Friday, September 30, 2011

A Last-minute Request.

I've decided to participate in a gaming charity event going on during October 1st. It's aimed in the USA, but I wanted to participate from abroad. Instead of going shopping in Osaka today, I will be at home gaming for 12 hours straight, seeking donations on behalf of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Please see my donation page here and donate if you can:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Hometown.

In the kitchen after lunch, the secretary asked me about where in America I'm from. I said Maryland. She asked if it was near the sea. I said it was somewhat close. She said, "Wow, it must be very nice," seeming very mesmerized. I wanted to tell her it wasn't a huge deal, but she went on to ask about my hometown, and if it was beautiful.

"Beautiful" isn't the first word that comes to mind when I think of Bowie, MD, but I said yes anyway. She said, "Wow, it must be great having lived in such a beautiful place. And I think you're very beautiful as well." I said thanks, but I was so confused. Either way, she seems to have taken a liking to me.

Everyone else was in the principal's office for a meeting, so only she and I were in the staff room. When the clock hit 4:30 I said goodbye and left, but then I had to go back a few seconds later and said "I forgot something." She laughed and said, "You're funny." I just smiled. She asked if I would make my bus, and I said I was okay. Then I left and headed home.

I thought about it some more, and I realized that Bowie really is beautiful compared to other cities, specifically those closer to and in certain parts of Baltimore and near Southeast DC. Though I don't live there anymore, I recall having days when I looked outside the window and thought about how peaceful my neighborhood is.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years ago, on September 11th, 2001.

Like for pretty much everyone else, it was just supposed to be a normal Tuesday. I was in 8th grade. Shortly after getting to my homeroom--a "temporary" classroom located apart from the main building, I remember sitting at my desk as my teacher, Ms. Crawford, told us that "a plane had struck into a building." At the time, I had the image of a small plane--about the same size as those I've seen belonging to the flying school not too far from where I live--crashing into some random building, and that it was some kind of accident.

I was thinking, "Why is she telling us this? What does this have to do with anything?"

Fast forward to second period, Band class. Instead of practicing, we all sat around the room, and I heard the same thing...planes crashing into buildings. I can't remember if there was a TV on; I don't think there was, because I still didn't quite understand what was going on. All I knew at that point was that they were calling for early dismissal, and suddenly we were moving to the cafeteria.

At that point, I can remember thinking, "My dad is at work. I have no one to pick me up from school." It was then that I saw one of my friends, sobbing. Her mom worked at the Pentagon, which was also hit. She had managed to have her dad come pick her up, and when he arrived, he asked if I needed a ride, and I said yes. I found out a few days later that my friend's mom was safe, thank God.

I was in so much of a daze after getting home that I don't remember who was home first, whether it was me or my mom. I don't remember if my brother had gotten home before or after I did. I think I was the first one home...but all I remember is going downstairs to turn on the TV and finally see what my teachers were talking about.

This wasn't just a small plane, but a passenger aircraft. and it wasn't just a random building, but two very tall buildings in New York. Before that day, I had no idea what the "World Trade Center" was. And it was on September 11th that I finally saw it for the first time on TV, and both towers were smoking and in flames. I think by that time the towers had already collapsed, but all I remember is seeing replays of the towers over and over again.

It was by this time that I had wondered what happened to my dad. He works in DC, and I had no idea if anything else could have possibly happened. I found out later after my dad got home that he had gotten into an unrelated traffic accident; someone stopped to ask him for directions, and shortly after they both got back on the road, that same person accidentally rear-ended the mail truck my dad was in, causing my dad to suffer a back injury from whiplash.

The rest of the day was blurry. I remember not going to school the next day, and possibly the day after that, and maybe even for the rest of that week. I just don't remember.

I tend to not remember many things very well. You would think that my memory of 9/11 would be as clear as a bell, but it isn't. I can only recall that life forever changed after that day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Playing mind tricks on my students, otherwise known as the A/B game.

I love tricking my students. So this week was my first batch of classes with the students at one of my schools. The first lesson is always the easiest; it's a self-introduction lesson and I pretty much can do whatever I want. So I told them a little about myself, and then we played a game. This game doesn't really have a name--I just call it the "A/B game." I made a PowerPoint with a series of questions about myself and my family, and gave two answers on each side of the slide, one designated by 'A' and the other by 'B'. After asking the question (and making sure the students understand it), I give them a few seconds to decide which side they think is the correct answer, and then they get up and move to that side. If they're correct, they're safe. If they're wrong, then they do a simple self-introduction. They only have to do the intro once though; if they get the next question wrong they don't have to do it again. So the first few questions were pretty simple, and everyone got those right. But today I decided to play a trick on my students. I came to school wearing a bright pink shirt and black pants, and one of the questions that came up was "My favorite color is..." Answer A was black, and Answer B was pink. The kids were so thrown off by my pink shirt that nearly all but two or three of them rushed to the "pink" side. Then when I told them the answer was black, they ALL had to do their self-introductions!!! It was absolutely great. Eventually I was able to fool the remaining few students with the other questions, such as whether I had a PSP or a DS. Most kids tend to think I have a PSP for some reason, most likely because they think it's more aimed towards adults. But a few kids recalled me saying earlier that I used to play Pokemon, so they went to the DS side. The best thing about this game is that it helps the kids' listening skills, and it also lets them run around a bit. It's always good to get the kids active during your first class, to encourage them to have a positive first impression of you as their new teacher. It also gives them a chance to speak English, as they have to use it to introduce themselves if they get a question wrong. Of course, if there's that one kid that's REALLY good and gets all of them right, you can just make them do their introduction at the end of the game. If you manage to get all of the kids to do it before you use up your questions, then you can just enjoy the rest of the game and let them continue their listening to you recite the questions and answers.