Monday, May 30, 2011

Talk like an American

Being white American doesn't often mean I'm in the minority, but teaching at British school in Kenya definitely puts me in that category. I guess my students are starting to notice that I'm a bit different than the other white teachers because of some recent student experiences...

During practice for our Years 3 and 4 play production, one of my Indian girls is supposed to have a British cockney accent. As the child said her lines, my British co-worker exclaimed, "That sounds like a weird American cockney something. Mrs. Porter!"

On a writing assessment the children were required to write about this question: Why would you want to travel to Antarctica? One child's response, "So I can have an accent like Mrs. Porter."

I've definitely become aware of my American accent strewn with a few new British words and phrases. Add the Southern influence from my husband and in-laws, and I'm just a talking mess! But it sure does make for some laughs.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We have a home!

Yesterday I signed a contract for a new flat in Budapest. We have a home! We still have the money to put down, and hopefully this blog post won't taboo us getting the flat, but I figure signing the contract means it's as good as ours. Fingers crossed!

And it has lots of room for guests, so who is coming to visit?!

6 1/2 weeks till we move in!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

7 More Weeks

School has been VERY hectic. Even the head teacher (principal) admitted to me yesterday that Braeburn School is the busiest place he's ever worked, and it gets busier every year. You should see all the teachers on a Friday night. "Knackered," as my colleagues say. Despite all the chaos and feeling like a chicken with my head cut off, we do manage a bit of fun amongst the learning. These are some of the things we did this week in Class 4K...

Monday we went to the Nairobi Railway Museum to learn about the building of the East African Railway. If you've seen Ghost in the Darkness, you'll know a little bit about the man-eating lions that ate workers who built the railway. Here's the car where one man was
dragged off.
The museum has many interesting relics. This outdoor train seat was sat on by Teddi Roosevelt, the Prince of Wales, and two of my students.
International Day was Wednesday. We all enjoyed dressing up and traveling around the world. We went from Aruba to Australia to Canada to Japan and more. We all suffered a bit of jet lag by the end of the day!
We played some "ice-hockey" in Canada.
And wore kimonos in Japan.
Our week continued with more excitement as class 4K presented an assembly for the school on Friday. We acted out the story of Gandhi, whom we've been studying. Here are some of my fabulous actors.
You can see "Young Gandhi" on the front left (totally type casted!) and "Old Gandhi" on the right (bald cap and all).
It's the weekend now, and I will admit that today (Saturday) I'm doing absolutely nothing in front of the TV, took a 3 hour nap this afternoon, and haven't even gotten dressed. The work load is starting to catch up with me. I will also admit that I'm counting down. What teacher doesn't at the end of the year? 7 weeks to go. Despite the extreme parts of this job, I have learned a lot this year and enjoyed the diversity and improvement of my kids. (But I do hope the American School of Budapest is a little less hectic!)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No green thumb needed...

Things just grow here! As some of you know, when we arrived at Flat 17 we had some pots with very sad sticks coming out of the soil. With a little bit of water we had green leaves. Now, every once in awhile, a surprise flower pops through the green. The latest is this:
The flower only lasts a day. It turned into this the next day and fell off.
After a bit of internet searching, we found it was called Neomarica Gracilis or Apostle's Iris or the Walking Iris. It's native to West Africa, Central and South America, and most densely populated in Brazil. Supposedly it is quite rare. Cool!

We also saw these pop up about the same time.
Will realized they might be the pepper seeds he planted months ago. They've finally shown themselves. I guess they just wanted the heavy rains to come. We'll see, we may have peppers soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I haven't been to church in 2 years.

After one too many sermons about "do not commit adultery" and "don't beat your wife", I quit attending Kenyan church. I lasted 10 months. I think that's pretty good considering sermons are a minimum of two hours long, and that does not include the announcements and singing and all the other things that Christians have been taught a church service must entail. I will admit that I miss church. I don't miss the building and the 3-point sermons and the Sunday morning announcements. I certainly don't miss watching people do what they think they're "supposed" to do to be Christian. But I do miss people. I miss worshipping together. I miss being a part of a "family" and helping each other along this journey.

In Kenya I've learned a lot about the church. Some good, some bad. Nairobi is the missionary mecca for Africa. And most of Kenya is Christian, carrying out the duties that missionaries told them are Christian. You can't turn on a Kenyan TV channel on Sunday morning and not hear some Kenyan preacher yelling at the congregation. And I mean yelling. What happened to teaching, I wonder. No, we've got to preach! And shout the fear of God into people! That's Christianity? I don't really remember reading about Jesus shouting a lot.

So the whole church thing has been turned over in my head a lot over the last few years in Kenya. Because I always had real church families in America, PEOPLE who were the church rather than the church BUILDING, I've never really had these things to sort out before. I look at my years in Kenya and see how there have been remnants of the church in my life here, despite not attending church in a building. People have come alongside me during the hard bits of my journey. I've had good theological conversations that make me really think about what I believe. People have become "family". It just doesn't look like the church down the road that I hear blaring music at midnight on a Friday night. It doesn't look like a church I once attended. It looks like people walking in the journey with me. That's what I always want church to be.
That's what I hope church will be like in Hungary. And I will admit I hope we find a church that meets in some building where I can meet more people who become "family", have good theological conversations, and worship with a band. (Yep, I miss the guitar in church.) But I've learned that church really is about people and journeys and not all the other stuff that Christian culture adds to the mix.

I haven't been to church in 2 years, and maybe that's been a good thing. Maybe that's been part of my journey and God teaching me a few new things.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Three Day Weekend = Road Trip!

We headed off to Tsavo National Park, the largest park in Kenya, on Saturday morning. Weaving and stopping through Nairobi traffic for two hours and then two more hours on a reasonably smooth road, got us to the gate of the park and a stunning view of mountains, hills, savanna, and jungle.
Five of us got out of the car, stretched our legs, and set up camp at our little bandas, complete with small kitchenette, mosquito nets, warm beds, and a bathroom.
And also an amazing view of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
We spent Sunday hiking along Mzima Springs, which flows from deep in the volcanic ground, and over hardened lava flow.
We also listened to the wonderful sounds of nature (a definite contrast to the horrid traffic on our street) and saw some of Africa's unique animals.
We watched a storm move in and rain cover the Kenyan landscape, adding to the green of the park. The rainy season has come to Kenya and so far it's looking good. Hopefully no drought this year!
On Monday we came home through little traffic. (I love holidays in Nairobi when everyone is off the streets and driving is a little less chaotic than usual.) It's back to work on Tuesday morning, but with a weekend away from the city, fresh air, beauty, and a bit of extra sleep, I think I'm ready to take on the last 10 weeks of school. And it's always great to be reminded how beautiful Kenya is off Gitanga Road.