21.9.12

Feeling Feist-y For Fall

Man, has this week been rough.
Thank goodness it is the weekend, and I have a brief hiatus from (A) waking up early, (B) having to be so talkative, and (C) leaving my house.
I'm not normally such a cynical hermit, but like I said. Man, has this week been rough.
Starting Monday I finally got sick for the first time. Honestly, I'm surprised it took so long - I've been here for over a month. I still don't know what caused it - I didn't eat or drink anything different from anyone else, and I was the only one who got sick. But from Monday to Wednesday I was moping pathetically from class to class suffering from extreme nausea.
I'm not sure how many of you have heard this rant of mine or not before, but it is my opinion that the three worst feelings in the world are as follows (not in order):
1) Guilt
2) Embarrassment
3) Nausea
I've spent (I'm not sure why...) quite a lot of time internally analyzing this, and have come to the conclusion that experiencing any of these three feelings in their purest forms is valid reason to crawl in a hole and never come out.
Thank goodness I only had to deal with one.
Anyways, I'm sure I was significantly less entertaining and/or pleasurable to be around, because I couldn't stop thinking and complaining about how much I wanted to vomit.
Fun stuff.
So the beginning of my week was miish quies (not good in Arabic).
Thursday, I woke up feeling much better - almost back to normal. I wrongfully assumed that meant it would be a good day.
My dad always pounded into my head since I was a little kid - "never make assumptions!" You can ask him for his quaint description of why ;)
So feeling better, I headed to class. My psychology class went great as normal, my ESL class has improved a bit so it went well also, and then came my 9th grade class.
Ahhh man. They just.... ugh.
We had an assignment due that day where I had them write a page giving DIRECTIONS to either tie their shoes, or brush their teeth. I had to do this in middle school - it was a writing assignment intended to help you to give (and follow) instructions.
If there is anything these students need help with, it is following directions.
Anyways, they had a whole week to do the assignment, and I was going to surprise them by reading their papers out loud in class - with shoe in tow - to see if I could follow their directions to tie a shoe.
Nope. Nope, I could not.
Why not, you might ask? Because NOBODY followed the directions.
So as I am reading their papers out loud (anonymously) and finding out that people chose topics like "why people wear shoes" and "my favorite kind of shoes" instead of giving directions on how to tie them, one student decided he had had enough.
Cue uproar.
One of my students decided to stand up in front of my class and give a minute-long speech about how "I'm the teacher, and I should be teaching them, not expecting them to teach me" and how I "treat them like children with stupid homework like this" and essentially that I'm not doing my job and they think my class is stupid.
Did anyone in the class stand up for me?
Nope. The entire class stood up and cheered for him.
Standing ovation.
Round of applause.
I. was. fuming.
Who gave my class the audacity to stand up and act as if I don't understand how to do my job, and that they get to simply ignore my class room instructions?
When I was finally able to calm my class down (after the standing and clapping scenario), all they wanted to do was argue. I fought hard, and anyone listening in would have said I was perfectly reasonable, logical, and rational in my statements.
These students are none of the above.
They somehow managed to ignore every bit of logic and reason in my argument, and convince me that I am slightly crazy and a terrible teacher.
The rest of the thirty minutes in class continued with aggressive student questioning and my equally firm answering as to why I am a good teacher and why they must do classwork.
By the end, I was exhausted.
And questioning my sanity and abilities to teach.
     *Sarah (my roommate and co-teacher) is sitting next to me right now saying "Get 'em! Give them a good
        rant!" She dealt with all of this her last stay here a few years ago. Now they respect her more because
        she has been here before and they know her.
So as a follow up to this, the student who decided a mid-class raving speech was a good idea was taken with me for a meeting with the principle, and my whole class gets to spend all next week re-writing this same essay with different prompts.
So there, you 9th graders!
I have spent some time analyzing this, and here is my conclusion: the issue is less to do with the individual student standing up and being disrespectful, and more to do with the group mentality. They are SO protective of each other; it wouldn't matter what that one student stood up and said, the fact that he stood up to say it was enough for the entire class  to group together into a protective circle around him.
And then there is no one left to protect me.
Therefore, no matter how fair and logical I may be, they will continue to side with him until the group is broken up.
Experiencing this makes it so much easier to understand how a riot could start here in .2 seconds.
Tahrir Square = explained. They are the equivalent of angry 9th graders in a protective circle.
Understand, I know that it is more complicated than this. I'm not dumb. But honestly, the culture is unlike anything you would find in America. You simply can't understand how collectivist they are until you come here and see it yourself.
End Rant.
Today was slightly more pleasant, because although my students were a handful to handle again, I had a few very sweet ones who went out of their way to make me feel good. One of the sweetest 9th grade girls wrote me a poem about how I am her favorite teacher and help her to learn the most.
So if nothing else, I can know that at least one student in my thirty student rioting class values my effort.
I am not quite home-sick, but I am certainly missing some things right about now.
Like rain.
Man, am I tired of this heat.
Everyone is talking about how it is fall, and it's raining, and they all get as many pumpkin lattes as their little hearts desire.
And I get sand and 90 degrees in practically October.
But I make do.
I am listening to "fall music," which for me is Feist's album "Metals." Probably because it came out in the fall... See title.
Also, listen to that album, it is excellent.
And because you can't find a pumpkin anywhere in Egypt, I am eating a lot of apples.
I made apple fritters with my Egyptian housemates to try and cure my fall fever.
They were decent, but I would kill for one from Lattins right now.
So here I sit, listening to Feist, pretending that I am wearing an over-sized sweater and knee-high boots, and making apple fritters.
Staring out my window at green trees and sand and blue skies.
I walk down the road to the school and instead of stepping on the leaves on the ground to hear them crunch, I jump on the guavas that have fallen rotting from the tree outside the house.
Rotten guavas are kind of the equivalent of fall leaves, right?

I realized I haven't posted many pictures lately, so here are a few from my week. They aren't anything too exciting, just a little look into my everyday life here.


This is the pile of books that resides between our pillows on our bed. We sleep with them there... Among the selected readings are "The Great Divorce," "A Raisin in the Sun," "The Divine Comedy," "Flowers for Algernon," and "Walden Two."
Light reading.


These are super sweet things some students gave me. On the left is a drawing the brother of one of the seniors made - he works on campus helping in the bakery. He suffered some brain damage and is partially deaf, but loves art and made a drawing of me. So cute! The other paper is a poem one of my 9th grade students wrote me, telling me that I am her favorite teacher. Mood booster.


We avoid cleaning our room and doing laundry like the plague...



Pomegranites are in season now! We at the ALL the time. I will never eat another pomegranite outside of Egypt. They just aren't the same in the states. Amazing.

Here's to a restful weekend and a better week next week!
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2 comments:

  1. Hey taylor, don't hesitate to contact my dad with some teaching type questions if you have them. I bet he would love to help you. His email is on the Bush middle school web site. Don't get to envious of fall here, it hasn't truly started if that is any consolation. It's been rather sunny in seattle and I have only worn jeans twice in the last two weeks. Keep up the good work over there. :)

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    1. Thanks Isaac! I will definitely hit him up with any questions I have in the future. And I will stifle my envy for at least another month then ;) haha. And I'm trying! I ended up speaking with my students who have been giving me difficulty outside of class, and we cleared up a lot of the issues. Hopefully my talk with them will last through next week, so I can use more of my class time for actually teaching.

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