Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Genuinely nice teachers

During the second week I did my first presentations to the teachers. They started out my morning by singing me a “Good Morning” song in English as well as a hymn. They have such a great respect for teachers here and I really feel appreciated. Yesterday they brought us flowers they had picked and put in a vase for us!

Let’s just get this one fun fact out of the way… there is no air conditioning in the rooms (get ready Janet) where we are doing our lectures. So basically we are sweating our way through the presentations from 7:30 am - 4:30 pm. The teachers have been so fun loving with us as we joke about sweating and needing coffee to stay awake! The teachers take a siesta after lunch but we haven’t been able to get into that routine yet.

I have to say that the teachers are hungry for the knowledge that we are bringing to them. They are writing furiously as the interpreter explains our concepts and ideas. I really have to think about how to simplify what I am saying. I’m trying to be conscious of not using colloquialisms, idioms and other abstract or extraneous information that either won’t translate correctly (if at all) or bog them down with unimportant words. For example, I wanted to say something about being “in tune” with the young child to capitalize on teachable moments. As it was about to come out of my mouth I realized that the literal translation would not have made any sense. So sometimes I find myself stumbling over words or having to take time to think before I move on to the next thought because I’m trying to make sure that I say it in a better way than I had originally written it for the presentation.

We have asked the teachers in our group to step out of their comfort zone and participate in several activities. They have come up in front of the class to demonstrate pretend play, reading a book to a young child, etc. using the strategies we have taught them. They are learning so much and it shows in their presentation. The above picture is the teachers pretending my umbrella is a toy and they are coming up with different ideas of how to play and teach different ideas with the umbrella.

One more fun fact, our interpreter is a young Vietnamese lady who is attending graduate school in California in speech-language pathology starting in August.

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