Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Slumber Parties and Cowboys

This past weekend was my first time sleeping away from home. I like to say at this point in my second Childhood I am back up to college, but that isn't true. I'm up to middle school. I get picked on by high schoolers and I couldn't sleep I was so excited about a slumber party. Okay, so techinically it wasn't officially a slumber party, it was Program Travel. I got to go down to Koch Kor in Naryn, the "authentic Kyrgyz" part of the country. Koch Kor is up in the mountains and pretty spectacular. Although, it is extremely cold. My host Mama told me not to go down there becuase I would get sick, we'll get back to that. I went down there to help with some American Cowboys. A group of cowboys came from Wyoming doing a mountain to mountain exchange. They came to show horse tricks and share the culture of the American cowboy. Since I was going so far anyways I showed up a few days before the rodeo to hang out. I was so overwhelmed by getting to speak English that they couldn't get me to quiet down the first few nights. One night I stayed up talking all night to this girl Jill, also from Michigan... we actually played basketball against each other in High School. And another night with another volunteer Brandon. I say it was a slumber party because it had all the fixings: The staying up all night talking, rockin' out to Forgiener's Juke Box Hero, and playing pranks on the first person to fall asleep. We felt so grown up. One night we even got to sing Karoake. I did Sweet Dreams with Jill for three Kyrgyz men. And later that night I sang Beauty and Beast with another Voluneteer, Justin, to the only other person there, the bartender. She was very polite about it. The rodeo was interesting. They tried to have a buckin' Bronco but the horses here are much tamer so that did not work out very well. They also had a Kyrgyz translator for the cowboys. It proved very difficult to translate Wyomin' into Kyrgyz. At the end they were giving out prizes to the kids who had won some of the competition. They asked myself, Brandon, Justin, and Kay to work as blockers. This was not fun. We had to push kids back so they wouldn't steal all of the cowboy's stuff. I think we all got spit on. I had three luggies hawked on me. One hit my coat, another in my hair, and another one on the back of my neck. I was told by the end of it after being spit on so many times I seemed to enjoy pushing the kids back... This might be true. I keep having to remind myself I am a volunteer and I will do whatever, whenever I am asked to help. Although, now I'm thinking if working blocker for a cowboy is asked I'm going to try and talk someone else into it. Yesterday on the way back from Koch Kor I absolutely felt like death. I had gotten really sick while I was there. My mama likes to keep telling me how she was right. Driving through the mountains was painful on my congested head. I couldn't hear anything yesterday. Today, I have absolutely no voice. Today teaching class with no voice was interesting. We had been learning animals, so today we just colored the animals. Last night I had to sit with a tea kettle that had steaming water and Baking Soda in it and two blankets over my head. This was suppose to get my voice back but it didn't. I am resting up though because this weekend will be my first time hosting a slumber party. My host sister is getting married and my Mama is letting me have my friends Lydia and Brandon be guests at the wedding. I'm pretty jazzed. Once other vols found out that I was having guests to rock out at my sis's wedding they all started trying to invite themselves. I had to say no. I'm only being allowed these two guests becuase I promised my mama I would dance at the wedding if two of my friends can come. She thinks I don't dance enough.Alright I have to go take some nyquil and get 12 hours of sleep so hopefully I can say something in class tomorrow, or else we are doing more coloring.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My Class..

I literally had to stand in front of the class today and scribble on a girls hand. She had written all the answers to the exam on her hand and it "wouldn't" wash off. These kids haven't figured out like Vicotria Danielsky and I figured out in high school Spanish, just copy off the smart kid. For me that was my sister. For them there are three different choices and they still come up with prehistoriac ways of cheating that I can spot easily. Now before exams we are going to ahve to do a hand check. I don't think they realize I don't like that anymore than they do.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

My Personal Soundtrack

My iPOD made the desicion to take it's own life, totally unprovoked. Sitting there on my desk not ten minutes before alive and active, and then when I came back... gone. I could do nothing to revive it. As of right now I'm ignoring the bone crushing depression that will come with a cold hard winter alone and no music. For right now I am focusing on the soundtrack of my life.Most days I like to go for long walks to see the beautiful countryside and to study my Russian. I make a little index card full of words I want to learn and try and memorize them. On my way out of town I always pass this one house that has music blaring. The other day the song "I come from a Land Down Under" or is it called "Down Under" see it is on my iPOD, if it was alive and ticking I could check what the official name is. Anyway, the song by Colin Hay, sung by Men at Work (I own both of Colin Hay's solo albums so I didn't have the Men at Work version I had the accustic version). It seemed wrong to have it blaring as I walked by. Then I had to realize it makes no more sense then when I would blast it in my room in East Lansing. Hell, I'm closer to Australia here then I was in Michigan. I tried to tell myself that it is more okay there, even though I have never been to Australia, because the song is in English. That same day when I came back from my walk "Lady in Red" was blaring. There was no arguement in my mind for that one, that was a weird song to hear here. Alot of English songs are constantly used in Ads on Television here. One song that is constantly being played is that WHAM! Christmas song. The other day I found my 7 year old host niece, who I taught to say, "shake your money maker" knows the words to it better than I do. She sat there singing ever so nicely, "Last Christmas I gave you might heart and the very next day you gave it away..." I was very impressed. But for her encore we went into a little James Brown. And dance party was started.They keep reminding us that this is a 24 slash 7 job(the always say slash). So when I see work to be done or anyone needing help I try to jump in and give a hand if I can. The other day a bunch of teenage girls were husking corn. I asked if I could help out and they said sure. For the next few hours we sat there and husked corn and sang any English song they knew. We started with Old McDonald. They didn't know what any of the aminal names were even though we made the animal sounds; because as I have found around the world animal noises, as imitated by people are not universal. But old McDonald quickly led into Michael Jackson, Britany Spears,and eventually Black eyed peas where we sang "shut up" and "Humps". I also was given the job of trying to explain what "Never, never, never goin' let you go" ment without being able to remember the word for never. I had to grab on to a girl and say, "never, never, never goin' let you go." Seemed to get the idea across. My hands were rubbed raw from husking corn, but my vocal cords were shot from a rousing round of "Oops, I did it again."In my class on Friday a student stood up and asked me what, "I'm going to F*** my B***h up right" ment. I told him to sit down and NEVER(I looked up the word when I got home) say that again. That it is very bad for someone his age to say that, or my age, for anyone as a matter of fact. I asked where he learned that and he said a Rap Song. Probably 50 Cent, they are obsessed with him here. The saddest part is I like Rap, but I realized I don't like the image of Americans they are sending out to the world. Last night I made a mean batch of Kettle Korn for my family. I sang if "Hammer Song" while I made it. You know.... "If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the mornin'..." You know! But as we sat there eating the POPcon(as my family calls it) they all liked to talk about how smart I was because I make a mean batch of Popcorn. Praising me because of my extensive knowledge of popcorn is not done enough. Actually, it was done only once before last night, when a friend of mine from college(Max) tricked me into making him popcorn on the stove. When I rocked it, he sat there talking about how great the popcorn was and my mad popcorn skills. Let's face it, I do have some mad skillzzzz

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Nothing is as it seems...

In Kyrgyzstan the words Leonade and Salad are used very loosely. My first time I had lemonade here I was like, ahhhh nice refreshing Pear juice. My teacher, the next day said I had drank lemonade. I argued with her, no I couldn't have it tasted like Pear. She told me that yes, it was lemonade. I responded with a confused so there were lemons in it? no.It was pear juice. Lemonade seems to be the term for any juice that they don't quite call juice. Then...salads. Salads here can be anything. tomatoes and cucumbers. Califlower. cabbage. meat. But I have yet to see one with lettuce. I tried to explain to Lydia and I's English club that in America Salads, have lettuce. The explaination didn't go over very well because the word for lettuce in Russian is... salad. That is a barrier in their learning that I don't think they will actually understand till they go to America order a salad and all that craziness I tried to explain will suddenly make sense.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006


My students and I link arms. We start walking down a path. Slowly the walk turns into a skip. Then eventually we pick up the pace and start running. All laughing, talking having a great time. We eventually reach a field where we start dancing around, totally free of a care in the world. Then pink bunnies with magical wands come in and join us. They wave their wands around my students and they magically speak English(kind of a mother willow in Pochantas..thing.) We all have a great time speaking fluent English, giggling, and there is defiantly cake. Isn't this what teaching is like?ISN'T IT?ISNTIT?It has to be like that.IT. HAS. TO. BE.IT! HAS! TO! BE!I mean this is what I was thinking teaching would be like. I started teaching today. I'm going to have revise how much I thought I could teach these kids in two years. The problem with all of our training is most of it focused on how to teach grammar. I have booklet after booklet about grammar. Me? I have to teach the alphabet, the SOUNDS of the alphabet, Greetings... maybe I'll get around to animals. I have abosolutely no base. Today I had only two classes. The 6a class was alright. Small, relatively well behaved.A couple students that actually wanna learn. I also had 3a. There were about 10 too many students for my amount of desks and chair(not too mention space) none of them see the benefit of learning English and have no desire to do so. So, me and a room full of eight year olds this was the majority of class.(translated from Russian to English for your benefit)SIT DOWN!NO! I said write it on the inside! No, now be quiet!Quiet!I can't read that!Your Fir... BE QUIET! FIRST NAME Than your... QUIET!!! Last name!!!no,no,no,no.justshutup (queitly said under my breathe in English)OKAY NO ONE GETS TO USE THE TIOLET!SIT! DOWN!QUIET!yeah... Defiantly going to have to approach that group a little differently than maybe my 6th form. Don't these kids understand teaching isn't easy and their bad behavior isn't helping any. I mean I'm sure I was a perfectly quiet student who sat there and understood everything the teacher said, because I paid attention when s/he spoke. I was helpful and quietly explained what to do to any of the children who might not have heard everything. I instantly knew everything the teacher said and responded to questions with a single hand raise. Yep, That was me as a student. My memory of that time period might be a little fuzzy, but I'm sure that is what I was like. I wouldn't want to cause any unnessary stress for the teacher. I was a perfect student. At least that is how I remember it.