Posts Tagged ‘students’

On Friday, I went out to dinner with some Asian friends of mine.  We went to a really high end authentic Chinese restaurant, the Sichuan Garden Restaurant.  As an aside, great food, you should try it!  Anyways, I got there a few minutes late and when the waiter asked if he could help me, I said I was meeting some friends and was running late.  He said,  “Ahhh, follow me!”  He then proceeded to take me up three flights of stairs into a room in the far corner that had a table of seven Caucasians sitting at it.  He was quite embarrassed when I informed him that my friends were Chinese and then took me back down the three flights, to the front room where my friends were seated.  There are two menus at this restaurant – the one in English and the one in Chinese.  They are not the same.  We ordered from the Chinese and my friends were quite surprized I like spicey!  Their other American friends apparently did not.  But wait, there’s more!

My friends and I were served our food and without asking me, M ordered me a fork!  What she didn’t realize is that even at home, chopsticks are my go-to utensil.  Bless her, she was only trying to make sure I was comfortable.  So, I had authentic Chinese and used the correct utensils.  I made sure to have my friends point out what we had ordered so that I could order it again if I came without them!  But wait, there’s more!

After dinner, we were talking about food and what we like and their daughter, who had been a student of mine, said that she knew I liked to eat ‘cultural’ foods but that I didn’t like to cook them.  And I replied, “Oh, Little M, that’s not true!  Just yesterday I made PadThai!”  She got a puzzled look on her face and said,  “What’s that?”  Here in my head I’m thinking, “She’s Asian, she’ll know all Asian foods.”  Whoops!

Being a teacher has given me the opportunity to really examine my cultural biases and to try to pay attention to my thinking patterns.  I can’t tell you what a delightful surprise it was to see that others have places they need to examine, too.  It’s okay that I’m not perfect and it’s okay that my friends aren’t either.  We laugh and we learn.

And now for something totally unrelated:

Yesterday I cooked.  All day I cooked.  I made homemade veggie stock and filled my freezer with it.  I made some of that stock into homemade minestrone soup.  mmmmmm.  I love using fresh ingredients and try to buy locally grown at that.  I prefer organic, but will choose local over organic in many cases.  Here in New England, hothouse farming for herbs and some summer veggies has really taken off, but yeah – the tomatoes never really cut it unless it’s summer time.  Sometimes canned is better.  I chopped veggies for a good part of my day yesterday, making salad for the next three days, prepping for the stir fries and salsas I plan to make this week.  I hate coming home tired and knowing I have food prep to do, and for some reason the fifteen minutes of chopping turns into a major production in my head, so I prep ahead of time.  Because I do love home cooked food.  It makes me feel loved.  And lately, I’ve been ‘loving’ myself in a fast food kind of way.  Which isn’t really love at all.  So, nesting with leeks and carrots and mushrooms and tomatoes and all the fresh herbs was nice.  The house smelled great!


Read Full Post »

I remember the very first time I ever had an awareness of politics and any feeling about a political candidate.  I was in probably fifth grade and I was riding the bus home from school.  I grew up on the edge of Appalachia, and the bus ride was a long one.  After all, school was in town and we weren’t.  Anyway, someone on the bus started talking about the upcoming election.  Everyone on the bus seemed to be aware of it but me.  Suddenly, from the back  – low but rhythmic, came the chant, “Nix-on, Nix-on, Nix-on!”  It built up speed and volume as the bus sped down the highway.  Students were screaming, kids were ripping paper out of their notebooks and making impromptu signs that they held up to the windows.  It was cacophonous and exhilarating and it. just. seemed. so. important.  We were chanting as if the very fate of the election rested on our backs and we were not about to let Nixon down!  In hindsight, perhaps we should have.

What strikes me about this whole episode is that I got off the bus that day just as ignorant as I had gotten on.  I felt like I was a part of a real community, but I had no idea what that community wanted or stood for.

Now I teach fifth graders.  Today we sat and watched Barack Obama being sworn in as our President.  I have made real effort this year to present both McCain and Obama to my students.   I watched them talk semi-intelligently about the candidates and I secretly thrilled when Obama won our mock election 56 to 6.  When I had to console my McCain supporting students after the real election, I knew they were paying attention.  We’ve spent the past month talking a little every day about the history that was made today.  It’s not my curriculum – I’m supposed to be teaching about the first thirteen colonies right now if I’m going to get to Westward expansion by May.  But this year, I let that go.  The here and now are much too important.  So we may not get those top scores on the Social Studies portion of the State Standardized test, but we’ll know why we watched this inauguration.  We’ll understand the atmosphere of rejoicing and hope that have surrounded us, and we will know what our community wants and what it stands for, and we will know what  it means to say, “Yes we can!”

Read Full Post »