Day 8

The Amazing Teachers

Each of the teaching teams (elementary and secondary) has been working with the elementary and secondary teachers from Dese and doing an amazing job.  Each afternoon, they work to demonstrate another ESL technique and then, through volunteers among the Dese teachers, they work with the teachers to prepare a lesson plan utilizing the technique in a lesson for the next morning with the students.  Sometimes, this has been difficult with the elementary teachers, some of whom do not have great English skills themselves.  One exercise today really caught their attention, however.  It required sound effects, which Todd provided very effectively. He brayed, he neighed, he crowed, he cackled, and he meowed. The Dessie elementary teachers were rolling in the aisles.  Clearly, Todd is a man of many talents.

The rest of the non-teachers were called over to the high school building to help participate in Kurt and Kristi’s activity for the day with the teachers.  Upon arrival at the high school teacher training room, everyone was asked to squat on the ground and hold onto our ankles.  From the start, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy this game/simulation, but Kurt started to explain how we were to play.  The rules (or guidelines) seemed simple enough: if you are tapped once, you must stay squatting and repeat the rules; if you are tapped twice, you may stand up; and if you are tapped thrice, you may do whatever you want to do. 

At first, it all seemed a little bit confusing.  If you’ve never squatted holding onto your ankles for any significant period of time, I wouldn’t recommend trying it.  It is pretty painful after five minutes, much less 15.  So we all remained squatting, complaining about our knees and Achilles tendons, and repeating the rules as Kurt walked around, smiling nicely and joking pleasantly, but tapping each of us once on the head.  It was a symphony of the list of rules, each person reciting them starting at different times.
Finally, I was tapped on the head twice.  Woohoo!!  With a sigh of physical relief, I stood up.  He continued allowing people to stand up, but probably no more than six.  After another five minutes, Kurt tapped three or four people, including some of the teachers, three times on the head.  Everyone either sat cross-legged on the floor, or made themselves comfortable in a chair on the outskirts of the room.  I was the fourth or fifth person to be allowed to “do whatever I wanted to do”, so I went outside.  People laughed at the fact that I would take it to such an extreme, but after a minute or two, my mom realized, that since I was able to do whatever I wanted, I could “free” everyone else still squatting.  I did so, and everyone returned to his or her own seat to figure out the objective of the activity.  (I just wish I had thought to tap Kurt on the head once!)

After a lesson on core values yesterday, it started to make sense.  Kurt and Kristi were teaching that we, as normal human beings, often voice strong values that we genuinely believe in, but that doesn’t mean that we are able to live them out.  The list of core values on the board from the day before consisted of things like “compassion”, “helping others”, and “having sensitivity towards other people”.  It takes an activity like that to make a person realize how easy it is to get caught up in your own personal comfort instead of living out your beliefs and values.  It brought out a powerful message to everyone.