Friday, December 28, 2012

End Transmission.

So this is it.
It's been a year.
Can you believe it? One whole year. 

I'm leaving.

I'm leaving all this. 
I'm leaving all them.
As much as I would love to stay, I know that it's time for me to move. I have a life back in America that I need to get back to. It's time. 
But I will miss this, so, so terribly. It has been such an incredible journey and experience, and I would not trade it for anything in the world. 
Thank you. I loved it all. 

Shoot Me in the Face, it's Christmastime.

At Berhan, because it's an American English school, we celebrate American holidays. (I may have mentioned that already.) And, at Berhan, we do one crazy-big holiday per year. Sometimes, it's Halloween that's crazy big, and sometimes, it's Christmas that's crazy big. 
This year, it was Christmas. Christmas was crazy big. 
And by "crazy big," I mean there was dancing, there was a play, there was script-writing, there was performing, there were costumes, there were multiple parties, there were presents, there were movies, there were last minute rehearsals, and of course there were tears of frustration, glee, and delusional tiredness.
It was crazy big.
(These are just half the students. The back half. Where my students were sitting. I'm a bit biased.)
With Santa.
And Mrs. Claus.
And elves.
And a Christmas tree.
And Frosty. 
And a snowflake. 
And the Grinch.
And presents. Did I mention that? Lots and lots of presents.

The entire school (or just about) put on a Christmas play. All English classes (or just about) were required to participate. 
Like, seriously, required. Like, "you're singing a song, and wearing a costume, or so help me" kind of required. My first graders took the whole thing in stride (the cuties), and my fifth graders considered themselves lucky that they were "sleeping" half the time they were on the stage. Easiest performance of their lives, right? I should think so.
Aren't they just so precious? Those are my kids. Mine

Well, that Saturday was completely exhausting. Not to mention that I had to frolic around in an elf costume that who knows how many other teachers have worn (ew). The kids must be used to seeing teachers walk around in Christmas colored tights and tunics, because they didn't even blink an eye when they saw me all dolled up. Like I have any dignity left, anyway.

After the Christmas play, there were pictures.
Duh, obviously. 

Don't mind their facial expressions. They really are awesome.

This was the last time that I got to see all my students before I leave for America. 
These kids are my favorite.

The Best Day of the Year

So kids here are in school, like, all the time. They go to their elementary schools in the mornings/afternoons, and they go to their cram schools in the afternoons/evenings. It's work, work, work, all the time. These poor kids never really get a break.
Except for their "Racing Day." 
 The Racing Day is a party day. They play games, eat food, have relays, chat with friends, and--most importantly--they race. Anyone can come and watch the races, too. So, because I don't have classes in the mornings, I went to the closest Elementary school where most of my students (and my cousins) went to school, and I watched them race. 
Not only did I get to see my cousins race (and they both did amazingly well), but I also got to see a number of my students race, as well. It was so fun seeing them, and they were all so excited to see me. ("It's Miss RAYNE! Raynebow! Hi Raynebow! Did you see me race??")
They were all just tickled pink to have a day off of actual school work that they would have been happy about anything.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


So a few weeks back, we took a trip up to Taipei. 

Going to Taipei is like going to San Francisco (at least for me). It's far enough away to not have it be a regular thing, but day trips up there are easy-peasy. Weekend trips are even easier. 
This was just a day trip, though.
 My last time in Taipei while I'm here. Definitely bittersweet.

This trip wasn't for the 101 specifically, although inevitably that's where a trip to Taipei always ends up. We went here:

 LDS Taipei, Taiwan Temple. Down a little side street right in the middle of Taipei. Beautiful. It's architecture has has actually won an award here, so I've been told. 

Isn't it just so brilliantly adorable?
 Whilst there, however, I spent most of my time watching other people's children. (Like I don't get enough of that already, right?) But really, I wouldn't have had it any other way. Kids are growing on me, especially the ones here. 

After we frolicked around the temple, we had extra time (thanks to weather, the traffic was practically nonexistent--by Taiwanese standards, anyway), so we decided to take a quick trip to 101. Because, as I said, that's what people do.
All around and about the 101, there are things to do. Most everyone went to find something to eat. I went to the shopping mall across the street. 
I'm sorry, but shopping is seriously one of the most therapeutic things for me. (I don't even have to buy anything for it to work it's wonders. Let me just point that out right now.) And I hadn't done any real shopping in so long. 
So it was pretty fulfilling, and I was in an all around incredible mood by the time I was supposed to meet the others to wait for the bus. 

And, I mean, it's Taipei. It's pretty spectacular.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Day in the Life.

Sometimes, I get complaints that I don't update this good blog enough. I try to explain that my life really isn't that cool, that most of the time I'm so busy teaching and working on projects, etc., that I don't have time to go on adventures. But then I get told to "find the adventure in your daily LIFE, Rayne." 

Well, alright? 

So this post is probably going to be kind of boring. So you can skip it if you want. But this is what I do. Every day.

You ready?

I don't have classes in the mornings, but sleeping in on days that aren't weekends annoy me. I tend to get up at the absolute crack of dawn for two reasons: 1) no one else is up, and 2) it's cooler before the sun comes out. When you live on a tropical island, different things become important to you.
So, anyway. I wake up, and I do something that makes me sweat. Like running.
 I try to go before the sun comes out. But sometimes, stuff happens. Clearly, I woke up late. Dangit.

After running/yoga/weight lifting/whatever I feel like doing, thank you very much, I shower (duh). 
In here:
Glamorous, right? It's like I live in a dorm, or something. Classy.

And then, probably one of my absolute favorite parts of the day: Hallelujah BREAKFAST.
Normally, breakfast is cereal--because I could happily eat cereal for every meal until the day I keel over dead. But I'm out of cereal, which is a tragedy. And buying cereal anywhere but Costco is something only crazies do, because the boxes that last any regular person three days cost at least 6 bucks here. So. Today is pancakes. Which, you know, are delicious, too.
 Eating in the kitchen is for weirdos that have time on their hands. I take whatever my breakfast happens to be into my bed/workspace.
To get stuff done
Like, planning lessons. Or organizing a yearly plan of verbal activities for elementary level kids. Or writing and editing Christmas play scripts. Or creating writing curricula. Or choreographing a song my first graders have to sing and perform. Or grading and filling out report cards. You know. 
Stuff teachers do. 

So. That takes up my morning life. And then I implement all that stuff in the afternoon.

The first kids I teach are my first graders. It's pretty much standard procedure that a standard greeting from certain kids in my class consists of wrapping themselves around my waist and legs. 
Yes. It's adorable.

Look at them. Working. They're just the best.

Two and a half hours of that, and then I do the same thing with my fifth graders.
Writing and reading comprehension are probably their least favorite things to do ever
Consequently, we do them a lot.

My fifth graders and I have this understanding: we never acknowledge that we like each other in public. But outside of class, it's cool to hang out and talk. Which happens a lot. And totally makes it all worth it. 

Two classes down, one to go. During the ten minute break I have between my fifth graders and my high schoolers, I cook some sort of semblance of a meal.
My high schoolers get to watch me stuff my face every class period, but they don't seem to mind. We tend to hang out a lot in this class, anyway. They are in high school, after all. 
Yup. Just. You know. Hangin' out. 

Then, finally, at 9 pm, my day is done. I can do whatever I want for the rest of the time. During the week, my bed usually calls to me. When it's Friday, however, this usually happens:
Friday = pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Everyone knows this.

And then, sometimes, I think it's an awesome idea to make and bake my own cold cereal at 2 in the morning. Because I'm a freak, mostly. 
Mock if you will, but that stuff is to-die-for delicious. 

Also, a bit time-consuming. So I may be a bit of a zombie on Saturday. 
Uhm, worth it. 


Friday, October 26, 2012

This Is Halloween

Yeah, we know it's an American holiday, okay? 

But we're an American English school. And America has become such a world culture that even the Wal-Mart-like grocery stores here sell Halloween costumes at this time of year.
And, I mean the kids, love it. But who wouldn't, really? Dressing up and getting free candy? Shoot, I'm 23, and I'd still rather go trick-or-treating in a costume than just about anything else.

And that's pretty much what I did for the entire morning of our Halloween party.
Was I planning on it, though? Nope.

I don't teach in the mornings, so I assumed I would only be needed during the afternoon Halloween shenanniganery. But, an hour before everything started in the morning, I was told that all teachers were expected to be ready at 8:30, bright eyed and bushy tailed, in their costumes, for pictures. 
(I live in Taiwan. Pictures are like a big deal. You don't even know.) 
So. Yeah, okay. I was there at 8:30, in my costume, ready for pictures. 

Pose, pose, pose. Action shots. A couple with all the kids. More action shots. Jump up in the air. We did it all. Just to be safe.
Then, because I still had stuff to prepare for my afternoon Halloween activity, I was just about to sneak back up the stairs when Frances (my aunt and owner of the school) goes, "Rayne, you're staying to help rotate the kids, and take them trick-or-treating, right?" 

When Frances asks you a question, there are two possible answers you can give her: "yes," and "don't worry, I've already taken care of that; anything else you want me to do?"
Only one of those answers could be properly applied in my situation. 
"Yes," I said. "I am." Props to me for not even blinking an eyelid.

So. That's what I did. And, of course it was a total blast taking all the little young'uns around the school and "neighborhood" (one other building outside of the school), practicing "trick or treat, I like sweets, give me something good to eat!" with them, and holding their hands when they were scared of whoever was going to jump out at them from behind the door to give them candy. 
Plus, I got to hang out with this dinosaur. So, you know, that made my morning.

After the morning extravagances, I spent a frantic lunch break cutting out 63 (SIXTY-THREE) "make your own skeleton" pieces for my afternoon classes. (My roommates were lifesavers here: "Rayne, do you have any more we can cut? Here, lemme just cut these downstairs, I'll bring them into you when I'm done.")

And then I had to, you know, teach.
So, that was exhausting.
My favorite part of the afternoon, however, was getting to teach MY OWN class (we rotated classes, so all kids got to do the same activities). I never realize how much I miss my own classes until I'm not teaching them. They came in to make skeletons with me for twenty-five minutes, and it just made me happy. 
And, of course, because it was Halloween, I had to take pictures of them all. 
I said, "Smile! I wanna take your picture!" And these are the reactions I received:
Kid-gushing is embarrassing for me and annoying for you, so I'm not gonna do it. I'm just gonna say I love these kids. That's all. 

Morning, and afternoon? Check. But don't worry, I still had two more evening classes. That's right. A 9 and a half hour teaching day, looking like this:
Because, of course, costumes are mandatory. 
My first graders loved my costume. My fifth graders probably did, too, but of course they hide their overall love for me underneath a veil of annoying, can-I-please-just-slap-you, teasing and mockery. (That's okay, though. I still think they rock.)

So. You know. Happy Halloween.