10.9.12

Hello, My Name Is

So school is now in full swing - I have an attendance list and gradebook and everything. Whoa.
The first day of school was alright, but certainly not amazing. I guess it was naive of me to assume it would go exactly as planned ;) One of my classes is ESL, and come to find out on the first day my students know no English. They gave me blank stares when I asked for their names... so teaching them how to read has been quite the task. I was forced to make last-minute changes to my course outline as a result of this lack of English speaking that my students struggle with.
My largest classes are my ninth grade reading and writing, which are about thirty students each. This class has been my most difficult for a few reasons. The students are now nearly fluent in English (here, the grades go ESL --> 9th Grade -->10th Grade, etc.) so they think they know everything. Therefore, forcing them to read is like pulling teeth. You would think I gave out 100 page readings every night, the way they complain.
Nope. One paragraph a night to start...
Also, because of the large class size, it is hard to control them all and to help everyone in the class in such a short period.
So three of my four classes were not quite what I expected.
However, my psychology class is awesome! My only complaint is that it is very difficult to keep my students silent during class.
The thing you must realize is that here, they are never trained to be quiet while a teacher speaks or to wait before interrupting, so it is a constant battle to keep the classroom quiet.
And they think it is hilarious to joke about me in Arabic, since they know my knowledge of the language is very limited. But for the most part, it is good natured since I am friends with them all outside of class.
The psychology class is all juniors and seniors, so everyone is very close in age to me.
AKA they are easy to joke with and have fun with, but also easier to teach because they understand more. Win win.
I have been trying to hang out with students on a regular basis outside of class, because they get little to no attention from anyone in their lives and are clamoring for it. They are SO sweet! All of them - the guys and girls.
But.
The guys are more fun than girls.
Now hold on before you make assumptions.
The Egyptian culture trains girls to be quiet and submissive in public. When I try to hang out with them, it is like talking to a brick wall. They are dull and have little to nothing to say. Boringggg.
The guys on the other hand, are taught to be outgoing and fun. When you hang out with them, they joke around and play games and take you to go do fun things in the community. They are a blast to hang out with.
UNTIL.
I found out the deep dark secrets hidden in the girls dorm.
Turns out, if they aren't in public/around any authority figures or boys, the girls turn into a gaggle of boy-talking gossip-spewing hair-doing sisters that are so much fun to hang out with.
Saturday, I spent four hours at the girls dorm just hanging out with them all. This was my first time hanging out with them at the dorm, so I wasn't expecting it to be much fun at all. I was wrong.
I'm about to tell you a secret, so keep your lips sealed.
They taught me how to dance.
Apparently, the dorm = secret squirrel dance party. Girls and guys aren't allowed to dance together unless they are married, and even then they can't dance together in public. It is like a weird footloose sitch in the 'Gypt. (shout out to my homes Kristy-Krist and Bex! The abbreves are catching on).
Anyways. These girls... man do they get down. In public they are these innocent little school girls who barely speak, but when they enter the dance space that is the dorm, they let it loose.
They spent several hours teaching me Egyptian dancing, which is something similar to belly-dancing. It is really hard... but they say I am excellent. They even had me teach some of the Egyptian girls who aren't very good at it, which was fun!
Several days later, I am equally close to the secret-dancing girls as I am to the blatantly-fun guys. All is well in the world.
I have made close friends with a few students of each gender, and it has been really fun to get to know such interesting people. I was seriously concerned that making friends with people you barely share a language with would be very difficult. I was worried that humor wouldn't translate for either of the parties, and that the speech deficit involved would hinder the true personalities from showing.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that laughter and positive character are not restrained by language.
I can't wait to keep building these friendships with people who are just so.. real. It is nice to feel like you can understand someone, even when you can't literally understand them.

Anyways, I am off to finish doing teacher-y things like grade papers and fail students.
Just kidding.
I don't grade papers. ;)
Have a good day/night!
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