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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween to everyone reading this.  I don't have a costume this year, but many of the kids I live with are wearing those masks from the Scream movies that came out 10 years ago. 

If you read my last blog, you probably saw some big grammatical errors and I apologize for those.  I thank some avid readers of this blog for pointing the mistake.  I have since made the correction.  Also, please let me know of an error you see on this blog and future blogs.  I do type fast when I write these. 

Yesterday, the family I stay with went on a small road trip to Pampanga and we drove through Dinalupihan, my training site for two and a half months.  It was nice to see the old neighborhood again even if we just drove by.  When we arrived, I saw a small farm with roosters and plenty of pigs (bamboy in Tagalog), it was great.  I didn't realize how much I missed the farm life of waking up to roosters and other animal noises.  Here in the OC (Olongapo City), I still here roosters, but not as often as I did in Dinalupihan.  Anyway, this was a place I wish I had my camera, I got my photo taken with plenty of animals & friends.  Luckily, one of my neighbors took my photo with her camera and I'll get to show you those in a future blog. 

As I wrote in some letters to family members last week, last Monday I taught solo for the first time.  It was a crazy experience.  When the kids my first classes found out that their main teacher wasn't going to be there, the went wild.  My afternoon classes were more forgiving.  It's nice to be on break now.  Every year the school gets Halloween off, but they also get November 1st & 2nd off as well.  November 1st is "All Souls Day."  All the families around here go to the cemetery to have a picnic and honor those family members who have passed.  I guess the next day is recovery from that picnic.  I will go to the cemetery with the family I am staying with here in Barangay New Kalalake, Olongapo City.

Basketball
My basketball team is 3-0.  Our last game was an exciting one.  They were down by 9 in the 4th Qtr and came back to force overtime.  They overtook the opponent in overtime, but almost blew by fouling them and bringing them to the foul line with a few seconds left.  Luckily, they missed the second free throw.  We were off last week, but are back on the court this Saturday.

Shoulder update
Drum roll please.  As of the last week in October, I am officially done with physical therapy.  Don't worry, I still work my shoulder with the stretch band, but it's nice to have 180 degree range with my shoulder.

Ingat na

Steve

Friday, October 14, 2011

Moving One Day at a Time

These past three weeks have gone by pretty fast even though I haven’t done much except try to rewrite the schedule to no avail.  My second week here, there was a terrible rain storm that flooded the streets and closed the schools for four days and during that week I rewrote the school schedule, which would be different than their current schedule because it would allow students to get out early around 4 pm instead of 4:30 pm or 4:40 pm.  What I did was take out their breaks.  They have two 15 minute breaks (one in the morning and another in the afternoon).  However, this idea is almost shot down by the feedback I got from the teacher survey I passed around last week (my third week). 

The reason for no breaks was to reduce noise from the breaks and have students more in class.  When I was in school between ages 12-16, I never had recess.  However, I did have an hour of Physical Education and that’s what this group needs.  But how do you provide regular physical education when you don’t have adequate space and you have to share the basketball court with the community and another school next door.  For example, the girls only had 20 minutes to practice for their basketball games on Friday, (which they placed third) before they had to give up the court to the community who were just using it for money games (gambling during school hours.)

Teacher’s day and the start of practice for our sports festival took over the third week and the sports festival took over this week as well as I only taught one lesson, but it was very successful and the students enjoyed it.  The lesson was called Human Scrabble where students got into two groups where each student had a letter of the alphabet.  The idea is for the students to come up with multiple words with the letters they have.  One team came up with eleven and the other team had seven.  The best way is for the students to get on the floor and to make words that way or use the chalkboard.  However, I’ve seen better success on the floor.  

Back to the third week, I observed the first day and then the next two days were taken over by Teachers day.  Teachers’ day is big here.  Each female teacher received multiple flowers/roses from students and everyone got out a half day early.  The next day was the same thing all over again, but without the students and in an arena where the teachers were the entertainers singing and dancing all day.  The day after that was back to school, but only half the students were in class; the other half were outside practicing (ahmm, just playing outside) for the sports fest the next week.  The same thing happened this week.  The actual sports fest is only two days, but the school allows them to practice during class for the event.  No wonder these kids can’t read.  They have this ruckus in the background and can’t concentrate.

On Wednesday our team had a practice game against St Joseph, which my team lost to.  We're lucky we didn't play them for real; that team was really good.  The opposing team’s coach said something great to me before the game and said that was that the school I am at is lucky to have me.  I said thank you very much in the local language.  That was great to hear.  I know my school feels the same. 

Yesterday, we played for real and won by 15 against another team.  I am ending this blog early because I just got the notice my computer is running out of battery now.  I'll write again whenever I can.  On Monday I start teaching for real, wish me luck.  Ingat na. (Take Care.)