On my first day of working at South Meadows Middle School, I was greeted by an illustrious building of concrete and metal. As explained by my on-site advisor, Robert Deering, this building was only several years old, having been funded and built just shortly before the economic downturn. The middle school is up to date on many facets with a spacious cafeteria and stage, cavernous hallways, a soccer field fitted with turfgrass, and eight pods equipped with rooms for language arts, history, science, art and math. I spent my first day mostly at the back of the class observing the dynamics between the teacher and his students. The class sizes at South Meadows range from about 30-35 students, and often times can become quite rowdy. These students come from an array of backgrounds, yet because they have gone through middle and elementary school (at the adjacent Witch Hazel school built at the same time as South Meadows) they have a strong connection with their classmates. As Mr. Deering described, "they either love each other or hate each other". Classes usually start with the students slowly filtering in, always with something to talk about and someone to bother. Because his new unit focuses on Outer Space, Mr. Deering will usually begin by showing a slide show or short film in order to draw the attention of the class and bring up topics that will be discussed later during a discussion and note taking session. South Meadows Middle School is a part of the Hillsboro School System, meaning that they must comply with the Common Core/National Science state standards, which ask that each student understand the order of the planets, which ones are gaseous and which are rocky, and how gravity works to form planets, create orbits, etc. During my first week the students were tasked with designing a poster with people at their table, with each group getting assigned a planet in our solar system (plus one group doing a project on the asteroid belt, one doing Pluto and Planetoids, and another doing the Kuiper Belt). Each group member is designated a job to perform, those being a scribe, a graphic artist, a primary reasearcher, and a supervisor/presenter. Ample class time is given to working on these projects, and while the first day was mostly spent in a frenzy of shouting and procrastination, the students settled down by the second and third days, with each person working dilligently to make sure their specific job was completed. Students worked to answer questions regarding the physical aspects of their planet/area as well as other aspects like their importance to ancient people and others that the students found interesting. I noticed as I walked around and talked with the students that they often got the most enjoyment out of these projects when they were able to mold them based on their own interests. Several girls had designed the asteroid belt using massive amounts of glitter glued onto their poster between the other planets, while another group had the idea of designing their planet as a 3-D model out of styrofoam, then attaching it to the poster. As the week drew to a close the students were anxious to continue working on their posters, and through this their desire to learn more about our solar system was peaking.
Grace was our micro blogger yesterday. Here's her take on our second school visit.
Today we tried indigenous dancing. It was extremely crowded in the little echoey room we were dancing in. First the senior high school students performed an amazingly complex and passionate indigenous dance in full costume and beating drums. The girls were dressed in elaborate headdresses, and vibrant skirts with matching jackets. The guys were dressed in multicolored skirts and headpieces with large feathers. Then we got to try it for ourselves. We paired up with senior high school students and our Stella Maris pen pals. The drums began to beat and we were off! In a mixture of complicated steps and chanting we all felt totally lost and confused. At first it was really hard to figure out what we were supposed to do it was a lot of fun. We spiraled and twirled around in a buzz of movement. With the help of our Stella Maris friends we got to truly experience Taiwanese indigenous culture
Sent from my iPhone
Last night for the first time we had a group meeting about community. We are now around halfway through our trip, and so far it has been awesome. Now, nearing halfway, our group leaders have begun to notice a few things that are starting to commonly happen. They talked about helping the group, and not just worrying about what would be best for YOU. Also, people have begun to put a little bubble around themselves, and not contribute to the group as much. After this disscusion, I felt like everyone did a great job keeping what we talked about in mind throughout the day. First, while taking the MRT and then the Taroko Express trains, we stayed in our pods successfully, and listened carefully to directions. At Taroko National park, people created a nice balance between taking incredible pictures, and talking with friends. After a while, things started to deteriorate, but we pulled it together after a relaxing bus ride. This shows how valuable group disscussions can be, and demonstrates our ability to work as a team. I hope that we can continue to guide one another, and hope that we can keep in mind our group values, even as the trip progresses and becomes more challenging for all of us.
One of the things that I found interseting in the 'small picture', hence the title, was that the showers are different in the following ways. The first, there is no shower curtain. The second, there is no fixed head showerhead, it is only a small hand sprayer that had a fixture that enabled it to be eaither fixed to the wall, or mobile. The entire floor gets wet because of the way that the shower is set up. The entire setup is very interesting, but different from what we as a group are used to. The system seems to work though, because all of the Taiwanese that we have seen are pretty clean.
Quick Note: Clearly food is a popular topic. Here is Ethan's take on the day. Once again, kids will move pictures as we have consistent access. Don't forget to check flickr where all the photos are.
Ethan writes: After waking up at 6:00 I proceeded to eat Breakfast. It consisted of meat wraps, soup, and dumplings. After Breakfast I cleaned up my stuff and got ready to leave my cray cray homestay. Before leaving he gave me many many presents. We left the house at about 6:30. We got there being the first group. We waited for people to arrive, they came at about 7:30. From there on we practiced out cup song over and over until it was time to do the song infrount of the school. Dressed in polos and khakis we swagged our way through the song. Next the Mei Ho students did their break dance STUFF, it was very impressive. Gifts were given from school to school. Next we went back to our class room where all of our bags are at. We cleaned and cleaned until our bags were packed and the place was...sort of clean. After that we left in our three somes to go to the classes. The classes were very very loud. However it was very fun. We went to three classes after we were able to go on break/PE. We had break then Alon and I together with a crowd of students went to the eat the food the seniors had made for us. During the time Guy enjoyed breaking the coconut.....After we were released on another break were we chilled and took tons and tons of pictures with the students. After, went to the classroom and gathered our books to read to the elementary school. I found out while reading at the school the kids enjoyed to swear...They were also to old for the types of books we brought. Again the schools gave gifts to each other. After we departed back to Mei Ho High. We chilled and waited for the buses to arrive along with the homestay students. When they came I found out my buddie was a bro named Ian. We took the bus to his house. We has a very big house with 5 floors. When we got there after being shown around, I ate a soon to be continued dinner. Later I enjoyed playing card games and watching Tv. Soon around 7:00 we left to the night market. There we found Meugleotoz and played lots of fun arcade games. Later we also met up with lots of the other mei guo rens. After a fun time there we left and went to tour more of the city. We left the group and went to see ...a tea shop, the temple, bread shop, and a very cool old Japanese mail house and all the way taking many pictures. After the tour we went to a Kodak store to get the photos printed. Then we left the store and went back to Ians house. I took a well needed shower and am sitting here typing this blogg now. I am going to sleep soon as I finish this :P
Quick Note: Each day we select two kids to blog. One has the macro view, the 30,000 view of the day. The other is tasked with the micro view. What aspect of the day impressed the most. Kids are free to choose the event and we accept their choices.
Wilson's view: This afternoon around 7:00- 9:00 we went to the mall. At the mall we did veirous thing, first we went to the shoe store, and looked at some Adidas shoes. After that we walked around and went to get some food, we came across a coldstones and got some ice cream I got a shake and my host person got nothing. We were also there with Leslie and her host buddy. After getting some yummy ice cream we went to the arcade and played some games. So if the games that I played was a basket ball shooting game And bowling, my homes gay buddy played the crane game and the basket ball game as well. I had a lot of fun tonight and I wish I could do it again.
Li-Ling, Pongi, and I are so proud that the kids have blogged about the trip. Due to sporadic internet access and the odd language glitch, I will be reposting a couple of entries that were originally cross posted to the World Cultures blog (http://worcult.blogspot.com) We'll upload pictures as we can. We are currently averaging around 500 photos a day, so get good and settled! We are thoroughly enjoying our visit at Meiho High School.
Tyler wrote: To start my day, I woke up at 6:00, but stayed in bed til someone else woke up. Once it was about 7:00, I got dressed and took my morning vitamins. At around 7:05, I went downstairs to eat breakfast with my homestay family. For breakfast I had rice, pork and a side of sugar apples. Finally, at about 8:10, we left to meet up with the other Catlin Gabel students at Meiho High school Once everyone one was there, we left to set off on our first activity. For our first activity, we observed a memorial, built for the people who died fighting for the Taiwanese people. At this memorial, many people had come to remember and pray for the brave soldiers who fought for their country. After that, we went to Dragonfly Beads Art Studio, where we were taught how to make beautiful beads using a very hot flame and sticks of wax. Once we were done making our bead, we would go upstairs to a small coffee shop where I had a mango smoothie. Next, we went to a tourist attraction where we ate eggs, sausage, rice and vegetables for lunch. After lunch, we observed a dance about the indigenous tribes of Taiwan. Along with the dance, we toured a gallery, displaying many different and interesting facts about the Taiwanes indigenous tribes. Once we were all done learning, we went back to Meiho High school to pick up anything we might need before heading back to our homestay families. Once I was all packed up, I went back to my homestays house to wait for her mom. Once her mom had arrived at the house, we went to the night market with Guy, Doug, Miguel, Kyle and their homestay buddies. There, I ate rice, chicken and vegetables for dinner. The night market is a very fun place where you can eat, play arcade games, buy candy and much more. Once we were finished eating, we played a few arcade games, like basketball baseball and the game where you hit the target with the hammer, and the metal rod goes up and dings the bell. Once it was about 8:30, we went back home so I could write my macro blog and then get some sleep.
This morning we woke up in our nice comfy hotel beds, well rested from a tiring day. We went downstairs to eat another delicious meal filled with Chinese sausage, eggs and other delightful Taiwanese breakfast items.
Following that we packed our suitcases and hopped on a bus to the city of Neipu in Ping Tung County. After a short bus ride we finally arrived at Meiho High School. The smiling faces of our homestay buddies and Meiho baseball team greeted us warmly as our bus pulled in to the parking lot. The Meiho students welcomed us in both English and Chinese. All were excited to meet our homestay buddies. The baseball team then took our luggage off the bus and put it into our designated room in the library. We then boarded another bus with our homestay buddies and went to Hakka Culture Park. In the park we got went on a tour and learned about the Hakka people. The park was absolutely breathtaking, filled with luscious green lawns, a glimmering pond and shady walkways. The tour guide took us to a couple of exhibits that featured Hakka daily life and a rice mill. We then were given meal coupons and sent to the food courts to buy food. Much like many of the food courts found in America, there were many different options and it was so hard to choose. The stands included papaya juice, dumplings, ice cream, and much more. After lunch we were turned loose in the park. We went to the pond and the Meiho kids and the Catlin kids were able to skip rocks together. We then went to another exhibit, which included Wii baseball, a wish rock and very cool interactive games that were built into the museum. Afterwards we got on another bus and went to the streets of Neipu. There we got to get a closer look at Taiwanese lifestyle as a tour guide led us through the windy labyrinth of narrow streets. We got to roll noodles at a little shop, walk through someone’s house through their courtyard and got an inside look at a traditional Taiwanese temple. We then got back on the bus to Meiho where we packed our bags for the homestays and had some time playing basketball with the other Meiho students. At 4:30 we met up with our homestay parents and bid farewell to our teachers. Annie, my homestay buddy, took me to the Neipu supermarket. It is such a contrast from what American supermarkets look like and it took me by complete surprise. Everything is on a stand or on a rug just lying out there with paper signs and there are many different vendors selling produce. It reminded me slightly of Pike’s Market in Seattle except much more crowded.
We then went to dinner and walked around the Neipu night market.
Durring our first day in Taiwan we the pier 2 art gallery. This was a urban park filled with scultpures, painting and murals. One of the main features was the spiraling tunnel constructed out of wood. Throughout the gallery there were pairs of sculptures where each one painted differently. Farther down there was a sculpture made out of shipping crates and a transformer constructed out of old parts. There were also large murals painted on buildings. It was all together a very interesting gallery and was my favorite part of our first day.
Today, we first got off a short plane ride that had landed in Kaohsiung. Going through customs and sequrity was a breeze, and we made it onto Taiwan soil safely. We packed our luggage on a tour bus and met our tour guide named Joanne, who helped us throughout the day. On the bus, we got our first look at Taiwan, and we absorbed the difference and amazingness in the culture. A few minuets in the tour, we got off of the bus and ate breakfast at street market. After we were full of eating, we stopped by our hotel we were staying at and dropped off our luggage. We soon quickly departed and walked to the love river, "ai hao in Chinese", and we drew postcards for our families. We came back to our hotel and ate a delicious lunch in the reastraunt next door to the hotel. Next was the longest part of the day, as we walked our way down to pier 2, a place that has now become an art park, stopping to sightsee and experience a variety of things along the way. When we were done sightseeing, we walked to a nearby train station and finally made our way back with many troubles to our hotel tired and exhausted. Everyone took a refreshing shower, then ate a filling dinner. Finally, struggling to stay awake, we made preparations for our first home-stay night tomorrow.
Today we set off on a adventure that we will remember throughout our lives. We began the day at the Portland Airport saying our goodbyes to our families for the next two weeks. Then we boarded our flight to head to the San Francisco International Airport where we spent three hours eating, preparing, and exercising for our coming flight. While we were in San Francisco we also had a suprise party for Kathryn which included cake, party hats, and birthday notes. After our "brief" layover in San Francisco we boarded a China Airlines 747-400 for a flight that lasted 14 hours which felt like days. After our "never ending' flight we finally arrived in Taipei! We are now awaiting a short flight from Taipei to Kaohsiung which will be our final flight today. Today we will be exploring the city of Kaohsiung and tomorrow we will go to our first homestay family at Meiho High School.
We had just landed in the San Francisco Airport, and had completed a long trek from our gate to the international section of the airport, and had just gotten through security. At around 11:00 PM Maya and I were in the bathroom getting our teeth brushed, when Pongi came in and told us to come to meet up with the group at gate A7. We had trudged over there, not wanting to do anything besides sleep in a warm, cozy bed. Just seconds before, I had been complaining about how tired I was, and was having a hard time picking up my feet to take steps. Just then, as we arrived at the gate, I noticed that nobody was there...then everybody jumped out and yelled, 'happy birthday!" Besides nearly giving me a heart attack, this picked up my spirits immediately! I was then bomarded with gifts, cards, and the most magnificent red velvet cake I have EVER seen. It was red with a stretchy paper dragon on top. How did they know? How did they do all of this without me knowing? I later learned that the answer was quite simple; my mom. She planned all of this for me, knowing that I would be spending my entire birthday on the airplane, and would have only six hours of March 14, before we crossed the date line. I am not sure about the cake; red velvet happens to be my favorite kind of cake, but that may be a mere coincedence. Knowing my mom, it wasn't. We then had cake, and I looked through a highly embarrassing and hilarious photo book of my 13 years. My mom had put together a bag with 13 small gifts, and I am ashamed to say that my first thought was 'I don't have any room for this!' I am greatful for her thoughtfulness. Later, all of my peers wrote cards for me, and even the eigth graders who I barely know managed to write something meaningful to me. All in all, even though this is the strangest and most strenuous birthday I have ever had, I am sooooo grateful for how hard my parents, teachers and peers worked to make this happen for me. I learned that, however strange and bad a situation may seem, people that care about you can make it better in a second. And this will be a brithday that I will never, ever, ever forget, and this celebration will add a touch that seems to fit it all together for me. Thank you so much everybody!!!!
Yesterday we visited the Lansu Garden and Mercy Corps. Visiting Lansu Garden during Chinese New Year was certainly exciting. Not only was the garden decorated with red lanterns and Year of the Snake activities at every turn, we were treated to two dance perfomances. We saw a very active lion climb a mountain and we enjoyed the sunflower dance. Of course we took lots of photos. They can be found at this link. Feel free to download them in any size you desire.
After a quick lunch at Skidmore Fountain, we were welcomed into the Mercy Corps Action Center for an afternoon of cross-cultural training. We learned a lot about our group and group dynamics. Using an iceberg as a metaphor, we learned about cultural pieces we might see and those we might not see. We all hope we are not sailing on the Titanic!
We will be using this blog to record our trip. Feel free to bookmark it so you can follow us! And yes, we love comments!
Modeled after the Flickr Bench Monday project, these photos will be uploaded on Mondays. They were created on Open House Sunday, 2011/2012. Enjoy them. Click here to view the Flickr Bench Monday project Many thanks to all the families, students, and parents who took the risk to participate in this global project.
middle school News
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