially more difficult.  Get to know your grammar so that you can focus on the teaching method in class.  I was rarely able to focus on absorbing how the teacher taught us (which is why we’re here, to learn how) because I was too busy trying to learn all the grammar.  I would rather have been able to focus on the how more.

Side (pity party) Note for ALL students, not just TEFL students:  If there is a College survival/ note taking class offered at your campus, Take It.  I wish I had any ability to take notes that I could get actual information from.  I bought my recording pen because I have no idea how to take notes really.  Although I did start a timeline style that worked pretty well for notating how the instruction was taking place…

My pen ran out of memory and I was screwed from that point on.  Another gal (my TEFL Hermione) had these amazing notes that she color coded and wrote perfectly and beautifully as class was happening.  That shit comes from being taught how.  Take The Classwhatever it’s called – It is worth it.

Side side note, the Echo Smartpen from Livescribe has saved my educational life on many occasions.  It is worth every penny.


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2 weeks and 2 days in

You know that saying

A picture is worth a thousand words.

If you think of a moment in time as a picture, it’s amazing how much that moment can say.

For example.

I was walking across the street, to the hurried clicking of the crosswalk timer, as a bus was making it’s own hurried way toward the intersection.  I happened to glance up and see the bus drivers face as I hastily stepped my back foot onto the sidewalk at the precise moment when both the light turned green and the bus went through the intersection.  One look.  One moment.  One very clear message.

“I knew the light was going to be green when I arrived at it.  I have a schedule to keep.  I run a tight schedule.  I’m not going to slow down because you didn’t get to the cross walk in time.  I don’t care if I run you over, you’re obviously a foreigner and you should have travel insurance.  If you don’t, that’s your own damn fault.  You can’t hurt my bus, and I don’t care if I flatten you.  Good-bye.”

Note to self:  Always walk across the street at a brisk pace.

Things I was not expecting about the Czech Republic?

  • Sit down showers with no shower curtain.
  • Beds that are only 5’5” long.
  • Comforters that are only 4’5” long.
  • Every door is key-locked both to get into and to get out of.
  • No such thing as a clothes dryer.


  • Buying dried herbs in single use pouches.
  • Buying baking soda in single use pouches.
  • Women pushing babies in strollers, people carrying their groceries,  dogs, all going down the metro escalator at a mere 30 degree incline, up to 8000 m long, and some of the fastest in Europe.
  • A (for real) lack of public smiling.

Seriously the children don’t even smile when walking around.  I am sure that somewhere the smile exists in Czech Republic, but I have yet to see one that is not attached to a non-native.  I refuse to have the smile taken out of me, but I’m getting way better at walking down the street with a “I’ma F you up” look.  Amazingly I am not even noticed if I walk around like that, but the minute I crack a slight version of what might be considered a smile, everyone has an opinion.  It’s usually not a good one.

More things I was not expecting about the Czech Republic

  • Flowers on every corner stand.


  • Every building boasts sculpture, color, art, and architectural beauty.
  • A remarkable public transportation system!

The buses, trams, and metros will take you anywhere in the city in no time and it’s inexpensive to boot!

  • The food is really good, and really real.  No preservatives and corn sugar.
  • I am NOT afraid of Czech dogs.  They are incredibly well trained here.
  • The people are incredibly friendly once I got past the generic exterior.  I was always helped with generosity and kindness.
  • All the souvenir places sell basically the same stuff everywhere in the city.  I don’t feel so bad about Old Town Albuquerque anymore.
  • Dance clubs here are an interesting experience.  I think I’ll try it again.
  • The amazing beauty of the landscape, buildings, river, and women. (sorry, the Czech guys cannot boast the same intense beauty the women can, wish it were so, sigh)  It’s just a beautiful city.

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It’s a whole new world.  I feel that I am only improving.  I wish we had been taught this method at UNM.  I remember being taught the theories of what I am learning how to do.  And DAMN why aren’t we taught grammar??  We do not teach Language in Language Arts.   I am even more convinced than I was before that there not only has to be a better way, there actually is.  I’m not sure that what I am learning is the best, but I have learned so much more in the last week and a half than I did in the  last 2 semesters of college.  This is not because I don’t think that what I am learning isn’t fantastic,  I just haven’t learned enough different ways to say that this is the best….  who knows?  Maybe it is.

This is who I am

I am doing my best to believe and trust in whatever God type being is out there.  I am trusting.  It is not turning out the way I had envisioned, but it is turning out well.   This is the scariest moment I’ve had so far, the moment when I realize that I am about to make this absolutely real.  Not just a vacation, a learning vacation, but 100% real.  Maybe it’s the part of me that loves roller coasters so much, but I feel this fear and just get excited.  I am in the process of being.

Now, I just need to find some solitude so that I can dance, just for me.  I need to feel the energy and recharge.  I’ve been practicing Kundalini yoga in the mornings but I can’t put on any music to dance with.  I miss it.

Back to amazing amounts of homework…… not unlike the last 4 years of my life, but somehow very different.


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Thinking through my decisions – An education rant of a blog

This is going to be a random stream of my thoughts….. no real symmetry will happen, and I probably won’t connect one thought to the next with precision, but….I need to write this out as I think it out.

One life is not enough to learn – not even to learn what we don’t know or still need to learn, but if we build each other up with what we have learned,  – we can make a better dent in the whole affair.

Why do we as humans persist in believing that power can only be grown if it is taken from others?

It’s just not true – light is more powerful as it is multiplied, energy is more powerful as it is amplified, strength comes from adding muscle – everything we know tells us that we must “add to” in order to gain.

But still we insist on reducing the power of others in order to feel more powerful.

I am a mother – I am a teacher – I am a woman – I am educated enough to know I need more.  As I think through my decision to become not just a teacher of English in other countries, but an aspiring change in the world of education, I am consistently reinforced by the amazing, near-cruel stories of bigotry and racism that are actually denying the children of our country an education that is effective in creating a desire to learn.

Though it creates an austere reflection that defies any way of making it sound better – I must recognize that I may do my all-out best to create something that does effectively create a desire to learn in children, but that I will only be able to make as much progress as the general population can stop taking power away from children.

Throughout time, from Aristotle to Skinner, we are warned that we need to educate our children or face certain calamity.  History tells us that those in power keep the masses only educated enough to make the people feel as though they are making informed decisions, but uneducated enough to not know what’s really driving the decisions.

Those in power propagate the idea that education is not that important and make it too expensive for the larger underclass.  Why?  Because educated constituents will have more opinions, look more closely, and expect comparable treatment.  I may be putting myself into a world of chaos by choosing this path.

Am I going to create real change or do I have my head in clouds that they don’t belong in?  I feel it’s right.  I feel so powerfully motivated to get out there and research the hell out of teaching, learning, and creating desire to learn.  I worry that I’m going to get out there and find nothing better than what I just got at UNM.  I don’t believe that is true, but I worry about it.  (No slam against UNM intended, merely noting that it’s the only education on being a teacher that I have, so far).

At work today I have met 6 different families from 6 different countries.  As I generically chat with them we discuss why they are visiting Albuquerque, what they do back home, and what they plan to do with their lives.  It’s a small, highly packed store.  That gives them tons of browsing to do, all in conversation keeping locations.  When I told them I am going to teach out-of-country they have been excited and each asked if I was going to teach English when I get back home.

Of course, yes, it’s even the reason I am going to teach out of country.  I want to find a way to teach our many English Language Learners more effectively.   Then I get wonderful stories about their experiences in learning English, but then the same – “I’m glad I didn’t have to learn it in the US.”

We can’t keep taking away the power of our children.  No matter what language they speak as a baby, no matter what culture they are raised in at home, if their home is in the US, we need to allow them to keep their power as humans, not strip them of dignity, not enslave them through racism, not keep them in a state of without through social propaganda, and certainly not deny them education.  They are kids, children.  We become stronger as we educate ALL of our children.

What do you think?


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Terry Davis’s Duke City Fix blog about my students

We’re actually into the story now and the students couldn’t be anticipating what is going to happen next any more!  I had 3 of them say they were going to rent one of the movies this weekend, 2 ask where they could get the book, and 1 borrow my copy.

Don’t ever tell me 8th graders won’t, because yes they will.

In all of my attempts to find ways to make this story come to life for them, I wrote to Popejoy Hall education department inquiring about a tour for the students that win the tickets.  I can’t believe the wonderful response I’ve been given.  The staff purchased another ticket for me so that I can take a student from each of my three classes!  The theatrical director is going to take us on a tour, and thanks to Terry Davis, we were featured in a blog on Duke City Fix!

I am so inspired by my students and so grateful to Popejoy/ UNM for helping me to give these students an experience that can be a positive force for the rest of their lives.

Les Miserables is that one book, that one story that anyone can identify with, even if you are an 8th grader from Albuquerque.  I would hug Victor Hugo if I could!


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