Friday, April 27, 2012

I Think I'll Stay.

Why didn't anyone warn me that saying good-bye was going to be this hard?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Say Good-bye.

"Don't say goodbye.  Cause I don't wanna hear those words tonight."

I am not ready to say goodbye to my students. I am not ready to say good-bye to Brazil. Not. Ready.

The leprechaun left us a paper chain on St. Patrick's Day and we have been using it to create a countdown of how many days I have left in Brazil. It causes quite a stir with my students, but God forbid, I try to skip it. I try to include the fact that the paper chain just isn't for how many days I have left, but also for how many days until they leave for NR. But they're smarter than that. They know.

There are so many things that I am going to miss about each and every one of them. I've gotten to know their personalities and little idiosyncrasies that make them all individuals. They're wild and crazy and rambunctious, but they are sweet and funny and I am not ready to say good-bye. I miss them when we are apart for a weekend, let alone saying good-bye forever.

I will miss the way Lara, who was most skeptical of me at the beginning, tells me that I'm not allowed to leave, that I may stay at her house if that means not leaving. I will miss Bia starting off everything with "Miss, let me tell something to you." I will miss Guilherme and the way he looks at me and says "WHAAAT?" every time I talk to him. I will definitely miss being called Mees/ Mees Cass/ Mees Cassa. I will miss their little Portuguese accents. I will miss their hugs and they way they pray for me during Religion and then turn around to see how I've reacted. There are so many things that I am going to miss, this only scrapes the top of the iceberg.

How can I leave in a week? How can I go home knowing that I may never see these children who have had such a huge impact on my life ever again? It's hard, it's really, really hard. And I'm not ready to do it. I don't WANT to do it.

The Lasts.

Well, this week begins it. The first of the last. Our last full Sunday. Our last Monday. I don't know if I can do it. I don't know if I can say good-bye to this country and to these people.

I'm living in a state of pertpetual saddness and constantly living on the verge of tears. Couple that with the fact that it's supposed to rain every week and you're in a for a real treat. (I like to think that Rio is crying because we are leaving-- hence the forecast.) There's some excitement mixed in there, don't get me wrong. I am so estatic to see everyone again. But right now, I can only think about how sad I am to be leaving here.

It's funny. I was so sad to be leaving Ohio and going away from all my friends to spend time here. And here I am, three short months later, not ready to leave here. Like I said in one of my first posts, how lucky am I to know a place that it so hard to say good-bye to?

I don't know how I will make it through this week.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cross Continent Communication.

It started with Tracy. Then traveled to Karen and Kaelee. And finally hit my mom. The itch to Skype people from home and introduce them to my class. With educational undertones, of course.

Tracy Skyped my class the Wednesday before Easter vacation and read them The Pout-Pout Fish. My kids will NOT stop saying "Blub, Blubb, Bluuuuub" like the fish in the book did. Anytime I pull up a video on the screen, they start blub, blub, blubbing. Unfortunately, we didn't have the microphone plugged in, so Tracy couldn't hear my little rays of sunshine SHOUTING good-bye. Don't worry, the enthusiam was still there.

The following Friday, we Skyped Kaelee and Karen. In the afternoon. Did I mention it was on a Friday? The two of them took turns reading a book about a sea turtle to about two students who were paying attention. When it came time for questions, they were all ready to participate though. Funny how that works. Best question? "Why are you friends with Miss Casavecchia?" Thanks a lot, little kid, thanks a lot.
Karen and Kaelee.
Today we Skyped my mom's 7th grade class so that they could help us with our science unit. They acted out little scenarios and my students had to decide if it was healthy or unhealthy. I had taped this lesson as a part of the requirements for my lesson and so happy that I did. The students acted just like themselves, despite having an audience. I know that I will look back on this lesson and smile at how funny they are.

I am so thankful for the technology that exists these days and the access that I have to it. Thanks to Skype and fast internet, my friends and family in Ohio were able to see what I'm working with down here and my precious little kiddos were able to meet people who are very important to me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Oh, The Things They Think Of.

I always rave about the funny things that my students say, but never actually provide any examples. Here's a story about one of my dear little girls, just to prove that I'm not making all these things up. Let me paint this picture for you...

The students were in music. They were seated in a circle at the front of the room with the music teacher. Ms.Souza and I were using the computers at the back of the room and Ms. Cruz was at her desk. The students were talking-- no big shock there. The music teacher had asked/ told the students to sit at least five times without them listening. She begins to raise her voice.

Enter Bia.

After the music teacher telling the students to sit down again, the students get quiet and at that moment Bia SHOUTS "Everybody sit now! Dun. Dun, dun, dun."

I know that it is funnier if you were there, but please try to picture this (she also had dance motions, so imagine that too) and imagine being the teacher and trying so hard not to laugh. Seriously, it was impossible.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

One Day Without Shoes-- 2012 Edition

TOMS Shoes is a company that most people in the States are familiar with. You buy a pair of shoes and they donate a pair of shoes to someone who needs them-- One for One. Every April they have a day devoted to going without shoes in hopes of raising awareness about this global problem. Curiosity leads to questioning which leads to awareness and then change.

I incorporated this day, One Day Without Shoes, into our curriculum for the semester. I created a first grade friendly video about how there are children in other parts of the world who do not have shoes to wear and cannot go to school because of this. It was also explained how being barefoot all of the time can be dangerous. I have NEVER seen my students to focused.

They all got little flags that say "I went barefoot on One Day Without Shoes".
After watching the video we talked about service projects and how change starts with one individual using his or her talents to help others. Together we wrote thank you letters to the man who brings us snack every day and the two people who clean our classroom. I was a little worried about how these well-off first graders would do with the idea of people being so poor that they didn't have any shoes. It's a tough concept to grasp at any age and from any economic situation, but I was still nervous about it.

I had NO reason to be worried. The bulk of the lesson was on Monday, we wrote the letters on Tuesday, and went barefoot on Thursday. (It wasn't on the day that TOMS had designated as One Day Without Shoes, but that's just a minor detail.) Each day we had a brief, and I mean BRIEF, review of TOMS Shoes and their misson. These kids got it, they understood everything.

One student was absent on Monday, so she was completely lost on Tuesday when we talked about TOMS Shoes. I had her watch the video that I created during learning centers and then we talked about it afterwards. She looked at me and said "Mees Cassa, this is going to be really fun for us. But its not fun for kids who have to live without shoes everyday. I mean, its really dangerous for them." Totally blew me out of the water, I was NOT expecting that out of her.

I overheard little snippets of conversation about TOMS Shoes all week. The students would talk amongst themselves about how TOMS would donate a pair of shoes to children who need them and how lucky they are to be living where they are. Another one of my students told me this morning that he "wants to buy a million pairs of TOMS so that a million kids get shoes." I almost cried, I was SO proud of them! They got it, they really understood.

Feliz Páscoa

Last week was a short week at school; we had Thursday and Friday off due to the Easter holiday. Claire and I spent the long weekend at John and Vania's house. Which translates to us spending the Easter holiday laying in the pool and working on our tans. Rough life, right?

On Saturday, some of the other teachers in the English department came over to John and Vania's just for brunch and to hang out. Ms. Scavarda is one of the English teachers which meant that I got to spend the whole day with Kadu. While the adults hung out, I spent the day in the pool with Teka, Kadu, Juju, and Ana Julia. Quite a change from my usual pool routine of laying on the raft, listening to feel good music and rotating myself every fifteen minutes like a regular old rotissere. I think we also managed to squeeze a little tree climbing in there to give those city kids a real taste of nature.

Vania drove us back to Botafogo on Sunday, but not before we stopped at the ice cream place that has 65 flavors of ice cream-- self-serve!

It was different not being in a church with my family on Easter this year, but it made me more appreciative of those times that we do have together. And when it boils down to it, the physical act of being in a church isn't what Easter is all about. I was able to talk to God on my own time, in my own way. Which might have actually been better, for me personally, than sitting through a church service that I didn't understand.


Vivi took us to our first, and probably only, Brazilian soccer game. Fluminense was playing Botafogo, and we were cheering for Fluminense. The fans were wild, the engery was contagious, and the atmosphere was like nothing I had ever experienced! The game wasn't all that important to Fluminense, so they weren't playing their best players and the game wasn't as intense as it might have been. But it was still crazier than anything I had experienced in the States.

Oh you know, just cheering on the team.

Might have been a little bit excited.

Me, Amanda, Brittany, and Claire outside of the stadium.

Claire and I at the beginning of the game.

The stadium
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Here I Am To Worship

Despite their wild attitudes and non-stop talking, my students do have a sweet side. It comes out many times throughout the day. Especially in Religion.

Best rendition I have ever heard.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

One Heartbeat.

I received a package from my mom yesterday. They always seem to arrive at the best times-- the day after the shooting and in the midst of my large bout of homesickness. In it was a Chardon shirt, some bubbles, and some Tagalongs. My mom, what a lady.

So much has happened at home since I have been here. Things have changed, people have changed. Things are different from when I left and at the same time, I am very different than the person who stepped onto the plane two short months ago.

Life is scary, things you've always known to be safe are suddenly cast in a new light. But from that comes hope. I suppose Chardon has always been good at having hope. We've always been good at coming together when it mattered most.

This video came out a couple of days ago and I sobbed when I watched it. Sobbed. Those are the halls that I walked down, that's the cafeteria where I ate, that's the gym where I watched countless pep rallies. That's my school, those are my teachers, that is my town.

Take ten minutes of your time and watch this:

It is so worth it. CBS Sports cast Chardon in the light that it should be-- safe, fun, a community, a home.

International Festival

There are many things that OLM is able to do that would flounder in many public and private schools in the States. The International Festival is one of those things. Many schools in the States, at least the ones that I have experienced, are not terribly diverse. There aren't many students from different countries and ethnicities. OLM has MANY students from many different cultural backgrounds. Hence the success of the International Festival. On Saturday, many students and their families came to OLM to celebrate various countries around the world and enjoy the company of their fellow Lancers.
Brittany, Amanda, Claire, and I at the booth for the States.
There were eleven different countries represented-- United States, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Portugal, Brazil, Israel, and Ethiopia. Each country had a booth with pictures, artifacts, information, and food from their country. The States served hot dogs and brownies-- the real American meal. I had some authentic Mexican tacos, German strudel, Brazilian brigadeiro, Uruguayan desserts, and Israeli falefel. Plus more food that I cannot remember. But it was all delicious.

She tells me at least three times a week that she is from Uruguay.
OLM also had a table which was conventiently located right next to our table. They had a huge sundae bar. Three types of ice cream, what seemsed like hundreds of bowls of toppings, plus Coca Cola. Every American's dream, right?
Our table.

Besides having different countries represented, the After-School program also put on different presentations. We saw judo, dance, piano, and capoeira which is a native Brazilian slave fight and dance. A couple of my kids were participating and I was like a proud mama watching them. I can't believe that I only have 26 days left in Brazil and 15 days lefts in the classroom (we counted during homeroom this morning). My kids are energetic and exhausting, but they are also funny and smart and too darn precious for words. I am going to miss them like CRAZY when I leave.
A couple of my kids getting ready for their judo presentation.
As a side note, I've had a couple of requests for them to come with me or for me to stay here forever and be their teacher forever. Two of the girls said that they would squeeze into one of my suitcases together and all that I had to give them was air holes, cake, rice and beans, and a dog. Not a lot, really.