Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Holidays and a little teaching update

I arrived in Honolulu last night after 27 hours of traveling for a lovely 2-week holiday.  I am already in heaven soaking up some sunshine and warm weather!  It's been an amazing year and I am still in awe at the amazing things I have seen and experienced this year.  I truly believe that life is what you make of it, and I am grateful that each day, I get to do exactly what I enjoy doing.  My life has been changed forever by the things I have seen and done, and if anything, these experiences just make me want to do more and more.  So, what's ahead for 2012?  Hard to say for certain - first I have a trip to Spain and Portugal in February and tentative plans for travel to the UK, Ireland, Greece, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Slovenia (at least for now).  I'll likely be moving on in 2012 from Prague, but where to?  I'm looking at options in Asia and we'll see where I end up.  :)

A few weeks ago, we were asked to photograph all of our classes so that class pictures could be sent to all the parents.  So, I thought I'd post them here so you can see the fun (and often crazy) crew of children I work with each week.

But first before pictures - my two favorite teaching stories from this fall.  About a month into the school year, I was teaching my Friday afternoon class and there is a boy in class who speaks English very well.  The class is of first and second grade kids who generally are just starting to learn English, and this boy can translate everything I say.  So, I asked him if he spoke English at home.  He replied, "Well, yes.  And sometimes in the car too."  Fantastic Lucas!  ;)

The other happened just a week or so ago.  I went to teach my favorite class.  I know there shouldn't be favorites, but they are awesome.  They are the class that won the English contest in Prague last year (see a blog about them and their winning video in April of last year).  I always enjoy teaching this class.  I was walking towards the class and one kid saw me, said hello and grinned.  Then he ran into the class and very loudly announced to the class I was coming and there were screams of excitement.  Now I feel like a rock star.  But that's not the best part.  I walk in and start getting ready for class before the bell rings and a girl, Marketa comes up to me and says perfectly, "Suzanne, What is correct? 8 plus 5 is 12 or 8 plus 5 are 12?" I was shocked by her amazing English skills (seriously they can barely say Yes it is or It's a blue pen) and while I knew 8 plus 5 is 13, I said with a smile, "Marketa, 8 plus 5 is 12 is correct."  She grinned and giggled and said, "Suzanne 8 plus 5 is 13!"  Not only was she telling me a joke in English, but she told a Math joke - life is good.  :)

Buresova Grade 3:
Front: Peter, Frantisek, Agata, Adela, Marie, Anicka, Adela, Adam
Back: Anicka, Emma, Voijtech, Simon, Marketa, Pavla, Voijtech, Oliver

Buresova Grade 2.A:
Front: Bara, Anicka, Milan, Tomas, Kuba, Anicka, Vera
Back: Lexie, Dominick, Kuba, Nati, Tomas, Tereza, Lucas, Nati, Marek, Lucie, Dan, Bara, Dennis

Kindergarten: Semi, Jost, Katka, Vera, Vali, Evelina, Sara

Buresova Grade 5:
Front: Lucie, Martina, Honza, Misa, Fina, Bara, Adela, Helca
Back: Eliska, Misa, Martin, Robin, Voijtech, Adam, Vit, Denisa, Sara

Front: Kaya, Kuba, Stepanka, Vendulka
Back: Milenka, Valeria, David, Kristyna

Second Graders: Kuba, Sam, Vasek

First Graders: Adela, Vasek, David, Adam, Eliska

Kindergarten: Stepan and Bety

Buresova Grade 1: Misa, Laura, David, Voijtech, Kaya, Villik, Jana, Nicole, Katka, Vera, Linda, Kristyna, Monica, Lucas,
Pepa, Tereza, Stana, Kaya

My favorite class: Buresova Grade 2.B:
Front: Misa, Mirek, David, Milan, Hanicka, Mila, Tonda
Back: Justina, Misa, Vionka, Eliska, Tereza, Marketa, Tomas, Bety, Eda, Honza,  Petr, Adam,
Dominck, Misa, Ondra

Grade 3: Miki, Kaja, Voijtech, Eliska, Marek, Martin

Buresova Grade 4: Tereza, Johnny, Sam, Tereza, Matej, Honza, Anicka, Ondra, Misa, Kuba, Filip,
Honza, Marek, Marek, Matej, Johanna

Kindergarten (age 3-4)
Front: Bety, Honza, Eliska, Katka
Back: Filip, Maura, Klarka, Kuba, Oscar

Kindergarten age 3-4: Honza, Filip, Tomas, Nicholas, Lucie, Sara, Pavel, Stepan, Filip

Kindergarten age 4-5: Zuzka, Zuzka, Matej, Vera, Jirka, Risa, Max, Anicka, Dora, Elen, Denisa, Thomas

Grade 3: Anika, Adela, Vanda, Hana

Grade 2: Verca, Alice, Tereza, Sima, Lucie

Grade 1: Kaya, Kiki, Bara, Jiri, Ondra, Kuba

Grade 1, Front: Katka, Honza, Lucie, Tonda, Jiri
Back: David, Marek, Matej, Lada, Honza

Kindergarten age 4-5: Front: Filip, Honza, Vasek, Ivan, Vali, Matej
Back: Lucie, Anicka, Vera, Arthur, Matej, Zuzka, Lucie, Filip

Kindergarten: my wildest class - can you tell?
Front: Voijetch, Tomas, Tomas, Dan
Back: Jenda, Zuzka, Dominika, Kamil, Marek, Amalka

Grades 1 and 2: Matej, Tomas, Adam, Lucas, Kuba, Adam, Emma, Marie

These girls had so much fun taking pictures, that we took 3!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp

A week after visiting Dachau, we made our way to Krakow, Poland and spent an afternoon at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.  Perhaps the most famous of the camps, this experience was even more powerful than Dachau.  First, Auschwitz-Birkenau is much, much larger and the scale of things is therefore even more real.  Additionally, many of the items the Jewish people brought with them were found after the camp was seized.  The curators of the Auschwitz museum have turned these personal items into an incredible museum.  Seeing these items (suitcases, shoes, glasses seen below) brings a human connection to the experience and gives you a visual perspective on the vast numbers of people killed at the concentration camps.  Perhaps the most harrowing part was viewing a room (yes a large room) full from floor to about 3 feet high of human hair.  This was not allowed to be photographed out of respect to those who died.  Again, I leave this mostly uncommented as the pictures do speak for themselves.

Gas Canisters from Gas Chamber

Kitchen items brought by Jewish people

Guard stand where morning roll call occurred.

Gas Chamber

Birkenau Camp - this is where the majority of people lived and died and is a few kilometers from the main camp Auschwitz.

The living conditions were much more sparse here.

There were often 2-3 people in each bed as there wasn't enough space for everyone.

Entrance gate