Monday, June 30, 2014

Guo lai ba!


Sort of.  I can feel the start of worrying about my trip back home.  It's like a crying baby at the back of an airplane when I'm sitting at the front.  I can't faintly hear its annoyance, but I'm able to put on my headphones and rock through the flight.  Soon enough though, that baby is going to be screaming and sitting in the seat right next to me.

It's only eventual, but for now I'm basking in the ignorant bliss of not thinking about July 30th.

How am I basking?  Well, literally this summer is going to be the hottest Pohnpei has seen in a while, so I'm partially cooking my beautiful pasty skin.  I'm also working for Upward Bound as a geometry teacher for high school juniors, and I must say I'm probably the coolest math teacher there ever was.

Ex. Did your teacher ever explain parallel lines to you like this:  a boyfriend and a girlfriend just broke up and they never want to see each other again.  So they make an agreement to always stay the same distance from each other on their lines they walk through town.  Hence, PARALLEL LINES!

Nothing can keep high school students more awake than faint references of dating the opposite sex; I use this to my advantage.

I'm also trying to crunch down on learning Chinese before I leave go in September, and I'm slowly improving.  Watching t.v. shows is going to hopefully boost my skills and increase my knowledge of soap operas.  Wo bu ai ni!

For now, this is all I can write.  Zai zhen, and I'll see you all soon!

Friday, June 20, 2014

30 Days Has September, April, June, and November

I keep having to sing that song to myself.  It reminds me, as it did in school, that June and many other months are too weak to have thirty-one days.  It reminds me that somewhere after June there's that dirty month of July, creeping and hiding behind.  In a way, the song reminds me of this: use your time wisely Nick.

Let's step into the looking glass for a second.  1/10 of a score and 12 days ago, my fore-self brought forth myself onto Pohnpei.  I can remember training as only a clear blur.  A clear and shitty blur; however, I made it though.

Yesterday I just had the opportunity to be an "Expert" on starting secondary sports activities.  The Peace Corps Trainees were eager to learn more about how to start their own sports journeys.  I presented my travels of flailing my way through my sports career here on Pohnpei while trying to play down the "Expert" title during the speech.  However much I would have loved to attach the Ex. onto the end of my name (I assume that's the "formal" abbreviated way.  Also, why am I using "quotations"?  Who knows?), I found myself utterly surprised by two things yesterday.  

One - I have become the Peace Corps Volunteers who I saw during training.  I give the same advice or what I hope to give: the lack thereof.  Being a Peace Corps Volunteer has been all about going the journey by myself [OF COURSE with the help of some nice care packages (:].  It has been about finding out about myself through trial and too much error.  It has been about learning culture by making cultural mistakes.  It has been about me throwing myself out there and seeing what sticks.

Two - I have thrown myself out there and seen what sticks.  I didn't practice my sports presentation before giving it, so I had NO idea of how it was going to go.  Some key comedic Power Point graphics were going to be mistimed.  Most of my dry sense of humor was going to be misunderstood.  Anyhow, I presented, and what I found myself saying a lot was something like this:
So I walked into the (insert place) looking to do (insert so-and-so activity) and I talked to (so-and-so person).  When I walked out, I was doing different than planned (so-and-so activity) with a new friend of (so-and-so person).
Yea.  That's basically how my Peace Corps service has gone.  Whatever I've expected to do has led me to a completely and totally unexpected place.

A totally awesome place.

Question: Have you read the book Yes Man?  If you've read the book, I hope you said, "YES!"  Although I'm no character to be played by Jim Carey, I was partially inspired by the book, and more importantly, I figured out that this whole Peace Corps thing has been a big Yes.  It's been a Yes that has opened a lot of doors through which I'll soon be walking, preferably with a beautiful asian girl waiting on the other side.  Oh dreams.... But, enough about asian girls.  The Yes to Peace Corps has then lead to a Yes to creating children's books, a Yes to learning a new language, a Yes to helping children, a Yes to some culturally scarring things, a Yes to a mind opening experience (other than LSD), and most importantly a Yes to a new me.

An intercultural bastard who's got the fever for more.

So enough with the liberal hippy conspiracy plot to make you join Peace Corps.  Let's get into what I've been doing.  If you're lucky, I might even drop you a bunch of pictures with cute foreign kids because let's be honest, that's really what you read my blog for right???  What's that Yes Man?


Zhongguo.  Chinese.  Tis' been a big topic for me in the past month.  Again, how did I get into this?

  1. I wanted to teach in Thailand.
  2. Couldn't because of timing.
  3. Went to the coconut processing plant on Pohnpei and met a Chinese woman.
  4. Started exchanging English for Chinese lessons.
  5. Her husband hooked me up with a job at a Chinese university, to which I declined, to which I found a new job.
  6. Started learning Chinese not for fun, but rather for future survival.
See the theme of throwing myself at things and getting not the expected result comes back again.  Damn.  So... Chinese has been fun.  I'm so lucky to have learned Pohnpeian before Chinese because, wow, it could not be any more different from English.  Four tones.  Very short one syllable words.  Pohnpeian has been like a middle step towards learning Chinese.  Oh, and also the intercultural exchange is great between the Chinese lady and me.  She's a university professor, and because of this we have very in depth intercultural discussion about our two countries.  She's planning to move to the U.S. with her family, so she wants to know everything about America before she goes.  Don't worry.  She now knows how to pronounce correctly

uh-MER-ih-cuh!  Or in shorthand, MER-cuh

My elementary school 6th graders just graduated.  They threw me a going away party filled with more sugar than Chris Christy's dialysis machine.  (Sorry.  It was the first celebrity fat person I thought of.  I sincerely apologize if Mr. Christy is not a type-2 dialysis patient.)  It was so sweet.  They gave me necklaces, fruits, and plenty of pictures to share.  Seeing them all speak English to me was getting me teary-eyed because at the start of the year that wouldn't have been the case.  Now, they smile when they speak English to me.  I'm going to miss my students, especially the good ones who made me things like comic books that I didn't ask for, who sang Aladdin's "A Whole New World" probably 100 times without cringing, and who smiled at my stupid English grammar jokes.

Student - "Teacher I'm finish!"     
Me - "Class, we have a brand new exchange student from Finland.  Please welcome him to the class!"
Student (smiling realizing he needs to say finished) - "I'm finishED." 

But now, whenever I ask them if they're done, they reply without me having to do the Finnish joke.  It's as if magically, through some spell, they've learned.

And seeing that on 100 little letters addressed to me on the last day of school melted my heart.

I'll post soon enough.  Until then, zai zhen, and here are some pictures

Holding my "beautiful" local basket.
Camp GLOW swimming time.
Camp GLOW girls hanging around.
But first, let me take a selfie.
8th grade graduation practice.  They literally practice for two weeks every day.
Ms. Sophia and Dina
One of these girls will rule the F.S.M. in the future.  I know it.
My students gave me three plates full of chips, donuts, and ice cream.  Diabetes anyone?
Island style.

Here's the cute kids pictures.
Told ya.  :)