Friday, May 28, 2010

Endings and Beginnings

An ending -
that was today.
An ending for this little class and the first step into a beginning for one of its members who won't be here to enjoy the last couple of days of school with us.
This morning I began the morning looking to complete the Bible lessons that had been left for my students and in the process, God had a message of encouragement for us as we stand on the brink of this ending and some new beginnings. It was a message delivered by Moses to Joshua who also stood at the end of a long wilderness wandering and the beginning of a new adventure in the Promised Land. "Be strong and courageous...The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:7-8>
The Lord himself goes before you." Perhaps it's the result of the numerous times I've moved, but those words seem to offer comfort on this day of endings and beginnings. So we talked about how we don't have to be afraid because God has already gone ahead and prepared a place for us and I asked each one of the kids who are making a "big" move how they could see that God had already gone ahead of their family and begun working and preparing a place for them. One mentioned that God had prepared a great school for them and they already had a friend at the school. Another mentioned that God had already provided them with a place to stay and the last one talked about how God had given her family the opportunity to spend three days in their new city so now it wouldn't feel so foreign. And I, I brushed my tears away, overwhelmed by the evidence of a God who cares deeply for these children and their families who have been called to this life of transition.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Life in Transition

The end of the school year is quickly approaching and with it comes the departure of many students and families. When you live a life in transition, these goodbyes are never easy and even the youngest students feel the pain of saying goodbye to things that are familiar and the fear of entering into the unknown. After discovering the author, Allen Say, I decided to use his books to talk with my students about the experience of living a life in transition.

Allen Say is a Japanese-American. He was born in Japan and moved to America later in his childhood. Most of his stories are fictionalized accounts of his family's life between two cultures and they have provided my students and I with a lot of fodder for conversations about transition. We have talked about appreciating the good things that we enjoy about each of the countries that we may call "home." We have talked about the feelings we may have as we transition - anything from excitement to fear and confusion and about what we can do to make transition easier.
Today we read How My Parents Learned to Eat which was written by Ina Friedman and illustrated by Allen Say. It is a story about an American sailor who falls in love with a Japanese girl but they never have dinner together because each one is afraid of eating in front of the other. Neither knows how to use the other's eating utensils but they never talk about it. When the sailor receives the news that his ship will be leaving, he decides that it is time to learn to eat with chopsticks so that he can have dinner with his girlfriend. At the same time, his girlfriend seeks the help of her uncle, who spent time in England, for lessons on how to eat with a fork. This leads to a very humourous ending where the girlfriend discovers that the British and the Americans don't use forks in the same way. My kids thoroughly enjoyed this book. One of them responded with a cross-cultural experience of her own which follows.
The first day I was in Niger I was really excited to learn everything they did in their culture. The thing I was most excited about was to learn to eat with my hands. Then I asked my mom if someone could teach me how to eat with my hands. But my mom said no because she said that we weren't going to have their culture even when we lived in Niger because we were leaving back to ________ in 2 years so then I didn't think about it anymore but I'm still wondering how they eat with their hands.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Someone's On a Paper Ration

Recently, my class read The Teddy Bear Tree in which a little girl buys a teddy bear at a rummage sale. The bear is subsequently stolen by a dog who runs off into the forest leaving only it's glass eye behind. The girl decides to plant the eye which sets into motion the growth of the teddy bear tree and many ensuing problems. When we were all finished, I had the kids think about something they could plant and what might grow from it. I got jewelry trees, money trees, phone trees and candy trees and then there was the first grader who wrote:
Hmm, just putting on my pschologist hat here...I think someone's been put on a paper ration.
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