Wednesday, June 24, 2015

畢業星期: E6, CE6 (Graduation Week)

School may be winding down for the year, but this week has been packed full of graduations and fun activities for the students and their families. This year I watched as two of my classes graduated from sixth grade. My E6 class here at CELA I've taught for two years and known for three or four years. And my CE6 class I've also taught for two years, and known some of the students for more. They're good kids. They worked hard this year. I'm so proud of them! And I can't wait to see what they continue to do with their lives. :)

Monday my E6 students had their last rehearsal for Tuesday's graduation. The ceremony itself would consist of: a talent show, a skit (Hansel and Gretel and the Creepy Woods by Jeannette Jaquish), a video that the teachers had put together, a speech by the dean, and then the receiving of their certificates). Tuesday morning would be packed full of different tasks, activities, and games to be completed. Teams could receive stamps for using English, completing activities, a good attitude, etc. The winning team would get ice cream. But back to Monday - the final rehearsal.

Flute and recorder ensemble

Scott performing a piece by Chopin.

Here come the witches!

Children soup!

This looks like a job for the Fairy Dog and Fairy Frog mothers
Tuesday's performances went really well. We had 20+ parents in attendance and they seemed to enjoy the show. It was followed by a lunch. Then students had the option of going home or staying at school where there'd be a rest period and a movie. It was a long day, and I was tired by the end, but it was a good day!

Wednesday I had my final CE6 class of the year (and would be attending their graduation in the evening). There was a little confusion when I first arrived if we even had class. Most of the students were napping. "I have a game for us to play and a movie to watch, if you want," I told the students. "We definitely have class!" one of the students said. Another went to actually check in with their homeroom teacher who confirmed that we did have class. So, they put their blankets and pillows away and put their shoes on, and we headed outside to play "No Hands!" They formed two teams...

Passing a softball with their elbows

Passing a frisbee with their knees

Passing a frisbee using their neck

Passing a softball just using one arm

They had fun, and then we headed inside to watch "Hocus Pocus."

Wednesday afternoon the E6 students were in the kitchen baking cookies. Now that they've graduated, not all of the students come to class (and I don't really blame them). So we had four groups with five people in each group. Other than one of the groups of boys just dumping vanilla into their cookie dough instead of measuring it out, it went fairly smoothly. And all the cookies turned out well. :)

Mixing up the dough

Whitney helping one of the groups of girls.

Spooning out the dough onto the cookie sheet

Final products!

After baking cookies and cleaning up the kitchen, it was time to head to the CE6 graduation. It started before I was able to head over (Tien came with me too because she also taught CE6), but we were there in time for dinner! It was assigned seating, and Tien and I were both next to Mandy's family. I taught Mandy in E4 at CELA, and then for CE5 and CE6. She's a lovely girl! After the dinner, their homeroom teacher said a few words, the kids had learned a couple songs to perform, the students said some words (both in English and Chinese), then they received their certificates. After that, there was time to take pictures and slowly people started dispersing. At one point, in between the meal and the show, the Cup Song came on, and so...

The girls came over to be social.

The boys' performance

The girls' song and dance

The class singing

Saying "Thank You"
 ...there were about six of us all playing and passing cups around and singing the song. It was also really cool to hear the students not only read what they'd written in English but then translate it into Chinese as well (or vice-versa). It was a nice evening!

Thursday the E6 students have an outdoor scavenger hunt and then Friday will be a movie day. Then the semester is over for them.

I have been very blessed to work with both of these E6 classes this semester! I've enjoyed working with and learning with them. :)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Outrageous M&M Cookies

A few times a semester, I end up planning O.S.F. activities that take the kids out of the classroom and over to the kitchen. I'm very blessed to have some friends/co-workers who are willing to help with the pandemonium that usually ensues. Generally speaking though, teachers and students alike have a good time. For this past week's activity we had around 40 students signed up. I must say, it was the smoothest and least chaotic that a baking O.S.F. night has been to date. It also was probably the most efficient, making it the shortest. Maybe it's that we've been coming enough now that the students are getting the hang of what to expect and do? Maybe it's just that there were fewer students? Whatever it was, I enjoyed being able to walk between the tables and see that the students were doing really well reading recipes, measuring out the ingredients, and mixing them all together on their own.

The boys moving in to the ingredient table
Last night's endeavor was outrageous M&M cookies. They have everything: oatmeal, peanut butter, M&Ms. Delicious! Seeing as each group of students was only making half a batch, there was an ingredient table set up in the front of the kitchen, and then five stations set up for the students with a bowl and a spoon. The students have always done a really good job taking turns and working together in their groups, and last night was no different. Although, the boys managed to move from their station in the back of the kitchen and just take over the ingredient table. They certainly did a good job making sure that the girls could still get what they needed though.

As the students started pouring in, they washed their hands and gathered around a table. I took a couple minutes to explain the recipe, and point out a few of the ingredients on the table next to me. And then the kids were off! It always makes me smile how even when using the same recipe every dough is a little different, as are the final results. As I walked around I noticed that one group of girls was having a debate amongst themselves as to whether or not the M&Ms needed to be pulverized into the dough or not. The girl mixing at the moment was obviously under the opinion that they should be as she was attacking them the way you would an Oreo to crush it. A few of her group mates were suggesting that perhaps the M&Ms could be left whole. I pointed out that usually M&Ms are left whole in the cookies, but they could crush them if they so desired. They decided to leave them whole. After everything had been mixed together, the students started spooning the cookies out onto lined cookie sheets to be put in the oven. The students cleaned up while the cookies were baking.

Finally, the cookies came out of the oven, and once they'd cooled a bit, I scooped them off the baking sheets and the students were able to eat them. Everyone got at least one cookie. And they all seemed pleased with the results. :)
Some of the final products

As the students were leaving, one girl stopped and turned...

"Thank you for teaching us to bake, teacher!" she said.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Eating Raw Onions, Baking a Cake, and Why Having Jesus Makes a Difference

The General’s voice rolled on. ‘Remember what the old man said? His face brimmed with laughter as he turned to you and answered in a serious manner. “The secret [to living to over a hundred summers] is raw onions. I eat raw onions and I survive.” And then over your head his eyes met mine and we understood each other. What he told you that day was the secret of life itself. One lives and survives only if one has the ability to swallow and digest bitter and unpalatable things. We, you and I, and our people shall live because there are only a few among us who do not love raw onions.” (62)

 "The Wandering Falcon" by Jamil Ahmad

After finishing the novel this afternoon, I turned the phrase over and over in my mind: "One lives and survives only if one has the ability to swallow and digest bitter and unpalatable things." At first glance, it comes across as truth. Life certainly has her hardships, and from a young age we learn that "Only the strong survive." Especially in American culture, weakness is looked upon as a very negative quality. As you think about it some more, it takes on a harsher and bleaker tone. Certainly there must be sweeter or at least more enjoyable foods? Life should be more than just surviving? And as I continued pondering this passage, a Bible verse came to mind: Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

And this made me think about Mark's lesson for O.S.F. this week about baking a chocolate cake. He started out by setting several different ingredients out on the table and asking the students what they were: flour, salt, sugar, unsweetened cocoa. Then he let the students taste them. One boy had been eagerly awaiting the cocoa, thinking it was chocolate, so when a tablespoon of it was dumped in his hand he tilted back his head and popped the whole amount into his mouth. Needless to say, it was not what he expected. it was bitter, and didn't taste like chocolate at all. After tasting, Mark asked the students, "Do all of the ingredients taste good?" Of course, the answer was no. He proceeded to ask them, "But does chocolate cake taste good?" To which most of them responded, "Yes!" Mark went on to explain that each ingredient, the ones that taste good by themselves and the ones that don't, play a role in the final product - the cake. And life is a lot like that cake. There are events in life that don't always seem pleasant at the time, but they serve a purpose. Then we looked at the Bible and what it says. We looked at Jeremiah 29:11, and we also looked at Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." In spite of life having it's unpleasant moments, and everyone's life certainly has it's struggles, God can use all of those things - the good and the bad - for our good. 

Last weekend I was in Hong Kong for a LCMS meeting, and we had a Bible study on Jesus as God's Son and the book of Mark. One interesting point that the minister leading the Bible study brought up was that God had already determined and knew what the struggles in each persons life would be. To quote the minister, "God has hand chosen the bad things in each person's life so that nothing will take him/her out of His hand." The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:30, "And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." No matter how bleak life may look at the time, God is right there walking with us. He has a plan. 

And really, that's what makes having Jesus different. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and burden is light." When we were talking about this passage in our women's Bible study a couple weeks ago, a friend pointed out that in Jewish culture at that time the word "yoke" would have been understood as a reference to the law. Jesus came to fulfill the law on our behalf and establish a new covenant with God's children. When we walk with Jesus, we can be confident that whatever is happening in the now of our life, we are not alone and God has a plan. 

God has carefully selected the ingredients that will go into the cake that is our life. And we can walk in peace knowing that although life will certainly have it's ups and downs, that God is with us and He has a plan. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Taiwan's Landscapes (A Picture Post) {台灣的風景(圖片)}

This weekend I went up to Taipei to visit a friend of mine. On the way back, I took pictures from the window of the bus. Here is what I saw:

Leaving Taipei (台北) but before Hsinchu (新竹)



Taichung (台中)

Taichung (台中)


Nearing Chiayi (嘉義)
Nearing Chiayi (嘉義)

Nearing Chiayi (嘉義)