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.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Working on Christmas

In Peace Corps we are not given Christmas Day off. So, I still ahd to teach class. I was able to have some of the boy volunteers come and stay with me and give lectures to my kids and do activities to explain American Holidays.

One of the boys, Gino, was born and spent his childhood in Russia so he speaks fluent Russian. The other boys Brandon, Zach, and Justin don't speak any Russian. They learned Kygyz here in country. So, what we did is those boys talked in English and then Gino would translate into Russian. Then we did some activities with the kids. The lectures were, um... interesting to say the least.
Zach talked about Christmas in all of his lectures. He seems like a pretty good teacher. He was engaging and asking them questions and getting them to read what he wrote on the board. Even taught them what CAROL means. Great teasher I give him a 5(A in America).

Justin, well he is not a teacher. He is a business volunteer. It was a scandal and a half that he wrote with his left hand. For me it felt like he was trying to diagram how to get the GDP up for Halloween. His talk to my 5a class about Ground Hog's day made us look less than intelligent. Gino couldn't think of the word for Ground Hog so he said Large Rodent. Hearing about a day where a large rodent comes out and sees it's shadow was weird. My students looked perplexed, I could understand where they are coming from. It does sound like a pretty stupid idea.

The best talkes, for those of us who understand English at least, were my friend Brandon's. They were passionate and heartfelt. His first talk with my 6a was about Independence Day. He came out of the gate swinging, "We all know one thing: America is the GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!" Gino looked at him, Brandon gave him the eyebrow raise to translate it. He did, with a little change. He translated it to, "America has many holidays." Myself and Gino were the only ones who knew what had just happened so Gino had to suppress and giggle while I bit my lip and started making squeeking noises as I tried not to laugh. Brandon then kept going between my world map; that is situationed under some bubble letters that say, "Life is calling, how far will you go?", and the front of the room. He went on about the vil empire of England and the Great nation that is America. He started writing on the board about 1776. My 6a is alreay generally confussed class, so I instructed them to take out their notebooks and copy down what he was writing on the board. He started ranting and raving about tea and the Bostonians dressed up as Native Americans. The thing about his rants is:
a. He was so passionate and loud
b. Gino was quite and none emotional while translating
c. Gino rarely actually translate what he said
Brandon also did a lecture for my 4a class about St. Patricks day. The day where we all become Irish, we get pinched if we don't wear green, the ADULTS drink green beer, and the city of Chicago dyes its river green. My students I was sitting by kept asking why to all these things and I wanted to just say, "It's an excuse to party." I instead kept telling them it is a tradition and aren't traditions fun, and asking them what they think about traditions. It really does sound stupid to the outside world.
The best of his talks and probably the one that actually had the most impact on my students was his talk on Independence day with my 5a. He started out this time with what is the most important thing in the world? My students answered: love, life, beauty... Brandon picked up the numb of chalk and wrote, "FREEDOM". He then turned around threw his hands into the air and yelled, "FREEDOM!!!!" My students giggled but didn't know what to do. Gino translated it into Russian very monotone. I then instructed my students in Russian to repeat what Brandon had just said. So, they all said freedom. I then again instructed them to repeat, and this time I participated myself all of us throwing our hands into the air and yelling "FREEDOM!!!" in unison. Then we started repeating it and I told them to be passionate. FREEDOM!!! The boys I was sitting next to pulled out their notebooks and wrote down freedom and the russian translation, if they didn't have a notebook they tore out a piece out of the other kids. They then kept practicing the rest of class and asking me if they were pronouncing it correctly. After the freedom chants were done Brandon said, "All men die, but few truely live." Gino actually translated it. He explained how the British treated us like dirt and how we had to break free from these oppressors of FREEDOM.
At the end of my 5a all the girls asked for "Very Beuatiful Zach" to autograph their notebooks. All the rest of the kids joined in and got autographs too from all the boys. These guys were super stars to my kids. Overall, it was great. I had a great time. The guys had a great time. My students got to learn about American Culture. But for me part of why I wanted those guys to come and talk to my kids was because I wanted them to see an example of great guys. They don't always get that where we live. And judging by my students treating them like rock stars I think they did just exactly what I wanted them to.