Friday, November 4, 2011

Why I Love My Life

So I realize it's been over a month since the last post, and things have changed.  Quick update:

1. Declined the DC Teaching Fellows offer.  Things are too good with my current position (more on this below), and the timing just wasn't right.  They won't defer, but I can reapply, and [probably] be accepted again for the Fall 2012 Corps.

2. Received (and took) a final interview with Teach For America, which I felt good about.  My 5-minute lesson went very well, as did the personal interview. (I got to talk a lot about my work at Prospect Park, which, again, I love--see below). I will know the results on November 8 (eeeek)!!!!  [Side note: I passed the Spanish test, which would qualify me to teach in a bilingual classroom, or to teach Spanish as a foreign language, if accepted.]

Okay.  So, there you go.

Now, back to what I wanted to post about:  PROSPECT PARK.

Prospect Park is the new love of my life.  At Prospect Park, I teach a pre-school class in the morning, lead an Interactive Literacy Activity with the children and their parents (who are in English classes while we are hanging out in the Early Childhood Ed room), and in the afternoon, I teach a small group of low-beginner Adult-ESL students.  We have a few immigrants, but most of our students are refugees--mostly from Bhutan and Burma, though there are other countries represented as well.  My colleagues and I teach out of three apartments in an area with a high concentration of refugees.  They (and my supervisor) are awesome, our students are awesome, and it is a fantastic place to be.

This, for example, is the Early Childhood Education (ECE) room.  The murals were lovingly painted on the wall by my predecessor.  The kiddos always love playing in the kitchen--they probably make me an average of 3 birthday cakes every day! 

Want to see more?  Let's take a tour: 

This is the book corner.  The kiddos like to crawl back there for peek-a-boo, to cuddle, or to "read" stories to each other.  

Here's our snack / coloring table. It's in the opposite corner of the book nook (above), in the back area of the ECE room.   You can see into the (real) kitchen--and just to the right of where the picture ends is where the play kitchen (first picture above) is found. 

 This is the story corner--on the opposite side of the room as the play kitchen.  We (mostly unsuccessfully) try to get the tiny humans to sit here in the bean bags or in our laps while we read stories, and then sing songs.  The kiddos get to choose their favorite songs by pointing on the wall.  (Right now, the favorites are "Old Mac Donald", "Twinkle, Twinkle", and "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes", with the Alphabet Song close behind.)  For most of them, English is not the language that is spoken in the home, so it is great to hear them sing these songs!  They love it so much, and it warms my heart.  

This is the wall adjacent to our front door.  Below the mural we have blocks and other toys, but I really just wanted to show the mural.  

I'd love to show you pictures of the adorable children, but this is not the place.  I'll just tell you that they are so loving, and they fill my heart every day.  I love how they sit on my lap (three, four at a time!), play "doctor" as they give me shots of who-knows-what straight into my brain (dubious medical practices, maybe, but they're very attentive!), play and share with one another, and just how they interact with the world around them.  I also love when they speak to me in their own languages--even though I have no idea what they are saying (though, mostly, they are very good about making themselves understood).  

Our relationships with the students are very special--they invite us into their homes quite often, and we have a great time learning about their culture.  This is me after having been "tikka'ed" at a Nepali festival called Dashain.  On my forehead is a mixture of rice and yogurt (I think), dyed red.  I received a blessing, sung to me by the eldest member of the household, and some "culture" ($5, which the family insisted I take. "It's not really money, it's blessings. Culture! Culture!"), along with lots of yummy food.  

Yes, I love Prospect Park.  Are you jealous?  You should be.