Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Eve of Adventure

This post will be quick - I'm leaving for Laos and Cambodia tomorrow!  It's gonna be amazing, but that does mean one more awesome trip that I have to procrastinate posting about.

Meanwhile, let me tell you about Teacher's Day, which was this day two weeks ago that was basically set aside for nothing but fun.  Instead of work and classes, the students and teachers spent the whole day playing games together, like...

musical chairs, 

water balloon toss, 

hula-hoop-and-ball race, 

mango-peeling race, 

and futsal!

The students also put on impressive demonstrations of Tae Kwon Do and Silat, which made me feel very safe in case of an unexpected ninja siege.  The Tae Kwon Do club concluded by breaking several boards, then letting the teachers try one.  


I managed to remember enough about side-kicks to bust it on the second try!

There was also a drama show put on by each form, in which the students good-naturedly made fun of school, the teachers, and themselves, and ended by thanking their teachers for everything.  One of these performances even parodied speech choir, ripping off the script and exaggerating all the movements.  I forgot how much talent and energy high school performances can have, especially when the students are making it all up on their own!

The student band also put on a great performance, managing to pull off "Rock Around the Clock" in the same program as "We Are the World". 

The student emcees then took the opportunity to award cute little plush hearts to pairs of students and teachers who share an uncanny facial resemblance. 

And I got to try out the gamelan:

As teachers, we were inundated with gifts from the students and prizes for the games.  I am now the proud owner of a small washcloth, a cute mug, a notebook, some very short-lived chocolate, and a very respectable glass baking tray.  We ended the day with dinner at a seafood restaurant on the beach, where a huge heap of prizes were awarded to teachers whose names were pulled from a hat.  In reflection, I'm glad I didn't have to bring any more swag home; I'm quite satisfied with my baking tray!

Now to find an oven to use it in...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In which Elise and Caitlin visit KL and Singapore

Wow, so, I just discovered the "Stats" portion of my blogger account, and I gotta say, I'm super flattered that there are people from places like India and the Philippines looking at this thing.  Hi guys!  :-D

I'm posting late now because I just spent the last ten days in a whirlwind of exhausted traveling.  I almost forgot what it's like not to be in sleep-debt.  My awesome college friend Caitlin came to visit from Japan, where she's teaching English with, I kid you not, the "Peppy Kids Club."  She was here for two weekends, the first of which, we went to Singapore for ETA Nou Chang's bachelorette party.  Then we came back to my school for two days while she helped me out with classes, then we spent the rest of the time being tourists in KL.

Singapore was everything we were promised: it was clean, well-organized, full of amazing architecture, and ridiculously easy to get around in via public transportation. 
We saw a live band at a jazz club, traipsed through a great many shiny malls, and partied for Nou at a dizzyingly fancy club shaped like a ship at the top of a hotel.  It served cuisine-style appetizers and featured infinity pools that blended into the Singaporean skyline across the distance.  On the way back down the elevator, I couldn't stop marveling, "Multiple infinity hot tubs.  Multiple.  57th-floor.  Infinity hot tubs."

The only real downsides to Singapore were the prices (rich city = expensive city) and the fact that the swing dancers seemed to be in hiding.  I got very excited about dragging Caitlin and Elizabeth along to a social dance I could have sworn was scheduled for Sunday evening, but when we got there, the studio was just closing because of a national holiday.  Oh well, at least we got some KL dancing in later that week!  Caitlin came and took the beginner lesson, and I practically exploded with happiness from dancing with everyone there.

Between Singapore and KL, though, me and Caitlin made a quick two-day pit stop in Terengganu (far too quick, we later agreed).  I showed her around my school, and she helped out with a few of my classes, and we had dinner with Meg Perry and her turtle researching colleague.  The Chinese food we had was supplemented by the most hilarious menu I've ever seen in real life:

Engrish.com, here we come!

Back in KL, we became tourists extraordinaire.  We saw the Batu Caves, the Bird Park, Chinatown, the Petronas Towers, KL Tower, a small jungle-walk park, and the movie Con Air ("how could I live without you...").  We also spent a dorky amount of time browsing through the bookstores in malls, showing each other videos online, going out dancing with other hostel visitors, and playing cards. 

Sunshine Bedz Hostel, by the way, was fantastic - the manager/owner hung out and joked around with us all the time, and pulled some hilarious pranks on those of us who joked back.

So, that was my week.  Now it's back to plotting, I mean planning programs and activities and hanging out with the kids.  Later this week all the ETAs will be going to KL (again) for a MACEE mid-year enrichment program.  I hope that after this I can settle back down and start fitting in some weekend activities.

Since speech choir finished, I've had a lot of extra time on my hands, and I've also decided that I don't know my students nearly well enough yet.  I've taken to coming to their classrooms during prep time to just hang out and play games with the ones who don't have homework, or to help out the ones who do.  These have been some of the most entertaining times I've had on campus, and I've even invented a game or two on the spot, like Olympic Hangman (competitive team Hangman in two languages).

But, the more comfortable I feel here, the more I still seem to miss home and all of you there.  Yes, I do mean you, reading this blog: I know that if you care enough to check up on me, I care enough to miss you right now.  Please send me an email or a message, and I'll try to call you as soon as I can.