Friday, August 26, 2011

Two weeks in...

Two weeks into the school year now...
As I'm coming to know my students this year, I've learned that they make up the most diverse group I've ever had in my decade of high-school teaching. Here are their countries of origin, starting with the obvious:

     U.S.A. & Mexico...
     and then, in no particular order:
El Salvador
Sierra Leone
Nepal (with Bhutanese parents)
Congo, D.R.(Kinshasa)
Congo, (Brazzaville)
Tanzania (parents from Burundi)
     and if I'm included,
half Korea and half Canada--does that add up to one more country?

...for a grand total of over two dozen countries of origin!

(if you include parental backgrounds...Plus, a handful of students from the Pacific Northwest, which may as well be a different country from Arizona. One of those kids said, about moving here, "I like all the good Mexican restaurants, but I don't know how to pronounce them." Ha! You'll learn, m'ijo, you'll learn...)

The past couple of years I've had exchange students from Belgium and Germany in my classroom, as well as Navajo and Tohono O'odham students, but never have I had a 'grand total' number as large as this year's.

Nepali, Twi, Kirundi, Arabic in the background of my students' brains as they learn French and Spanish conjugations...Tucson has never been more international...and the world's never had a greater number of displaced people, either.

So it's been busy, but all was going well until Tuesday afternoon, when I suddenly felt like the proverbial hit-by-a-truck victim. (Why do we say that, anyway, 'to feel as if one has been hit by a truck?' Doesn't that usually result in death?) A summer cold. Noooooooooooooo!

It's inevitable in Aug/Sept., with the sudden return of kids to enclosed spaces. No amount of antibacterial hand gel can prevent the back-to-school cold season. But it's particularly unpleasant in August in Tucson; the normally soothing therapy of soup ends up feeling more like torture when the temperature outside is ONE HUNDRED EIGHT DEGREES!!! (Even for Tucson, that was a record earlier this week.)

I can't remember the last time an illness came on so suddenly; I'd had a good run in the morning before school, a good day with classes, felt good about after-school planning, drove home in an energetic mood, and then half-an-hour later, as I finally sat on the couch to watch the news--BAM! This early in the school-year, I just CAN'T miss work, so...thank goodness for pseudoephedrine, which gave me just just enough 'control' to be in front of adolescents for several hours a day the past few days. I will admit, though--yesterday, by the end of day, I just couldn't be 'active' any more...So I popped in a DVD for my advanced class. It was a documentary; I'm not a bad teacher, I'm not I'm not I'm not.

And I did have a bit of germ-inspired juvenile vocabulary-fun with my first-year Spanish students. I'd previously showed them how they already know thousands of Spanish words already without realizing it--the magic of COGNATES! (ex. nation--nación, objective--objetivo, etc...) Now, using my cold as the segue--I demonstrated the danger of false cognates...such as: 'constipado.' No, it does not mean that one needs prune juice. It means (in many parts of the Spanish-speaking world, at least) that one has come down with a cold. Perhaps more commonly heard in parts of Latin America is the adjective 'resfriado'...At any rate, I am emerging from my constipado-ness, just in time for the weekend...


  1. Hilarious!! But I'm so sorry about your sudden encounter with The Truck. If you're anything like me, I'd rather die, so the phrase is an apt one.

    Get well. And get a t-shirt that says "Me Likely A Documentary."

  2. Tristan came home from school telling me the names of all the friends he'd made. He got very upset with me when I asked what "she" looked like about one of them. "No, Mom, Karin is a boy!" And Naphtali is not pronounced as in the Bible, but instead 'noff-tall-E' so I asked him the next day how 'Noff-short-E' was today, and of course, he corrected me very indignantly. It's pretty cool that there are so many more cultures around his growing up, I think. I wonder if in the long run it will create more tolerance or more disputes. Hopefully, we won't have enough time to find out.