Friday, September 21, 2012

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Last weekend, we had some staff from the home office (in Mississippi!) visit us here in KL. Dennis is the VP of the organization and Susan works in the recruitment and hiring office. Since our school is brand new, we're expecting it to grow exponentially. As such, Susan wanted some information and a feel for KL to be able to pass on to future recruits. We (the Coopers and I) decided the best way to see the city was on the Hop On, Hop Off tour. You pay 38 Ringgit (US $13) and get a ticket for 24-hour access to the buses. They take you around the city to 23 different stops and if it looks like something that interests you, you can Hop Off. Whenever you're done exploring, you just Hop On the next bus that comes by! It provides a very cumulative view of the capital city and provides some history and information along the way. It's not for the faint of heart, though, because the bus ride itself (without getting off at any stops) is 2.5 hours! With only taking about 1/2 of the stops, it took us a solid six or so hours!

The tour itself is fun, but since we like to go above and beyond in the fun department, the Coopers had the grand idea to make a movie about our day. Clay has the iMovie app on his iPad and learned that trailers are quite fun and easy to make. Since we were going to be hopping all over the hot spots of the city, we decided to go with a Carmen Sandiego theme. For those of you not fortunate to understand what that means, I mourn your lack of childhood. For the rest of you, you can understand how torturous my day was with a single line of  the "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" theme song on repeat in my head for over six hours. :)

I'm not sure I'll get hired back for the actual movie that is supposed to follow this trailer. It's very hard to keep from laughing when you're dodging in and out of short Asian tourists.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Let's Go to the Movies!

Malaysia does have some downfalls, but overall it's a pretty spectacular place to live. It has many attributes and advances of a modern culture, but people aren't consumed in it and life isn't solely focused on being bigger and better. As a result, the cost of living is pretty low, which works out nicely given my profession. :)

A perfect example of what I'm getting at can be found in the cinemas. Let me explain...

*We're advanced enough to have theaters. The theaters are on par with the ones in the states. They have big cushy chairs, big screens, surround sound, IMAX, 3D, air conditioning, etc... In fact, in the two months that I've been here, the movie theater is the only place I've found so far where it's cold enough for a sweatshirt!

*We're advanced enough to show the big Hollywood releases at the same time (or 12 hours before due to time zones!!) as the USA. Since I've been here I've seen The Amazing Spiderman 3D and The Bourne Legacy in theaters. There were others that I've wanted to see, but time got away from me and they were out of theaters before I got around to it!

*We're advanced enough to serve popcorn, nachos, hot dogs and regular movie theater snacks. This is a major plus. There are not a lot of places where you can find "American" snacks. And not only do they make them, but they make them GOOD! Instead of selling popcorn that instantly clogs your arteries and is so drenched in butter you almost have to drink it, they make a caramel-y popcorn with a hint of salty. It's SO yummy!

*It doesn't cost you your first born child to see a movie and get snacks. I got a movie ticket (with assigned seats so you don't have to elbow your way through the crowds or show up 45 minutes early), a large drink, and a large popcorn for $7 US total. Which, if my memory serves me correctly, is approximately the price of one small popcorn in the states. Also, I got a cool Thor popcorn bucket to add to my collection. Double bonus? :)

*Malaysians care more about function than fashion. We saw Spiderman 3D. It was an enjoyable movie. It was made more enjoyable by the fact that we were laughing through the entire thing because the 3D glasses reminded us more of snorkel masks than glasses. Haha! They were huge! But they worked!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Start of Something New

 September 3, 2012 marked the opening day of Northstar Learning Center in Malaysia! It was a day full of joy and happiness. Many of the families with students attending our school have been waiting and praying for this school to open for around 3 years! It was such a privilege to be able to be a part of it and feel the support and love from everyone.

Our director was kind enough to make the first day a half day and it was such a blessing. First days of school are always quite awkward since the students are still half-asleep, shy, nervous, and uncertain of how this year is going to go. Although we ended our day at noon, I was still EXHAUSTED by the end because I wasn't been able to sleep well the night before due to nerves and excitement, and 5- and 6-year-olds suck the energy right out of you!
1st Day of School Class Picture!
It was quite a drastic change going from twenty-six 4th graders to five K-2nd graders. I could tell from day one that I was going to have a fantastic, but challenging year. Most of the students at our school have been home-schooled for their whole educational career, so we're starting at square one with school etiquette. Also, even though I only have 5 students, they range from very beginning Kindergarten reading to advanced 2nd grade! Similar ranges in Math. That's a lot of planning!

When we brought the kids down to the cafeteria for dismissal, we were greeted by balloons, posters, snacks, gift bags, and all of the parents. It was quite incredible... and quite different from any of my past teaching years where parent involvement was not the greatest. Two weeks in and we still see and hear from the parents often and it's wonderful!
Rice Krispy Treats and Muffins? They tasted even better than usual since baked goods are so few and far between here!

It's still tough waking up before the sun every morning, but working at such a marvelous place, with such magnificent people definitely makes me one happy girl!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes

School is going full swing and it's amazing! It's been ridiculously busy due to some unforeseen circumstances and just the start of a school year in general, but it's great. It's quite the adjustment moving down to Kindergarten/1st Grade from 4th grade. These kids are SO little and need to be constantly entertained! Their assignments take them approximately 5 minutes and then they're moving on to something else! Not a big deal when we've gotten into a centers routine, but for now it's exhausting!!
However, a major perk is that my kids are hilarious. Now, my kids in previous years have been funny also (see all the posts from the past 3 years!), but these kids are so innocently hilarious that I can't help but smile all day.
Case in point, the conversation I got the opportunity to take part in today... We had just come in from recess and we were sitting in a circle on the carpet. One of my boys, I'll call him E, (the tiniest kid in my class, but has the facial expressions/demeanors of a 25-year-old) raised his hand. I called on him and it all began.
E: "Can I tell the whole class something? It's not funny, but they're all going to laugh and that's ok."
Me: "Ok. Go ahead."
E: "I'm really sad because I've just been trying to get a girlfriend for so many years." (Author's note: He's 5.)
Me: "Don't be sad. Girls are trouble."
E: "They're not trouble for me. I just really want a girlfriend."
Classmate #1: "Sometimes girlfriends will be cutting potatoes and scream like she cut her finger. Then the boy rushes in to help her and she was just joking."
Me: "Yeah, girls can be tricky."
E: "That's ok."
Classmate #2: "And sometimes girls want you to buy them clothes and jewelry and they will use all your money.
E: "I don't care. I can empty my bank account on her!" (Again, he's FIVE!)
Classmate #3: "Sometimes girlfriends slap their boyfriends." (Ok??)
E: "I don't care. She can do anything she wants to me and have all of my money. I just really want a girlfriend."

Haha. He kept the most serious, 'feel sorry for me' face the entire time this was happening. If it wasn't so funny and he wasn't 5-years-old, I might have felt sorry for him. Turns out he has a crush on a 3rd grader and when he saw her at recess it brought over him a flood of emotions. This is the same kid who wrote that God was his best friend on the "All About Me" survey I sent home, so I told him to pray about it. Haha. How's that for a teacher solution? (Found out later that he primarily wrote that answer because "We're learning about God in school, so I wrote that down because I thought my teacher would like it." Haha!)

I LOVE them! Situations like this happen all throughout my day and keep me on my toes. It's so refreshing to know that despite all the other crazy drama happening all around, these little guys are still able to worry about girlfriends and best friends.

More to come on school later, hopefully this weekend when I have some time to breathe. Sorry for the scarcity of posts lately!