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December 1, 2009

Ericka Griffin - Week Four in Ireland

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This week, instead of teaching my 3rd class, I was able to help teach resource students. I learned so much about catering to specific students’ needs. Interestingly, I had learned this week that the resource teachers only have a degree in primary education. After having taught the resource students for an entire year, the teachers sign up for resource classes. I was informed that there is no such degree as a Special Education degree. The resource teacher told me that each primary educator has a turn at being a resource teacher.

It was truly inspiring helping the resource students learn. The entire week, I was wishing that teachers were allowed that one-on-one time with each student. Also, by teaching the resource students, I was able to get to know each and every one of them, and they were able to get to know me, as well. It broke my heart to hear some of the students’ struggles, which I cannot elaborate because of confidentiality. Overall, this was my first experience teaching resource students, and if I were to go back to school, I would most likely get a degree in Special Education. Also, on Thursday, I had made a surprise visit to my 3rd class that I had left, and they were so excited to see me! All I kept thinking of was when I was really leaving, which I wish that I did not have to.

On Thursday, it was Thanksgiving back in the U.S. This was the first time in my life that I did not celebrate Thanksgiving at all; however, I was not bothered by it. Before I had left for Ireland, my mom had made me a mini Thanksgiving meal. And, I was able to contact my family through Skype, which was nice.

I really enjoyed this weekend. After school on Friday, one of the Irish student teachers at my school took me out for coffee and lunch. We both started student teaching at Johnstown National Boys School on the same week, and we bonded very quickly. I told her that if she ever visits the U.S., she has a place to stay. For the rest of the weekend, it was nice to stay home with the family, even though my Irish mum was encouraging me to go out on Saturday night. However, I was very happy to spend Saturday night watching The X Factor and football. And, on Sunday, my Irish dad made a fantastic breakfast, complete with two rashers of Irish bacon, two Irish sausages, one egg, and a piece of toast (with Irish butter, of course), and a cup of Irish tea. In other words, it was one amazing Irish breakfast! During breakfast, I watched my first cricket match, which was England versus South Africa.

Next weekend, I am planning on heading to the northern part of the country with Heather, Grace, and Brittney (a Student Teacher from Minnesota).

I am really behind with my pictures (because of my camera issues); therefore, I am going to post twelve! Enjoy! The first picture is my house in Shankill, the second picture is the artwork that I helped teach my 3rd class to do, the third picture is of the Ha’ Penny Bridge, located above the Liffey in Dublin, the fourth picture is Molly Malone and I in Dublin, the fifth picture is of Graftan Street, which is my favorite pedestrian street, the sixth picture is of Trinity College in Dublin, the seventh picture is of the Paddywagon Tour bus, the eighth picture is of Celtic crosses in Clonmacnoise, the ninth picture is of the Cliffs of Moher and myself, the tenth picture is of the Blarney Castle, the eleventh picture is of me, kissing the Blarney Stone, and the twelfth picture is of Irish Step-dancing at the Arlington Hotel in Dublin.

December 2, 2009

week 4 in dublin--Brett

Hello friends, this week has gone by pretty fast. I have been sick all week so it has been a little rough. just a bad cold is all. This weekend was less traveling than we have done so far, but we are going to Rome tomorrow. We hung out in Dublin on Friday night. Saturday Dana and I toured the area near my house since he had not seen it yet. We went up to kiliney hill but it was so foggy we could not see much. After that we walked down to Dalkey village which was pretty cool. Sunday the weather was pretty aweful. It was cold, rainy, and windy. My host dad Frank wanted to go on a walk to give the dog some exercise despite the weather. He got me some rain boots, water proof pants and jacket and we went on about an hour and a half walk. By walk I mean hike really. We went up to the top of one of the mountains for a good view. The view would have been much greater if it had not been raining. It was good craic though. I learned a lot about bird hunting, and training dogs for it. The path we were walking on was more of a river due to all the rain there has been lately.
Back at the house we watched some quality x factor saturday and sunday night along with a little rugby. Ireland beat South Africa in rugby this weekend which was a huge deal because SA was ranked number two in the world. We ate a big dinner because everybody was home this weekend including jessica who lives in the city. I have done a good bit of sleeping this week trying to get over this sickness before my Rome trip. There was supposed to be another teacher strike tomorrow but I believe they called it off. Tonight my Principle Muriel is taking us all to Johnny Fox's for dinner and a show. Tonight is Irish night at the show so it should be a good one. Muriel says she always takes the Americans there. It is also the highest pub in all of Ireland which is neat.
School has gone well this week. Monday I subbed for the second year class. They were a good class so I didnt have any problems. The teacher left them lots of worksheets to keep them busy. I got to teach the part on crossing the road safely. Tuesday was my big PE day, I had four Pe classes. Unfortunately it was raining so we had to do all the classes in the little PE hall. It is hard to fit all of the older kids into that room for over an hour. Plus it is twice as loud in there. We stuck with soccer for the little kids, and handball for the older ones. Today I had senior infants for pe and they usually just play tag games for a little while. Tomorrow we are off to Rome for our last but not least weekend trip. There is so much to see in Rome so we are going to have to cram in as much as we can each day. We will have about three whole days to see the city. Our goal is to do most of out touring on foot to save a little money. Well I am off to break, I will tell more about the Rome trip next week. Have a good one everybody...cheers

December 3, 2009

Grace - Week 4 in Ireland



I had a very busy week this past week. The teachers of Ireland voted, and decided to hold a strike for higher wages. Due to the fact that Rathdown Junior School is a private school, we remained open. Protestors and picketers stood outside of our school as we entered so it turned out to be a rather eventful day. Many of the children in Ireland have never heard of Thanksgiving, so I taught several lessons on the history of Thanksgiving, as well as many of the ways that Americans celebrate the holiday. On Thanksgiving day, the girls brought in cards they had made for me, and even offered a few gifts.


Friday afternoon, I was feeling brave and I decided to do the Cliff Walk from Greystones to Bray. The walk was full of breathtaking views of the Irish coastline, and the weather was perfect. I was able to explore the ruins of old stone houses while being miles away from civilization. The path was lined on both sides with various wildflowers and even fresh blackberries (still growing in December)! I have to admit that after the day long hike to Bray, I was too exhausted to hike back home, so I returned on the Dart.


Saturday I stayed in Dublin with another girl from the US. We went to the National Wax Museum which was full of replicas of famous Irishmen, legends, and musicians. We explored Trinity College, and did a little shopping on Grafton Street. Sunday we went on a Paddywagon tour to the Blarney Castle in southern Ireland. The Blarney Castle was also home to the 12th Century McCarthy Fairytale Fortress. In spite of my better judgment, I kissed the germ infested Blarney Stone (The Legendary Stone of Eloquence). Legend says I will now have 'The Gift of the Gab' for 7 years, but I am praying I don’t get H1N1 as well. We also stopped in Limerick (The setting of Angela's Ashes, and also known as 'stab city'), as well as the Bunratty Castle.



Heather-Week 5 in Ireland!




Hello again from the land of Ireland!
I can hardly believe that I only have a week left and have to leave next Thursday! My leave will be bittersweet because I am not happy about leaving all the new friends I have met here at school as well as my wonderful family, but I will be excited to get back home to my family and graduation three days upon my arrival! I have had such a wonderful time here in Ireland and I think six weeks is a great amount of time to experience the culture in another country!

This past weekend, Ericka and I once again went to the city center of Dublin to explore! We actually went on Friday night so we would be able to walk around and see the beautiful Christmas lights around the town! On Saturday and Sunday, I pretty much relaxed at home due to the fact that the weekend before I had been on a paddywagon tour and then I plan on going on another paddywagon tour this coming weekend, so I decided to relax and rest throughout Saturday and Sunday. However, on Sunday I went to church with my family and got to hear my irish sister sing, O Holy Night, during the service!

My Irish family is beginning to listen to Christmas carols nearly every night! I have noticed that the christmas carols here are the same as the ones in America, but some of them have different melodies and tunes. I thought it was pretty awesome though that the songs contain the same lyrics. As I have been around Dublin and walked around my neighborhood, it is clear to see that Christmas is near! Lights are being put up everywhere and christmas carols are heard in various restaurants and attractions!

Over the past week at Rathdown Junior School, I got the opportunity to substitute the P2 class for an entire day of school due to the P2 teacher being absent. The students were very well behaved for me and I felt like we were very productive in getting things done. It was an exciting experience for me because it was the first time I had been teaching in a classroom by myself because I had been used to having at least the assistant teacher back in the US during my student teaching. I felt like we had a very successful day!

Also, Rathdown Junior School has taken two field trips over the past week and Grace and I were able to attend the field trips as well free of charge! The first field trip was a pantomime at the Gaiety Theatre in the city centre of Dublin. I had never been to a pantomime before, so it was such a spelendid experience for me. It reminded me of a broadway play that would be shown in New York City. The pantomime was called Jack and the Beanstalk, but it incorporated several fairy tale stories into one show. It was very entertaining and it was neat to see how they incorporated pop songs into the show so that the kids would truly enjoy the performance. What a special treat it was!

Grace and I actually got to spend the day in Dublin after attending the patomime, Jack and the Beanstalk. We took a very long walk to Phoenix Park, which is Dublin's biggest park. It is a very relaxing place to walk and contains lots of beautiful scenery such as the President's house! We also were able to attend a choralsong service at St. Patrick's Cathedral as well. There were only six of us at the service, so the pastor allowed us to sit in the back rows of the choir pews while attending the service. It was such a special experience that I will never forget! The choir did an amazing job and the cathedral was absolutely gorgious inside!

The second field trip took place at the RDS Ice Skating rink! I hadn't been ice skating for quite a while, so it was harder than I remembered it would be! However, it was such a great bonding experience with the students because they would want to hold my hands while skating around the rink. The girls were very well behaved and ended up having a grand time as well as myself! I also enjoyed skating because there were christmas carols being played during our skating session! What a wonderful time we had!

One thing I am really noticing now that I didn't notice as much before is how this trip has really helped me to step out of my comfort zone. I am encouraged now to travel to more places and not let fear get in the way! This trip has also allowed me to see the differences between America and Ireland in various ways! I am just very shocked how many similarities Ireland has with America and also how I feel that everyone in Ireland loves Americans! I have felt very welcomed here and I would love to come back in the near future!

The pictures above represent three pictures from my ice skating experience at the RDS skating rink! I was able to take several pictures of the girls throughout our time together!

Bye Bye for now until next week!
Cheers!(which means thank you here in Ireland)

Grace - Week 5 Ireland

Hello Again from Dublin!

I had mixed emotions coming into my final full week here in Ireland. I am sad that my time in this amazing country is coming to an end, but I am full of an excited feeling about graduating and return to my life that I left behind.

Rathdown School had several surprises in store for me this week. The KG students in our school (ages 3, 4, and 5) were going on their winter trip to the Gaiety Theater in Dublin City Center, and I was asked to help chaperone. I was honored to go, but I had no idea what to expect. The Gaiety Theater was much how I would imagine Broadway to look, with elaboarate decorations and crystal chandeliers. We went to see The much-loved traditional pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. The show was full of singing and dancing, with a full orchestra performing the music. However, there was nothing 'traditional' about the show. A man dressed in drag was one of the main chatacters, and frequently the performers broke out in songs and dances such as 'Single Ladies' by Beyonce, or 'Party in the U.S.A.' After loading the children back onto the bus, I decided to stay in Dublin for the afternoon. I walked to Pheonix Park, where the Dublin Zoo is located, as well as the President's home. I then made my way to St. Patrick's Cathedril to attend a traditional Choral Evensong. There was only a hand full of people attending the service, so I was invited to sit in the choir chambers behind the choir. I turned around to check out the elaboarate chair I was seated in, when I noticed that my family crest was above me. I just happened to sit in the chair of one of the origional founders of the church, who was also a Cunningham. There was something wonderful and moving about being in a cathedral listening to a boy#s chior sing psalms. The next day I was invited by the school to go Ice Skating with the upper grades. Much to my suprise, I was actually good at skating, and believe it or not, I didn't fall a single time. I left feeling very blessed to have been placed in such a wonderful school.



My host mom and the principal of my school arranged for myself and the other students from ASU to go to the world famous Johnny Fox's, the 'highest pub in Ireland ,' which is located in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains. This traditional Irish pub doesn't look like much from the outside - or the inside (with sawdust floors), but was the most amazing experience. We were served a 3 course meal, followed by an amazing show. A four piece band played traditional music and sang songs about Molly Malone, Dublin Summers, and Galway Girls. My favorite part came next with the traditional Irish dancing. One of the men on stage was also a dancer for the world famous Riverdance.



As the week is coming to a close, I have planned to go to Northern Ireland for my final trip. Myself and three other girls from the states will travel into Belfast where we will take a Paddywagon tour to the Giant's Causeway and Derry.



week 4 Jerry

Well other than my final week 5 journal entry, my college career is officially over. This was our last week at San Ambrosio because the schools in Costa Rica are letting out for their summer vacation. It was a crazy hectic week with testing, end of the year activities, and myself trying to finish what little I could with all of my classes. As a whole I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity and experience to teach at San Ambrosio, but like I have said before, it was a very frustrating time and experience. Even though I speak enough Spanish to communicate and hold a small conversation, I was left in the dark on several different occasions when it came down to the last couple days of school. I only saw half of my classes and school ended a day earlier than they had told us at the beginning of the week. There were only three students from my high school classes that completed their stencil piece due to lack of time. The 5th and 6th grade classes came nowhere close to finishing their alien heads and in fact I didn’t even have class with the 5th grade the last week. 3rd grade got to finish most of their pirate comics that they had been working on, whereas 4th grade did not because I did not meet with them as well on the last week of school. Finally 1st and 2nd grade for the most part were able to finish their paper cities but most of them were severely destroyed because there was no safe place to keep them from week to week. Again I am certainly not complaining but just being realistic in the grand scheme of things. As much as I am enjoyed San Ambrosio, I am ready to get out of Nicoya and be a college graduate.
Dani, Kayla, and I are catching a bus tomorrow morning at 4:45 to Nosara where we will be walking and/or hitch hiking to my favorite place in Costa Rica, Ostional. Hopefully we will get to see some turtles here considering Ostional is a world famous beach for turtle nesting. Once a month from spring till fall, thousands of turtles return to Ostional to lay their eggs in the secluded and tranquil town of Ostional. Here we will be staying with my good Tico friend Ludi and his family. From here I will be saying goodbye to Kayla and Dani as they return to Nicoya and continue their last week in Costa Rica site seeing. As for me I will be headed up the coast on Monday to Nicaragua to visit some good friends of mine from back home on the Outer Banks who are staying in the town of Las Salinas for a week. Hopefully I will score some surf and certainly get to explore the country of Nicaragua in the company of some good life long friends. One more week to go and I am a free man.

Week 4 in Nicoya

Week 4 is coming to a close, as is San Ambrosio´s 2009 school year. Dani and I are preparing for our travels for the last 13 days that we have in Costa RIca!!!

At the end of last week school was out for Teacher´s Day. All of the teachers went to a ranch right outside of Nicoya. There we had snacks and the teachers danced and sang karaoke! They were also making fresh pork rinds, which was interesting to watch!

The English Day that I have been preparing my students for was held on Monday. The student´s performances went well, but it was a task to get the audience foscues and listening to the presentations. The assembly was held in the area between the elementary and highschool classrooms, so it was open and all the students were packed in on one side. So it makes things slightly difficult because the students are standing there for a while and then they have to sit on the concrete for a long time. It would be beneficial for San Ambrosio to have an area where assemblies could be held where the students would have somewhere to sit that was more comfortable and less distracting.
Here are some pictures from English Day!

As the school year is ending there is a lack of structure at school. Students seem to come and go as they want, and the bells at school are not on time so I am never sure when I need to leave to go to my next class. On my second to last day I was unable to teach any of my students. I came to school ready to teach fifth grade only to find out they were going to a pool party. So I had to wait till after lunch to see gourth grade. When I got to fourth grade over half of my class was missing, I was told that they were practicing dances somewhere else in the school. The students that I was left with played for the remainder of the day. I tried to go to my third grade class but they were all missing too. So, I spent the rest of the day sitting at the school watching all of my students playing! This was very hard for me to understand because the schedule just all of a sudden went crazy and I felt that all of my students could have used more review of the topics that had been studying because I had three students in fourth grade to pass their exam. But instead they played. We went to school the next day, which was Wednesday and the school had Mass at the Catholic Church I went to with Karla my first week here. After Mass, we went back to school and there my fourth graders and an performance group from Snata Cruz did dances and skits. This was also unexpected, as we thought we were going back to school for classes. On Wednesday the principal decided that it was the last day of school! Thursday was supposed to be the last day of school. I was a little upset by this because I didn´t get to see my students Tuesday or Wednesday, so I did not get to tell them goodbye and some of them did not receive their gifts from me because they were gone the day that I handed them out. But now, here we are Thanksgiving Day, no school and we are getting ready to prepare Thanksgiving Dinner. And, I have to say that I am thankful for the education system that we have in the states!
Starting some traveling on Firday..so see ya next week!

Maria-- Week 5 in Mexico!

This week has been really great! If you read my last update, you know that I was writing from a small town named Zacatecas, where I spent a short break that I had. The rest of my time there was just as much fun as the first part. In fact, I think I would have stayed forever if I could have! One night, I even got to go to the Lighting of the Christmas Tree celebration in the town square. It was very neat to how the whole town came together for this one event which, I didnt realize until I got back to the hostel, lasted about 3 hours!


On Sunday, when I returned to GDL, I got to do another thing that I have been dying to do... I got to go the Corrida del Toros (Running of the Bulls)! Even more interesting, this one showcased child toreros. Although some things were a little different, such as the children not beign allowed to actually kill the bull like usual, this was the last event of the season and I still feel that it was a great cultural experience. It was very stressful to sit there and watch people so close to such a dangerous animal, but it was also lots of fun to hear the shouts of "Ole!" all around and to take in what a huge part of Mexican culture this event is. I loved every minute of it!




This week at school has been good, although you can tell the students know the holiday season is quickly approaching. They are starting to go crazy, and being an international school, students and their families are beginning to take trips to visit family and friends in many different countries. It is also very interesting to see the wide variety of holidays celebrated by students around the school, and to hear about the family traditions. While I am here, my teacher has wanted to go ahead and study the traditions of Christmas with our class, since she wants the students to learn about Christmas traditions in the United States. Earlier this week, we did a lesson using "The Night Before Christmas" by C.C. Moore, a very traditional story. I have also been teaching a lot of math lately. We just started a unit on addition with regrouping. This has been really fun to teach so far and the students seems to be understanding it pretty well.


I cant believe that in just 7 short days, I will be on my way back to NC. My time here is flown by so quickly and it is hard to think that I only have four days left with my class. I know the next week is going to fly by!

Nos vemos! See you later!

Fifth week in Nicoya!

WOW! What a week! Since school ended the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Dani and I set out to explore and experience the beauty of Costa Rica Friday monring, after a wonderful American Thanksgiving meal! For Thanksgiving Karla prepared a Paula Deen style turkey and sweet potato casserole (with Costa Rican sweet potatoes of course), we also served a few more dishes and made up a pitcher of sweet tea! You can´t get more American and Southern than that!! We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner with some of Karla´s firends and new friends that we have made during our stay here! It was very nice, we shared the tradition of our Thanksgiving of going around before dinner and saying what you are thankful for! It was great to share our American way of Thanksgiving with our Costa Rican friends.

Friday morning we woke up early and headed to Ostional excited to see a black sand beach and the Olive Ridley sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs! After one broken down bus, a very bumpy ride on another, and an 40 min walk we finally arrived in Ostional. We went striaght to the beach when we got there and were able to see quite a few turtles coming out of the ocean to lay eggs! Ostional is an area where scientists and biologists study the Ridley turtles. Also in this area Ostional villagers are able to legally harvest turtle eggs in the first 36 hours of an arrival of eggs. So, while we were walking along the beach they were many Ticos laying on the beach digging holes in search of a nest. This was interesting to learn about because even though a small percentage of turtles actually survive after birth, the community is allowed to remove some the eggs that may possibly survive for commercial purposes. Yet, there are many nests on the beach that are blocked off and villagers cannot collect eggs from these areas.

After we left Ostional we traveled to Costa Rica´s surf capital Playa Tamarindo. There we just spent time on the beach enjoying the beautiful weather and swimming in the clear blue water! Dani and I just returned today from La Fortuna and we had a great time. While in La Fortuna we visited three hot springs, the Arenal Volcano, and we rappelled down 4 waterfalls, one that was 220 feet tall! We also ziplined at Los Lagos Resort! We had an amazing time, got some great pictures, and really got to experience the beauty of Costa Rica like we wanted! For the remainder of our time here we plan to visit some more beaches and soak up as much sun as we can before returning to NC!!!

December 4, 2009

Dani - Week 5

This past week has been exciting and full of traveling and experiencing new things! Since our students finished school last week, Kayla and I have been seeing different parts of Costa Rica with only one of them including Jerry since he decided to go surfing and head to Nicaragua.

Last Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving with dinner at Karla´s house (which is where Kayla and I have been staying). We had over the neighbors and some friends we have met here in Nicoya. For dinner we had a turkey (cooked Paula Deen style by Karla), gravy, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cheese casserole, corn, macaroni and cheese, a salad and veggie tray, and (of course) some good ´ol southern sweet tea! Before we ate, everyone went around and said what they were thankful for this year since thats something we do back home in the States.

That next Friday Jerry, Kayla and I headed to Ostional to hang out. We took a bus that dropped us off in Nosara (after breaking down on the way there and moving to a different bus) and then the three of us walked the way to Ostional... with a couple of rides along the way. While at Ostional, we got to see some turtles coming up on the beach to lay their eggs and some who just made a u-turn after deciding it was probably too much of a struggle to go any further. Ostional is a small town and one of their main sources of income comes from the turtle eggs. Many nests are protected, but the locals are allowed a certain amount of time in which they are allowed to dig up eggs from the nests and collect the eggs to sell for food. It was definitely interesting to see the beach covered with people digging up the eggs and to see the turtles up close.


Kayla and I came back to Nicoya on Saturday and helped our neighbor´s daughter, Adriana, celebrate her 18th birthday! She had a lot of friends over and her mom cooked some amazing tipical food. There was also birthday cake, of course!


On Sunday Kayla and I were dropped off at Tamarindo which is a very popular beach, especially for surfing. There were a lot of English-speaking people there so it was easy for us to get around. The beach was beautiful and the water was cool and clear. Boats were scattered right off of the coast all day and surfers were out on the opposite end. It wasn´t too crowded when Kayla and I were there, though when it gets closer to the Holidays I´m sure it will be.


After Tamarindo we headed to La Fortuna which was about a 5 hour drive on the Interbus. In La Fortuna we stayed at a Hostel called Gringo Petes´ for $4 a night and got some super deals on activities we wanted to do. We visited Baldi Hot Springs one afternoon and caught a volcano tour that same night with another hot springs that was right off the side of the road and free to visit. The volcano tour was a bit of a disappointment because it was cloudy and we weren´t able to see any lava.. but we met some interesting people that were in our group! The next day we went canyoning/rappeling in the morning. This was by far my favorite part of our trip to La Fortuna! We had great tour guides and slid down waterfalls, jumped into small pools of water and rappelled down a 220 foot waterfall! That afternoon we went zip lining through the canopy and saw some toucans right above us in the trees! We spent the rest of that afternoon relaxing in some more hot springs at a place called Los Lagos.




I have loved being able to travel around and experience more of Costa Rica. It has been a fun challenge to be getting around on our own without Karla´s help. The people here are so friendly, especially the other travelers we have met from the States, Germany, Australia, Switzerland and Canada! I really enjoy the culture and am sad that we´ll be leaving this warm weather in less than a week... but I am very much looking forward to returning home and graduating!

Adios from Nicoya!


December 6, 2009

Week 5 Jerry

I think it is safe to say that everyone looks back at the end of their college career and is thankful that they made it through. Add me to that list because I reckon this blog entry is the last and final part of my college career. Like I said last week, classes at San Ambrosio finished on Thanks Giving day and I have been spending my whole week in a small surf town on the southwest part of Nicaragua, its called Las Salinas. It has been great catching up with old friends that are visiting Las Salinas and I have made some new friends from Nicaragua and Brazil. I have been surfing everyday which is always a plus but I have also had some time to give and bless the people of Nicaragua.
On Wednesday, my friends and I drove up into the mountains near Las Salinas and were able to give a very small community a whole truck bed full of clothes and athletic equipment. Before we arrived to the masses, we were able to give to one family and their friends. I enjoyed this much more than our next destination simply because it was more intimate and personal. The next village we arrived in was quite different, in fact it was very overwhelming. While it truly is better to give than receive, the rate in which these people took was extremely humbling and sad. We pulled up to a house along a dry dusty road and my Nicaraguan friend got out to talk to the family of the house where we had stopped. The whole family of 8 came out including their 95 year old grandma. As soon as we started handing stuff out the people started pouring out of everywhere. It was quite astonishing that without any electricity or telephones, the whole village was aware that we were there and that we were giving away clothes for all ages, baseballs, soccer balls, footballs, baseball gloves, baseball helmets, and even a volleyball. At first it was nice because we were able to talk to the people and figure out what they needed, but this only lasted for a second and it got a little out of hand. We were giving away so much stuff so fast that before we knew it the whole truck was empty, including some things that we didn’t want to give away or weren’t supposed to give away, including my hat that my friends 5 year old son threw out the window and was quickly snatched by an old lady never to return to my head, ha. At one point we had to guard the inside of the truck to make sure people were not taking stuff out of inside the cab. We finally got things settled down and were able to share with these people the real reason we were there. Yes it is nice to give and yes these are good works but my friends in I believe that good works don’t make good people, but good people do good works. What we were saying is that the reason why we give is because we follow a God who has given more than we can ever imagine, and his name is Jesus. As soon as the crowd hushed down a little, my Nicaraguan friend stood on top of the truck and read some passages from the gospel of John. When we left we all felt good about giving but even better about sharing the good news of Jesus.
I guess you could say that I am a pretty different guy, and in more ways than one at that. With that being said, I have already said my goodbyes to Boone and App State and will not be returning to walk during the graduation ceremony. Instead I will be living in Costa Rica until about March, only to return back to Hatteras Island where I grew up and will probably live the rest of my life. Although I could teach in Hatteras and live there forever, I am just going to take it one day at a time and try not to think that far ahead.

December 7, 2009

Ericka Griffin - Week Five in Ireland

This week was very eventful at school. I was never sure which class I was going to end up in. Monday, I was not very happy about the situation I was in. One of the resource teachers used me as a teaching assistant, rather than a student teacher. I spent most of my day in the copy room, rather than the classroom. And, when I was done with copies, the teacher would tell me to organize papers and the room, as if I was not qualified to interact with the students.

However, Tuesday and Wednesday were good experiences. I went to another 3rd class (Mrs. Cruise’s), and her class was wonderful. I had a lot of fun interacting with her students. They taught me how to play Irish Snap, which is a card game. The objective of the game is to randomly flip over Irish cards with illustrations and Irish words. If a pair shows up in the pile, you slap the cards and you gain the entire pile. The objective of the game is to obtain all of the cards. Similar to my other 3rd class, I showed these boys the U.S.’s currency, my driver’s license, and my passports. Most of the boys had already seen American money, but were still thrilled to look at it and touch it.

On Thursday, I observed a 4th class (9 year-olds). The class had a very similar curriculum, except more advanced, to that of a 3rd class. My favorite part of the day was towards the end of the day, the teacher grabbed an acoustic guitar, and the teacher and the students began to sing. After going over the words with the students, the teacher allowed the boys to sing solo or as a group. It was absolutely wonderful to sit and listen to the children sing.

Friday, I had taken a train to Belfast, along with Heather, Grace, and Brittney (our friend from Minnesota). After settling at the Linen House Hostel, we decided to take a Black Taxi Tour of Belfast. Our tour guide was amazing! He told us the history of the political feud between the British and the Irish. He drove us to the Protestant side of the city, where we were able to see the political murals on the buildings. Next, he took us to see “The Wall,” or what he called, “The ‘Berlin Wall’ of Belfast,” which is the wall that divides the two sectors of the city. After taking pictures of “The Wall,” he took us to the Catholic side of the city. The Catholic side of the city contained “The Peace Wall,” where the faces of those who perished in times of turmoil and civil unrest were displayed. The memorial garden contained plaques, which listed the names of the Catholics who had perished. Overall, it was a very enjoyable and thought-provoking experience, and I would recommend it to anyone who is visiting Belfast.

On Saturday, Heather, Grace, Brittney and I took a one-day Paddywagon Tour of Giant’s Causeway and Derry. The bus picked us up in Belfast, and we drove to the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. The bridge was built by fishermen, who used to cross it, in order to get to the salmon that were caught in the curvature of the rock formation down below. After seeing the bridge, we visited Giant’s Causeway, which was my favorite part of the day. It was absolutely incredible to see such unusual rock formations, which were created by volcanic eruptions. After seeing Giant’s Causeway, we drove to Derry, where we had dinner. Derry, like Belfast, was also politically divided. In fact, when we arrived, news of a Protestant political march had spread. As we drove off, leaving for Belfast, we heard the band and the marching of the Protestants. Our Paddywagon tour guide/driver was nice enough to drive us all the way back to Dublin, which was wonderful because we did not have to take the train. It had been such an eventful weekend, on Sunday, I decided to rest all day, and I did not make any plans. I am very thankful that I did not, because I was well-rested for Monday.

Again, I have not had access to another computer, so I cannot upload pictures yet. As soon as I gain access to a computer with a working USB connection, I will upload pictures.

December 9, 2009

Week 5 in Ireland and Italy - Dana Smith

This week was the best week of my life. It began with the worst week in Ireland though. I got sick with a sinus infection and felt terrible for days. After a quick recovery we went to a place called Johnnie Fox's which is the highest pub in Ireland by elevation. There we got a 3 course dinner, traditional Irish music and Irish dancing. This was an amazing experience and I loved every minute of it. The teachers at my school also went because it was for their Christmas party as a staff and it happened to be that we were going too. The next day began an amazing trip to Italy. Brett and I got on a plane and flew to Italy and spent a few days. We saw the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, The Vatican and The Sistine Chapel. We saw lots of other buildings as well. We can now go to Rome and get around pretty good because of being able to walk everywhere to see the sights. Without a doubt the most eventful, exciting and educational trip I have ever been on. Today was my last day at school too. It was sad seeing the students and staff off but I knew I had to. I got lots of cards, a calender of Ireland and a DVD of a very funny Irish show called Father Ted. I did a lot of PE lessons today and let the students pick their games to play. It was a very fun day but sad at the end. Overall I am so glad that I got to experience this teaching in Ireland and traveling. It was an eye opening experience and one I will never forget.


















Heather-Week 6 Ireland! Last week!




Hello again from Ireland!
I am sad to say that this is my last night in Ireland! Wow, time has surely flown by these past two weeks!!! What a wonderful time I have had though!

So, this past weekend, Ericka, Brittney, Grace and I did a one day paddywagon tour of the Giants Causeway and Derry. The Giant's causeway was definitely a breathtaking experience! The Giants Causeway is composed of various cliffs and basalt columns. The picture that I have above is a representation of the Giant's Causeway. We were able to climb different rocks on the causeway and meet friends from other places so it was just a wonderful, must see experience that I will never forget!

Also, this past week in school, some of the teachers at my school asked me if I would teach cheerleading to their girls. So I had a small cheerleading class in the assembly hall this afternoon where I was able to teach the girls some basic cheerleading motions, and two Rathdown cheers that I had made up for them. It was such an exciting experience because they loved it and I loved it. I was able to share my passion with students that did not realize cheerleading was even a sport. What an awesome opportunity it was for me! I was also notified that they would use the cheers at their future hockey matches so that filled me with joy! The picture above represents the small cheerleading class I conducted in the assembly hall today.

Well, I had to say my goodbyes today to the students and faculty at Rathdown Junior School. It was a bitter-sweet moment because I am very excited about returning to the United States and seeing friends and family and graduating from Appalachian State University, but I was sad to leave all the friends I had made and especially my P2 students who I have worked with every day over the past six weeks. The picture above represents a group hug that the students gave me before I left their classroom. I am so thankful that I got placed at Rathdown Junior School because I couldn't have asked for more respect or kindness from the students and teachers! I also was able to engage in further teaching experiences in various subjects!

Throughout my student teaching experience at Rathdown Junior School, I have grown as a teacher and an individual. I learned how to adapt to cultural differences and various teaching methods while student teaching at Rathdown School. This has helped me become more confident in meeting the needs of all students. Also, I have gained a higher appreciation for interactive, engaging lessons due to the lack of hands on lessons that were taught at Rathdown Junior School. Most of the lessons that were taught were taken right out of a book or workbook and then students were continuously reading and then writing answers to questions. I realize that text books and worksheets are useful at times but I felt that the students were not getting as much learning out of the lessons as they should have gained. I was able to incorporate a few educational math games to reinforce addition and subtraction skills, and it brought much excitement to the classroom.

In addition, I was encouraged by this experience to step out of my comfort zone at various times due to the different location, language, and culture. It allowed me to be more open minded as a teacher and encouraged me to embrace diversity in the classroom. Another thing that I noticed was the amount of respect given by the students toward the teachers at Rathdown Junior School. Due to the amount of respect that was present in the classroom, the students were driven to do their best work at all times and felt comfortable with asking questions throughout various lessons. I hope to create the same type of atmosphere and gain respect in my future classroom.

I will also be sad to leave my Irish family tomorrow morning! They have been so wonderful to me at all times! I am so glad I got to spend the end of my college experience in Ireland! I hope to take what I have learned from my international student teaching experience and apply it in my future classroom. This student teaching experience has also helped me to become a more independent individual! I am now very encouraged to travel more in the near future! I also hope to stay in touch with the friends I have made here and come back sometime in the future to visit again!

Thank you Dr. Angel and Diane Middleton for coordinating our International Student Teaching Program at Appalachian State University!! Thank you for helping me to become a stronger individual and teacher!

Back to the US i go!

December 11, 2009

Goodbye Guadalajara!

What a journey the past six weeks have been! There have been exciting times, frustrating times, happy and sad times, but through all, I can say that I have learned much and thoroughly enjoyed this unforgettable experience.

One thing that has truly inspired me during my time here is how the teachers at ASFG really do seek to do more than just teach their students-- they seek to turn them into individuals and great leaders. I know this was a constant topic of conversation in many of my classes at ASU, but to see it truly put into action has been a great learning experience for me. Here is an example: Last week three 2nd graders got up at our weekly flag assembly and shared the following message with their student body... Two of the girls, on their own time, had been reading "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortensen. They were very inspired by it and knew that there must be something they could do to help the education system in the Middle East. So they approached their teacher with the idea of a class project. Their teacher loved their idea so much that she encouraged them to go talk to the principal, and thus was born their school-wide (Pre-school thru 12th grade) campaign, called "Pesos for Peace". They have challenged every student in the school to give at least one peso in the next three weeks, and daily collect and count the money. As of this past week, they had already collected over 1500 pesos and are still going around to talk to classes about why what they are doing is so important. These are true leaders, and true leaders are never born without someone (maybe a teacher) to help them develop leadership skills. All I can really say to this is "WOW!"

Another huge thing that I have learned about teaching while here is how to integrate well. Throughout my time at ASU, this was something professors always urged us to do, but many of them also assumed that we already knew how to created a well integrated lesson. I would agree that this is very important, but this isnt something I had ever really learned how to do well. I was taking shots in the dark and hoping for the best. Because the studenst at ASFG receive 1/2 the instructional day in English and the other 1/2 in Spanish, a teacher's instructional time is greatly decreased, thus making it that much more important to integrate subject matter and to do it well. Spending time in an environment where integration is not just something that is good if it happens, but a necessity, has helped me to understand how to integrate subject matter well, as well as how much more valuable instruction can be when subjects are integrated. My teacher, Ms. Ivette, has a been teacher to learn from, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to spend six weeks learning from such a devoted and skilled professional.

My teacher, Ms. Ivette, and I

Although working with second language learners did provide a bit of a challenge at times, it was also lots of fun to see them learning, understanding new concepts, and taking in so much new knowledge and vocabulary like a sponge. Also, it was very difficult for to work a group of students from affluent homes, as that is not where my passion lies. Sometimes discipline was very difficult with this particular group of students, and at times I felt completely defeated, as they made it very obvious that they were used to being in charge and had no intentions of listening to the gringa who had only come into their lives for such a short period of time. However, it was interesting to see that, just as with many experiences I have had in the US, the ones who resisted discipline the most, were also the ones who were the saddest on my last day.



Overall, my experience outside of school was fabulous! I really enjoyed learning about Mexican culture and trying to immerse myself into it during my time in this huge city. I was very lucky to get to travel around some, as well as being a part of several true Mexican traditions such as the traditional Mexican fiesta, mariachi bands, and the Corrida del Toros (Running of the Bulls). And although the Health Departments in the US would surely not approve of many of the places I ate, I thorougly enjoyed getting to eat traditional Mexican cuisine daily. This included anything from fresh made quesadillas, tortas ahogadas, chilaquiles, and enchiladas, to a big ol' scoop of refried beans from the pot that had been sitting on the stove going on four days.

I would trade this experience for nothing else in the world, and cant wait to apply the things I have learned into my life as a teacher and professional, as I start my own journey of impacting children and creating leaders daily.

A beautiful view of the sunset on my trip to Zacatecas!

Adios Amigos!

December 12, 2009

Dani - Week 6

This past week was spent traveling again as we have been done with teaching at San Ambrosio since Thanksgiving. I really did enjoy my time at the school in spite of all the frustrations that seemed to come along with it. It was a good experience to have and I would recommend it for anyone to try at least once. I now truly understand the importance for classroom management and how it needs to be implemented in that very first week of school. If not the rest of the year is a struggle to get through and a lot of time will be wasted with discipline issues like some that I had to deal with in my classroom(s) in Costa Rica.

Even though I can't say this experience was not always great for me or that its been my favorite trip overseas, I definitely took a lot away from it and I think I will be a better teacher now because of it. My patience has been tried and stretched from the students at San Ambrosio as well as from working with the other teachers. I know I have said it repeatedly, but I think the biggest thing I got from it was an appreciation for classrooms in the States and how much more organized it is. I also feel like we have more freedom here to do what we want with the curriculum. We do have set standards to meet, but we are free to teach in whatever style best suits us and our classroom. It isn't limited to lecture and teaching from a text book word for word and answering questions afterward.

One of the main reasons I decided to take this opportunity was to get some experience in an international school because I wanted to travel overseas at some point to teach. I still think I would like to do this at some point in my life, however I don't know that I would want to teach English in a Hispanic country unless it was on the high school level. I know not every school overseas is going to be like San Ambrosio, so things may be done differently elsewhere, but for now I will remain in the States and get a job wherever I can in the schools!

These are some monkeys that were climbing around in the palm trees at Playa Samara!

This is during the 'Festival of Lights' parade in downtown Nicoya. There were many school bands like this one that walked in the parade and played music.

This is Marty, a rescued kinkajou who lives at the zoo at Playa Carillo, which is just a short drive from Playa Samara. He is very friendly and good with humans, but because of this he will never be able to be released back into the wild.

December 14, 2009

Ericka Griffin - Week Six in Ireland & Closing Statements

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The first picture is of Belfast and “The Eye of Belfast.” My second picture is of the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The third picture is of me at Giants Causeway. The fourth picture is of the name of my school (Johnstown Boys National School). The fifth is a picture of the entrance into my school. And, the sixth picture is the church that the students and I went to on Tuesday.

My last week in Ireland came too fast—I was not ready to leave! On Monday, I spent time with my 3rd class students (my primary class, also known as Mrs. Beham’s class), which was amazing! The boys had missed not seeing me for a couple of weeks. I was also able to witness a class rehearsal of their Christmas play, which was the cutest production I had ever seen. They had invited me to see the actual production, but unfortunately, I was going to be back in the U.S. It broke my heart that I could not see their production. Monday morning (before school started), one of the resource teachers invited me back to her classroom, so I accepted and joined her class on Tuesday.

Tuesday was very different from the other school days because it was a holy day. The entire school (including myself) went to eleven o’clock mass at the church next door. The mass was about the Conception of Virgin Mary. In other words, Mary being informed by the angel, Gabriel that she is pregnant with baby Jesus. If the students were not of the Catholic faith, they were given the option to go to the mass, but they also had the option to stay in a supervised classroom (back at school). Before and after mass, I had worked with Mrs. Ryan’s resource students, again, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I helped the children with Monsters Inc. puzzles, as well as assisted them playing an educational game on the computer.

My last day of student teaching at Johnstown Boys National School was on Wednesday, since I was leaving Thursday morning. Since it was my last day at the school, I took pictures of the building and the mosaics that are found around the grounds. I spent my last day in Ms. Gillick’s 6th class, which I had yet to observe. The boys were a lot more disciplined than the 3rd class boys. The teacher even left the room briefly a couple of times, and the boys continued their GAA projects, as if she had never left. I noticed that the older boys kept their school books and supplies in tubs under their desk, rather than in the “press” (cabinets).

Thursday morning, I refused to say goodbye to my family, the McBain’s. I know one day I will see them, again. Words cannot describe the McBain’s because they are such a wonderful family. They were very hospitable, and they treated me as a guest in their home. I had such an amazing time getting to know them, and they provided me with so much information about the culture, the customs, and the history of their country. The experience was unbelievable, because the learning never ended at school, it only continued at home. I plan on keeping in touch with them via e-mail and/or letters.

Overall, looking back on this entire experience, I am very glad that I made the decision to continue my Student Teaching in Ireland. One of the challenges I handled was transitioning from teaching high school students to primary students. Before I came to Ireland, I was teaching seniors at Holly Springs High School. From teaching seniors English to teaching a 3rd class English is a huge transition, and it really caught me off guard. One of the biggest differences between secondary school and primary school is the classroom management. It took me a week and a half to get use to the constant noise of students talking amongst each other. Also, I noticed that as a primary teacher, you have to supervise and discipline more than in high school. At Johnstown BNS, I noticed that I would have to repeat myself, in order to get the students’ attention. Despite all of the disciplining, the boys were absolutely wonderful, intelligent boys. Mrs. Beham’s boys and I had so much fun reading Cool! by Michael Morpurgo together. I feel like buying the book, just in remembrance of the boys. My favorite memory was the boys asking me, while completing other work, “Ericka, are we going to be reading Cool! today?” Now, if I could get my future high school students to ask that same question, I would be a very happy teacher.

The boys were so amazing and fun to teach, it made leaving all the more a challenge. If Christmas was not around the corner, it would have been harder riding the plane home. This experience has truly encouraged me to pursue my dream to go overseas, as soon as I find a job. Even though I was not able to teach in a secondary school, I had such a great experience at Johnstown BNS. Thank you, Mr. Cadogan, for allowing me to Student Teach at your school. I am truly grateful that Appalachian State University had the International Student Teaching program. It was an experience I will never forget!

About December 2009

This page contains all entries posted to International Student Teaching Fall 2009 in December 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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