Archive for November, 2010

Gilmore Girls…

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Where do I even start? I could go on about gilmore girls for pages.
I have all 7 seasons, I have watched each season numerous times and they have yet to get old.
Gilmore girls is on abc family everyday at 5 and it makes my day when I get to watch it.
I am in love with Lorelai and Luke and if anyone thinks that Lorelai should be with Christopher don’t even talk to me.
I tried to buy the theme song for my ring tone last year but it was a trick and wasn’t the actual song.
Just hearing that song cheers me up.
“Where you lead, I will follow any anywhere that you tell me to, if you need, you need me to be with you I will follow…”
I tear up during Lorelai and Lukes first date and the last episode.
The last episode is spectacular if you ask me, I know a lot of people didn’t like it but I thought it ended perfectly.
If stars hollow was a real town I would live there.
I love Richard and Emily’s relationship and how they interact together.
One of my favorite episodes is when Lorelai isn’t sure whether or not she is dating Luke and she is asking Rory to look for anything different….it is so funny.
I love Rory and Lorelai’s bits, they are so funny together.
Fun fact: They had a talking coach for the cast because they needed everyone to talk at such a fast pace.
The Rory and Jess period (Season 3) and everything leading up to it is another favorite of mine.
All the characters of the town just add to the show: Kirk, Ms. Patty, Babet, Gypsy
Mrs. Kim is so ridiculous she’s funny and I like her and Lane’s relationship and how it has its rough patches but they always make it through.
Lorelai’s attitude towards her parents never gets old.
HATE what Lorelai does when her and Luke break up the second time and it is heartbreaking when she has to tell Luke.
When Rory goes to Yale and finds out Paris is her roommate, classic scene.

There’s the tip of the iceberg for you. I am OBSESSED with Gilmore Girls.

SCREEN CAST

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

My screen cast is actually walking you through the story I told on the first day of class, hope you enjoy it!

Workers’ Fight, Cont’d

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Here are some updates and more information regarding the workers’ struggle on the AUC campus for better working conditions.

The following is a copy of the petition that students signed in order to demonstrate their support for the workers’. It outlines the five key issues that are being contended.

“To: AUC Community

We, the undersigned, support AUC workers’ legitimate demands to:

1.Receive a gross minimum monthly wage of 1,200 EGP (which means less than 1000EGP net) with equal pay for all workers who hold the same position.
2.Have Saturday as an official holiday for the AUC workers as it is for all those employed in the maintenance, service departments and the administration. If one is to work on Saturday they shall receive overtime pay for their work.
3.Receive 200 EGP as meal compensation (or an adequate meal) in addition to the salary.
4.Receive annual salary raise of no less than 10% on the original wage of each worker. This percentage is subject to be increased by the administration.
5.Receive Social Insurance coverage that includes all the years of service to the AUC.

Negotiations between workers’ delegates and the administration are currently taking place. The workers are determined to continue the strike until all their demands are met.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned ”

The workers’ strike had ended by October 31st. When I saw the workers walking around on campus when I arrived to campus on the 31st, I was happy. I had assumed that they had gotten their demands met. I later found out that this was not the case. The strike only ended because the workers were unable to financially afford to continue the strike. They either did not have a strike fund or it was not adequate enough. The biggest result of the strike was to raise awareness on campus about the conditions of the workers. The administration also partially met some of the demands. For instance, they agreed to let the workers take one Saturday off per month and have agreed to give them a meal stipend. In addition, they also agreed to raise the worker’s wages and to increase those wages each year, but the amount has not been specified.

Since these measures have been inadequate, further negotiations are continuing between the administration and workers. There was a round of negotiations on Thursday. To show solidarity with the workers, some students and faculty took a stand outside the administration building to send a message to the administration that the students and faculty are aware of the negotiations are taking place and that we expect favorable outcomes for the workers’.

I stood with fellow students and held up a sign. A classmate of mine turned up later and we held the sign together. He, however, was trying to use it as a shield to block his face. He did not want anyone walking past to recognize him. The only reason he was there was because his professor had taken the class to the stand for the first twenty or so minutes of class. He did not feel very comfortable being there, even though he supports the workers. Also, since he is Asian, he felt as though he stood out a lot since the groups was entirely Arab, expect for the two of us and one of his fellow classmates.

There definitely can be a sense of vulnerability and exposure when one participates in an event like this. I was surprised to find myself uncomfortable in the beginning as well and not sure how to interact/respond to the people walking past or looking on. It’s not as though there was any hostility against us, of the students that are aware of the situation, a vast majority are in support of the workers. The petition that mentioned earlier got 2,007 people from the AUC community to sign it. Also, there was no threat of violence and I had nothing to personally lose or gain by standing there. It was an entirely safe environment and I never felt at risk. So why did this feeling exposure, of having to somehow defend and justify myself and my beliefs arise? As time went on, I got used to being there and began chatting with the people around me. Soon, I felt perfectly comfortable.

My respect for the workers and their courage to go on strike has increased greatly. I cannot imagine what they were going through mentally and emotionally as they went on strike, and now as they continue to wonder how the whole situation will unfold in the upcoming weeks and months.

Pepero Day take 2

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Okay so even though today is Pepero Day I did not get a single box from my students, just one solitary box from a fellow teacher. Very sad :( . However I got something even better, a really nice compliment. I was standing at the bus stop ready to go home next to one of my favorite 3rd grade boy students (remember I teach high school – so in Korean high school a 3rd grader is the same as a senior in an American high school). He turns to me, puts his arm on my shoulder, and says “I have many English words but… I respect you. That is all.”

Pepero Day (빼빼로 데이)!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Today, my friends, is a very important and monumental holiday in Korea. It is Pepero day (빼빼로 데이). What is Pepero? Think of it like Korean pocky. It’s like a biscuity-stick that is either covered in chocolate, covered in chocolate and nuts, or filled with chocolate. It’s delicious. According to wikipedia it comes in 10 different flavors – “Regular or Chocolate” (the one sitting on my desk right now); “Strawberry-flavored;” “Almond Chocolate;” “Nude” (chocolate in the center – the one I was given two sticks of earlier); “Nude Lemon Cheese” (one I have never seen nor do I think I want to taste… o.O); “Cocoa;” “Soft” (?); “Cheese;” “Woman in White” and “Man in Black” which again, accoriding to Wikipedia, are “classy” brands of Pepero, and both have chocolate cookie bits scattered throughout the chocolate dip; and last “Topic” which is a style similar to Japanese Toppo.

Korea is well-known for it’s couples holidays, and Pepero day is the first major one that I’ve observed. As I’m currently at school and not much is different but I’m sure if I was in an area with more young people/in a department store I would be able to tell more. Pepero day is somewhat similar to Valentine’s Day, except more blatantly commercial. On Pepero day (November 11, since the date “11/11″ resembles four sticks of Pepero) young people and couples give each other Pepero sticks, other candies, and gifts.

Some people say that Pepero Day was started by girls at a middle school in Busan in 1994. They gave each other Pepero sticks as gifts to inspire the girls to develop the figure of a pepero stick, so basically “here’s this cracker stick dipped in chocolate, eat it and then try to look like this stick.”

Pepero is ONLY manufactured by Lotte Confectionery which means that as Pepero day is a holiday, it is in effect a monopolized holiday. Lotte usually does about 55% of their Pepero business in November every year. There is some speculation as to whether or not Lotte actually started the holiday as a method to increase sales of Pepero but Lotte denies this, merely stating that when it saw a spike in its sales in Novemember (that it had nothing to do with) it decided to take advantage of this and start advertising.

It’s such a weird holiday, and not all Koreans seem to like it or even understand why it is around. Some seem to think that it’s really romantic, stating that “if you give a package of Pepero to someone on Nov. 11 at 11 minutes past 11 o’clock your love will last forever” whereas others confess that they don’t care about the holiday, they just buy Pepero for their significant others so that they don’t end up in the doghouse.

I can’t help but like Pepero Day. It’s like Valentine’s Day but instead of making Valentines, expressing love, etc, this is either about giving candy to someone so that they’ll be your true love forever, or trying to support your friends’ desire to lose weight and look like a stick by giving them candy. What’s not to like?

Exit Slips

Monday, November 8th, 2010

One of the things I’m struggling with the most as a teacher is checking for comprehension. It is very difficult to know whether or not students understand what I’m teaching when only a few of them want to talk (and the vocal ones are not always the ones that know the most English). If I only pay attention to who is shouting things out in class I get a skewed idea of the students reading, writing, and even speaking levels.

My students are low level. So low level that they don’t understand the 5 finger rule (I say “show me your fingers:” if they understand everything they put up 5, if they understand nothing they don’t put up any fingers, if they understand some they put up 3, etc), and some of them don’t understand the question “do you understand?”. Those that do understand almost invariably say “yes.”

What I’ve been doing is checking for comprehension during class, as we go, by making individual students accountable for answering questions. I introduce the material then during the review I throw a soft ball at students and if they catch it they have to answer. Of course this means many students duck, and as my aim is pretty bad I can’t pull a Josh Brown and chuck it at their heads (though believe me, I really want to – I tried once and hit a different kid in the face… whoops), so what I’ve been doing is walking up to the students who refuse to catch it and lightly tossing it at them, making the ball fall in their lap. However many times the students either can’t or refuse to answer the questions still, even though I’ve introduced the material. Many times it’s because they’re not paying attention.  Thus I’m also trying to balance student accountability (i.e. the students expect to be called on so they pay attention) and the idea of “losing face” (a student is not able to answer so becomes incredibly embarrassed in front of his or her peers – the peer mentality is very strong here) and I still don’t know where to draw the line.

I would also really like to develop a system for checking comprehension at the end of the class. Many people have been doing “Exit Slips” i.e. having the students take 5 minutes at the end of class to answer a question or reflect on a topic, and then they collect this slip. I would love to do something like this, and it would definitely work for almost of of the members of 4 of my classes and maybe some of my other higher-level or more motivated students in the remaining 8 classes, but the rest are so low level that I don’t know if this would work. Many of them cannot write well (or at all) and at least 3 of my students can’t read. Doing an exit slip I feel might just continue to isolate the really low level kids. How then do I make the exit slip concept work in my classroom? Do I scrap the concept completely and try to come up with another method for checking comprehension at the end of the lesson? If anyone has any ideas or advice I would greatly appreciate it.

One Club, Two Groups

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Two weekends ago, I attended the Help Reception, which is an even that the Help Club, which is community service oriented, puts on every year with different skits, short films, speakers, and photos. Pretty much all of it was in Arabic so I had a friend translate that big ideas for me. While the show itself was very excellent and brought up many interesting criticisms into the Palestinian issue and Egyptian politics, what struck me the most about the evening was the glaring gender divide.

The club is entirely segregated into male and female groups. All the pictures of club events and activities either featured either all girls or all boys. The entire show itself appeared to be entirely made by the boys. All the skits featured male actors, all the movies features male actors, all the speakers were male. The only girl on stage was one of the announcers and even she spoke less than the male counterpart. A majority of the pictures too were of the boy’s group and their activities. As I watched the program progress, I was constantly wondering when the girls would appear. Also, while I didn’t realize it at the time, the audience seating was segregated, or at least it was strongly encouraged to be segregated with guys on one side and girls on another. I asked my friend why it was like this, why was the club so segregated? She told me one reason was for the girls to feel comfortable. If they are doing some project and want to dance or something, they can be more free and do not have to worry about unwanted attention or being inappropriate. After the program was over a little celebration by club members took place. The boys in the club and their friends all swarmed the stage. They began clapping, cheering and chanting, carried each other on one another’s shoulders, and threw some members in the air. After they calmed down, they gathered near the front of the stage for a group picture. The girls, meanwhile, were in quiet, happy group by the stage. They received flowers and were hugging or taking pictures with each other…a big contrast from the boisterous and exuberant time the boys were having.

It seemed that boys were having a lot more fun, had more energy, and creativity. If I were to participate in that club, I would want to join the boy’s group, since it seemed much more lively and engaging than the girls. I began wondering why they even were in one club together, why not just make two separate clubs since they seemed to be doing different things anyways.

After the program had ended, the club members and audience had the chance to mingle, eat food, and drink coffee. I saw another one of my friends there who was a member of the club and she invited me to a service project the next day at an orphanage. I agreed to it and she told me that they would be meeting at the McDonald’s in Tahrir Square. Although I came on time the next day, I arrived well before anyone else did. Eventually, I saw a group of young adults gathering a little down the street. “Are you the Help club?” I asked two girls. They looked at me with surprise, and appeared almost offended. “Uhhh…are you helping out at an orphanage today?” I asked. They said that they were, but they were not Help, they were VIA or Volunteers in Action. My friend is in several clubs and neglected to tell me that it was VIA nor Help that we were joining that day. The reason that they seemed offended when I asked them they were Help is because there is some dislike between the two groups. I began talking to the girls about the Help Reception that I went to the night before and brought up the gender divide that I had seen. They were very critical of that divide and that was the biggest reason that they did not like that club and did not participate in it. They said that there are several other service clubs on campus like that. Also, since the majority of the girls in those clubs are veiled, they were perceived by the VIA girls I was talking to as being less accepting and critical of unveiled girls in their group, especially if they were Muslim. Then today, I saw that my friend had a Help folder and asked her is she was part if the club. She emphatically said that she was not. They were too religious she said. This comment was really interesting since she wears a hijab and normally is clad in a black abeyya (robe). Anyone that looks at her would probably assume that she too was very religious.

Lack of Ice Cream Anonymity

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

I went to the Baskin Robbins in Yesan yesterday with my host sister. The woman working there told my host sister that she recognized me, not just from living in Yesan and because I walk around a lot, but specifically because I had gone to Baskin Robbins “a lot.” I haven’t gone to Baskin Robbins in 2 months. So either this means that I ate a ton of ice cream in August/early September, or what I had suspected is true and everytime I get ice cream everybody knows and remembers.

If Baskin Robbins remembers me I would hate to think what the GS 24 near my apartment thinks of my ice cream eating habits o.O

Pictures of Protest

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Mercy for Workers

Security. The blue sign in the distance says that they students stand with the workers.

Signs

Women's Bathroom

Trash on Campus

“Man on the Floor!”

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

“Man on the Floor!…Man on the Floor!…Man on the Floor!” The second or third day after moving in to my room in Zamalek, I did not know why in the world a woman was yelling in the hallway. I could not hear the words clearly through the door and didn’t want to open my door to see what was happening since I was in a comfortable position. Later, I discovered that she was yelling “Man on the Floor!”. No, a man had not fallen on the floor, but was present on the floor. Whenever a man is in the girl’s side of the dorms, a female guard escorts him. She will notify the entire floor of his presence by yelling. She will close the bathroom door and bedroom doors as well. Once, a girl who was in the bathroom when the door was shut could not get back out. It had apparently locked and she had no way to unlock it from the inside. She was in there for quite some time calling for salvation until a passerby heard her and freed her. That girl was me…Just kidding! But it could have been.

In the beginning I found the whole warning system highly amusing and slightly ridiculous. It felt like the entire floor was going on lock-down. My dorms at home were co-ed and last year my RA was male. If there was a man on the floor, who cared?  But, the warning is very useful and welcome to many of the girls who wear hijabs. Since they normally do not wear them when they are in their rooms or hanging around the floor, they would feel extremely uncomfortable if a man were to appear without warning and saw them unveiled. It is nice to for those who have just come out of the shower and are walking back to their rooms with only a towel.

Whenever there needs to be some mechanical maintenance done to the room, a man is normally sent up. The woman guard will then supervise the job and the door will remain open. This was interesting. Do I need to be protected from the maintenance workers? Should I feel threatened, vulnerable, or uncomfortable being in a room alone with them while they do their job? If there was a women worker in a male students room, I doubt there would have to be a male guard watching over. I had asked some of the boys if there is ever a “Woman on the Floor!” warning on their side of the dorms. Nope, any work that needs to be done there is done by women.