Sunday, August 5, 2018

Jumping Up to High School - The Visible Effects of this Transient Life

 

It was January 2012, I took a picture of my then second graders jumping off the sidewalk.  Then just because it was such a fun picture, I immortalized them in black and white as my blog header. 


In 2015 those second graders graduated from fifth grade and moved up to Middle School.  So just for fun I took another picture, same location, same order.  It was amazing that in such a transient community the core group of this class was pretty much the same.  Three years later and the picture looks much different.


In May of 2018 my friend Anne organized the graduating Eighth Graders for a jump shot in the exact same order.  You can see the group was significantly reduced in number.  Of the group of 9 moving on to middle school, only five remained for the shot.  Four of the students had returned to their home countries - two permanently and two for home assignment with their families.  So in reality out of that core class of 10 that I taught in Second Grade 7 students remain which I would say is still pretty incredible!  Not to mention that they have actually been joined by quite a few more students. 


And here they all are!  The Eighth Grade has adopted a Nigerien cultural practice of dressing up in a uniform to celebrate their graduation.  Nigeriens often do this for special occasions such as wedding celebrations or simply to show their identity as belonging to a certain group. 

One thing that hasn't changed - they are still a great bunch of kids!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A "Welcome Home" Tradition

It seems there is a little "Welcome Home" tradition developing when I return from home assignment.  Upon my return from my last home assignment, I woke up one morning to a flat tire - a little "happy to see you again" gift from my car.  This time I gave myself the gift in a much more dramatic style by running over a six inch pipe sticking out of the ground - a nice pop and "psssssszzzz" as the air fizzled out and all of this in front of a truckload of soldiers.  Oh me, oh my!


The wonderful thing about Niger is that help is just around the corner.  The security guard called the guy on the corner who fixes tires to come and he changed the tire after borrowing a workable jack from one of my friends.  So help came quickly.  Not only that, I now know that I need a new jack and four new tires. So I'm thankful for the wisdom God provides even out of my dumbest moves!

As Seen in the Airport

I sat down on the floor in the Atlanta Airport to stretch my legs out for a bit and watch the world go by.  After a few minutes, along came two older gentlemen who sat down just opposite of me.  One took off and deposited on the seat beside him a very interesting carryon filled with well loved bears. 


As I listened to the conversation, I could tell that each bear had a name.  And then, snack time began.  One of the gentlemen opened a package of cheese and peanut butter crackers and before helping himself, he offered a cracker to each bear, even the small one in the back was not to be overlooked.
After the crackers came a snickers bar which was also offered to each bear before being consumed.  And just in case there were any hungry bears left, they got one more chance at a nibble of a cheese and peanut butter cracker.


Things that make you go "hmm" and surreptitiously take a few photos too!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Fool Me Once...Fool Me Twice...

Back when I was in the Fifth grade my Mom threw me an April Fool's Birthday Party and the crowning moment was the beautifully decorated birthday cake which I cut into and suddenly realized was nothing more than a beautifully decorated cardboard box.  Someone caught me right in the moments after.  It was a pretty spectacular joke!


And apparently, I'm rather susceptible to it.  

My friend Karen, who was at that first birthday party, had told her kids about that cake and they wanted to try their hand at it.  I stood in the kitchen and watched Karen make a cookie cake in a 9X13 pan so I did think it pretty strange that the cake came out in a square but you know maybe it was double stacked!!!  Anyway, here's the video proof of my falling prey to the joke a second time.


Did you hear me say, "How do I approach this? (referring to the cutting of the cake) I don't know what's under here."  Oh, the irony! 

My take away from this is that... 

1. I have some awesome people in my life who always help me celebrate the life that God has given me in fun ways and

2.  I'm never going to trust another birthday cake that doesn't come out with chocolate icing on it!  And especially not if it's pink...don't mind me while I stab this thing to see if it's real. :)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My Grandmother and the Chocolate Pie

Since I have no teaching stories to share this year, I thought it would be fun to share a gem of a story that we ran across while reading some letters to my Grandmother, who was a teacher in a one room schoolhouse in West Virginia.  This story came in the form of a letter from one of her students.

Dear May,

In this world of growing up and going to school I am sure everyone has memories to treasure.  Some are fond and some not so fond.  Some are funny and others not so funny.  I have one that hinges between funny and disastrous. 

This little bit of memorabilia happened at High Rock School on Kesner Mountain.  I, being a growing boy and having an appetite like a horse, became hungry well before lunch time.  Knowing there was a fresh slice of chocolate pie in the top drawer of my lunch pail temptation got the best of me and I proceeded to remove it in preparation of an early snack.

No sooner had I secured it from my pail then I noticed my school teacher, namely May Kesner, proceeding my way.  In desperation, I put the slice of pie on the top of the school bench behind me.  By that time May had arrived and proceeded to park her backside smack dab on top of my pie. 
Needless to say, my slice of chocolate pie had become squashed and glued to the backside of her skirt.  After a few kind words to me stating that I had been a bit noisy, she walked back up front to her desk.  As she made her way back to her desk the chocolate pie was depositing itself on the floor in spatters.  Everyone in school was bursting a the seams with laughter - except May and I, who was scared half to death.  After our teacher asking numerous students what was so funny and receiving no answer, she finally gave us all two minutes to laugh at the end of which time total silence was demanded.  We didn't waste a second of it! 

Well, May, if you can forgive me for messing up your skirt, I can stand the loss of a delicious slice of chocolate pie.

From your friend,
Norman

Monday, October 30, 2017

Last Day of School

It doesn't matter what country you live in the last days of school are always filled with incredibly meaningful activities such as:

 
Seeing how many people you can fit on the same chair


Until everyone falls down in a big heap

 
Making silly faces
 
 
And making them with your teacher too!
 

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Fly Tree

Chalk this one up under weird things.  One day I was walking along the sidewalk by my old classroom and heard this incredible buzzing sound.  Turns out there were hundreds of flies gathered on the tree beside the sidewalk.  I've never seen such a phenomenon before and I'm not quite sure what would cause them to gather like that but there they were.





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