22 November 2012

What are you thankful for?

Well it’s a holiday weekend!  I know I am in Bahrain but we still have this weekend off.  Granted I am working on Thanksgiving day (parent conferences at least, no students) but I still have a 4 day weekend.  Ours is for the Ashoora. This weekend is, as my department chair described it me, a “very sad holiday.”  Where I come from the word “holiday” means a time to celebrate, so having a time of mourning as a holiday seems a little odd to me. 

Also if you feel as if I’ve had a lot of time off lately (6 day weekend at the end of October, three day weekend last weekend, 4 day weekend this weekend) it is because we celebrate all Muslim Holidays, Shi’ite and Sunni.  The Ashoora is a traditional Shi’ite Holiday, Sunni’s may or may not celebrate.  Since we are a Shi’ite majority (with a Sunni Government) I find it interesting that we recognize both holidays.  Not sure which should be chosen if we only recognized one set, but I find it interesting.  I also find it interesting that only one of my students recognized this holiday in class. 

This student who recognizes Ashoora is a Shi’ite.  She told me this very quietly, not sure if this how it is done, or if she was embarrassed.  I ask her a lot of questions, so I hope I am not offending her.  During Eid she did Hajj, which is the trip to Mecca.  She was telling me a story about Ashoora, how the whole family was killed to prove faith in God, and she said “Miss you can google it, it is true.”  This statement to me is wrong on so many levels, not the faith part but the fact that she believes it happened just that way, and to prove it to me she is going to show it to me on the internet.  Off topic…anways…This student, Fatima, has been a great guide into traditional Muslim culture.  Her class is pretty non-traditional, they have long curly hair, and talk about risqué things like crude humor and kissing.  I find it refreshing that she can hold on to her faith while her friends are all testing their boundaries.  I worry about her though, because she is limited to her view point.  Her parents are not allowing her to travel outside of Bahrain for college because they do not want her too far from home.  I always worry when parents restrict students’ capabilities due to fear, Muslim or not. 

The past paragraph may have been the most negative I’ve sounded lately.  I’m trying to be happy.  I’m trying to find the good in all, and to see positives.  My friends who are having boy problems may completely disagree with this fact because I am very blunt with them but all in all, I’m trying to find realistic happiness.  I was explaining to Jay what happens in a parent conference when you have 20-30 in one day.  He asked “how do you stay so happy and positive for each new parent?”  I thought about it and really, it doesn’t feel any different than any other day.  You cannot let one class, or one student impact your behavior or attitude towards another class or student. Each time you switch gears to another student or a new class walks in you have to act like this is the beginning and a clean slate for your day.  I am really great at this, however I blow at remembering this in my personal life.  I blame my Mom for this.  She was the only person I could argue with, and it’s funny how much you miss being able to have a fight with someone and know that they will still love you at the end of it.  I could be as mean to her as all get out, she was still my Mom and had to love me.  Now I was also a teenager when she died so we were at the height of yelling and screaming, but it’s strange to go from having that, to not.  However, once I get comfortable with someone, they start to see the “less impressive” me.  I cannot be on 100% of the time, and the people that surround me, that I know love me, suffer from this, I know. 

So why am I telling all about Farfoora and her spirit?  Why mention the Ashoora Holiday? And parent conferences, my Mom and being “on”?   Because I am thankful.

I am thankful for having time off.  While I stress about if I will finish material with students, or if they will remember anything, I do feel refreshed because we have time off. 

I am thankful that my parents brought me up to be strong and test boundaries.  I was never limited to where I could go or what I could do (physically or mentally).  Even coming to Bahrain at 28, I know that they were scared, and sad to see me go, I also know that they love me enough to let me  take the adventure I need.

I am thankful for my traditional students for teaching me about their religion and culture.  I feel I have grown in my acceptance because some (see Eid post) are explaining why things, are the way they are.

I am thankful for my non-traditional students for pushing their boundaries and for seeing what the world has at their feet, yet still being very respectful of their culture, family and faith, which I feel is lacking in America.  
I am thankful for the parents of my students.  My conferences are going very well because the parents are involved and my students are amazing.  I have been told very complimentary things by parents and students.  It is an honor to work them.

I am thankful for Eileen Hartwell who encouraged me to move abroad and calmed my fears that my teaching would be “different.”  My students like my “different” just like she said. 

I am thankful for my Lakewood Montessori family, especially Sheldon, Meg and Katy for our round table discussions that I miss, but what were gave me the confidence to know I could teach, and do professional development and be a great, in all senses of the word, educator.  They did this through their modeling.  I miss the Lakewood family everyday when I do celebrations with my class, when I calmly ask a student why they made a bad life decision, instead of yelling at them, and when I see everyone’s fun updates on facebook and gchat.  Thank you to Susie, Beth, Laine, Lindsay, Josh, Betsy and Liz for keeping me in the Lakewood Loop.

I am thankful for my colleagues that I have met here at Bayan.  They became my instant family.  We have great bus rides, fun walks and quality sofa time.  It is important that we understand, support and believe in each other because we are each other’s family here.  I am so grateful that the people that I am surrounded by are ones that I do understand, support and believe in.

I am thankful for American Thanksgiving in Bahrain tomorrow. Although it is a day late, it will be just as yummy…maybe…I’m in charge of the turkey…in a little itty bitty oven…that only gets to about 150C, even though it says 250C. 

I am thankful that my friends will understand if my turkey sucks. 

I am thankful that KFC delivers 24 hours a day so I can buy chicken if my turkey does suck. 

I am thankful that my friend Joe is back in the states with his family for Thanksgiving, after serving in Afghanistan since April.

I am thankful for the people in my life that are serving, or have served.

I am thankful for my family back home and I am praying for those that have lost some recently.  My cousins Lindsey, Haley and Chip lost their Mom this week after losing their Dad last year.  I’m thankful that Keresa is not in pain anymore, but I’m aching over my cousins’ loss.  My Aunt Kathy also lost her nephew this week, when he died after fighting a fire.  I’m thankful for his heroics, and praying for his young family and their strength to carry on. 

I am thankful for my “daughter” Leah and that we were able to provide support to each other.  I glad she understands my “tough” love. 

I am thankful for my mom, who had me experience good and bad regarding life, so that I can celebrate the good times, and support the bad times.  Without this, I would never have been strong enough to be with Leah, and share so much with her. I am very excited to celebrate all of the good that she is doing too!

I am thankful that I am able to come home at Christmas.  I will spend time with Minnesota family and North Carolina family.  I am so lucky to be able to be afforded the time off, the money and health to travel.

I am thankful for my family who are excited to see me when I am home.  Emily’s reaction of “I can barely read the computer screen through the tears” makes me feel so loved.  Joan can’t wait to have all of her girls home for Christmas, and I can’t wait to see all my girls (Deanna I’m counting you and a glass of wine in this!)

I am thankful for my friends, who I consider my extended family, who are already planning how we can work in millions of hours of catch up time into my short visit.  I have loved the messages from MGC, Bailey, and Ann.

I am thankful that 4 months away is considered too long.

I am thankful for being so blessed. 

And right now, most of all, I am thankful for the catered lunch I am about to enjoy, because it is parent conferences. 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  

09 November 2012


Look, Bahrain is pretty, this is right by my house.

08 November 2012


So i officially avoided the election in the states.  And by avoided i mean i had the election smacked in my face more.  It was amazing how involved my kids were (they were even more excited about Illinois and Colorado).  The teachers here were hugging after the announcement too.  I am always am optimiat and felt that both candidates have their good points and their faults, so while yes, i was very happy Obama won, I could see reaons to vote against him. 

Really I am just sad I am not in a probability unit right now so that i could use this cool data?