I will be teaching at Mercury Bay Area School for the 2015 school year. I can't wait to meet my new students and colleagues.
All of you know how much I love Shayne Koycsan.
He has recently released a new piece of art titled "Troll" that looks at those who lurch in the darkest corners while spreading their darkness to all of us with "freedom of cruelty."
This is a powerful piece of the importance of kindness, but as well the power of the Internet.
Enjoy the beautiful words and visuals below.
This is a powerful address from Leonardo Dicaprio, the UN Messenger of Peace, on the importance of immediate change in regards to attitudes towards accelerating climate change. Check it out!
Looking through my phone, I wish I had taken more photos through the year. Here are some of the photos I took of you lovely Grade 8's, inside and outside the classroom. Plus a few awkward selfies for good measure!
This is a piece I wrote during my studies at Simon Fraser not long after returning from my teaching experience in India at the end of 2011. I have left it in the original, unedited form. I wanted to reflect on not only my privilege but my personal discomfort when faced with the challenges of people of different cultures.
The Distance Between This and That
My olive green chupa swishes against my legs as I awkwardly descend the uneven cement stairs from Class 7 to the Teacher's Lounge. I am greeted by the new yet familiar smell of sweet tea and a big smile from Kalsang-la, my host teacher.
It was my second week at Sogar School. I had heard the stories of many of my students, most having crossed the Everest Range in the dark of the night to avoid soldiers, prison and escape from their homeland, Tibet. Living in exile brought them closer to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and in Dharmsala there were schools where they could learn how to speak, read and write Tibetan and English. Sogar was one of these schools - hosting adult Tibetan refugees in "transition," the meaning of the Tibetan word 'sogar.' A majority of my students truly were in transition and had never attended school before Sogar, robbed of their culture by the Chinese government, unable to sometimes speak, read or write their language of birthright when they arrived.
I turned and saw the class president of Class 7, Kunga, waiting patiently by the doorway. The class moved from Class 1 to 8 together, and my students had a strong respect and bond with their chosen delegate. Kunga was the type of student that hungered for knowledge with a solid confidence - he was never afraid to make mistakes and this allowed him to go places others may never glimpse.
"Will you help me with my book? We are at the canteen."
I asked for a few minutes and he left me, only after offering to carry my bag. This moment of discomfort was a daily experience at Sogar, as most of my students were the same age or older than myself. Why was I considered more valuable? Because I was Teacher.
As I crossed the schoolyard, the respect was overwhelming. "Hello Teacher!" "How are you, Teacher?" Madam, let me carry." My novelty was apparent - in a sea of black hair and sun weathered faces, my pale skin, blue eyes and blond hair were only the tip of my foreignness.
I approached Kunga at the canteen, a greasy spoon run by the students serving rice and fried potatoes for 10 cents. He stood up as I walked forward, sitting down only once I was comfortable.
"What do you need help with?"
He lifted his book into my line of vision - Great Speeches by the Greatest Leaders of the 20th Century. Opening the pages, he pushed the selection towards me and my eyebrows instinctively raised as I read his choice: Adolf Hitler.
"Why do you want to understand this? What do you know about Hitler?"
He seemed annoyed that I was delaying the learning. Why couldn't I just start explaining the underlined words with my poorly drawn pictures and exaggerated movements, just like in class?
"Teacher. I ask for help. I went to Chinese school in Lhasa - my brother is policeman. My Chinese is very good. But I cannot find books in India. Impossible."
I was confused. "Why can't you just read about history in Tibetan?"
He shook his head and continued. "Tibet does not write about history. Tibet only write about history with China. The library has no books. I want to know and so I have to read in my third language."
I nodded as though I understood. How could I? My whole life I had access to more information than I ever could consume and yet had rarely considered what trials a person would face to educate themselves about the world around them.
I opened my notebook and started to scrawl the meaning of the unknowns, hoping I could share a sliver of my understanding. Just like he wanted.