Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bilingual education

“Our languages may be different, but our hearts are the same…they beat.”
Sharon Geinett

Yearning to Learn 

(courtesy of Gov. Hill) 

What's a girl to do on her day off in the frigid North? Of course, go spend time with a bunch of 4-8 year olds at one of the local primary schools. Just the other day I was hoping that I would be able to connect with a friend's mom who teaches at Government Hill, which is an Spanish-English Immersion primary school in Anchorage. Unsure of this happening, I was pleasantly surprised to run into Star at the grocery store the other day. We talked and she said that it would be great if I wanted to stop by and check out the program and the classrooms...but that they would put me to work. What an amazing program they have going on. It seems to be the best kept secret, that shouldn't be a secret. I am not sure why the school districts and others don't model education off of the program that is in place at Government Hill. Recalling my elementary school days, well I don't want to think about them and I don't remember much in the way of meaningful education. Walking into through the doors it was refreshing to see the walls of the halls covered with art and writing projects featuring both the Spanish and English language. Not only are native English speakers learning Spanish, but native Spanish speakers are learning English and there is also the neighborhood program for students who are from the area, but who are not involved with the immersion program. The kids are so eager to learn and the classrooms are filled with beaming pupils representing so many ethnic backgrounds...and all of them are shown respect, attention, and given a great opportunity to learn at his and her own pace. The teachers seem to have developed a real community and it is evident in their teaching and helping one another out in the classroom. I was greatly privileged with the opportunity to help out with various activities. My favorite being working with 2nd graders in their Spanish classroom, playing La LoterĂ­a (bingo) Navidad style (Christmas). I was surprised how much Spanish I have retained and I seemed to forget my rustiness while enjoying "teaching" these girls and boys some Christmas vocabulary.
I am so excited to see these kids exposed to a new language at such an early age. Whether they go on to use their second language, they have been exposed to a different way in which to view the world. The have additional lenses that they can wear to see and think about the world in a bigger sense, yet at the same time narrowing the world down to the fact that we are more similar than we are different.

Read more about the ongoing programs at:

I find myself being more drawn to wanting to teach literacy, both to those in some far away land I have yet to venture to, and to those right here. I want to learn more languages, and serve in anyway I can. The grand gift of education in my life is precious and I want to pass that on to the next generation and to those who give up the hope of having an education or learning how to read.

I find this quote inspiring and yet thought provoking. Something that seems so natural to me, to those I grew up with in is sometimes hard to imagine children around the world not sitting in a classroom for a good portion of childhood. I hope to reach out and extend the gift that has been given me to many around the globe. 

"Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope...It is a bulwark against poverty...a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right..."
~ Kofi Annan

With teaching as a developing passion, I am stoked to see the HS mightily work in the lives of those I can reach in and out of the classroom. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Moonlight Shadows

A morning view from my back porch.

"Please return to your seats and prepare for landing," sounding from one of the stewardesses jarred me from my peaceful rest on flight#31 from Portland to Anchorage. As I peered out the little window, the moon illuminated the dark night and reflected off the silky ocean below. A long island below looked familiar..."Could it be, weare flying over Prince William Sound," I thought to myself. I tapped into my mental chart of the Sound, "this island must be Montague..." Soon I recognized the snow capped mountains of Knight Island, Culross, Blackstone Bay, and finally the lights leading to and from Whittier tunnel. As our plane sliced through the cold black night, a shadow below traveled by moonlight with us. Much closer to the ground a small shadow plane joined us through the sound, over the mountains and over icy Turnagin Arm, until finally landing on the airway in Anchorage. 

What a gift to travel through the night over a beautiful land revealed below.

I am home in the snowy land of the north, where ice covered mountains and a sea of burgs meet, showing off in a fine arts show. 

I am home for a month...

I am home to explore;

I am home, living in another world;

I am home to breathe fresh air;

I am home to love those so dear to me, my family and my friends.

Giving thanks in Wilbur

I love living in the states because road trips actually lead to interesting towns, and it doesn't take long before adventuring into a new and unfamiliar place. Don't get me wrong, I love Alaskan road-trips and camping in the middle of nowhere, but seriously one could drive hours and be no-where, but somewhere still in Alaska. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, my roommate, Kate, and I packed up and hopped in a car with a few others to head up north to Wilbur, Washington, her hometown of 800 or so.

If you are like me, you are probably imagining a scene from the children's story Charlotte's Web, but for a girl who didn't grow up in a rural farming community, it was better than just a children's story. I tend to find new things fascinating, like a little girl who sees a butterfly for the first time. Luckily for me, I haven't been able to kick the awe-like fascination and the journey of traveling, and exploring nature, cultures, and art is more of a breath-taking view from each summit I encounter as I hike the trails of life.

Back to Wilbur...

Only 6 hours later we were in farm land and then the real experience started. It was a nice switch up from Portland city life...neighbors actually care about one another and rarely do they notify the other before walking through the front door of one of the neighborhood friends. I can't imagine anything like this happening in Portland, especially in NE or SE, or along the notorious 82nd stretch.

Our time away was refreshing, insightful, and just fun. We enjoyed park lights, a hayride, Mantiques, a craft bizarre, and a trip to Spokane.

These are some photos from my Thanksgiving experience!

Our hayride with the lil' munchkins 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What laughing does for your soul...

This morning a woke up in a daze, a funk, overwhelmed....with about 8 hours of sleep over the last few days total...I was not overjoyed to roll out of bed at 5:40 this morning to get prepared for my Thursday morning girls group at 6:15, but I went through the motions of getting ready...getting there...yadadiyadadi....I'm not sure why I get surprised to find that in community I find refreshment, a doesn't mean that everything else that is crazy in the world isn't occurring in my life and all around me, but it does give me a way to embrace the mixture of things in life that come my way. In community, unity is beautiful even in the pain of whoever is suffering at the moment. I love to watch the building of the body.

So on my way back to campus this morning...I was having a great conversation with my she's driving we make a turn....and a pan goes clunkittyclunk and she makes some funny remark about it....but in the meantime I look over at her and say, "You totally just ran a red light..." In shock, that she was totally oblivious to the red arrow she drove the midst of the interesting series of events...we laughed for a good while that my friend had payed more attention to the pan laughing at its clanking sounds than the street light....anyways it was the best dose of medicine a girl can get...well at least for this rainy autumn day. :)

I'm going to have a day and be at peace...Relief in the storm

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Summer Lovin'

I am excited to think about teaching in the future. What a wonderful new dream that has been placed on my heart. I can't think of anything more enjoyable than working with Indonesian students for my TESOL practicum. There is such a joy and life among these students. I miss the bursts of laughter from these little ones. 

They are such a wonderful group of laughing and smiling kids...

and I see so much potential and life with each one of these kids. 

Above: I got to take photos with each class at this primary school I visited a few times while living with a family in Madiun in East Java. The girl in the red outfit, is Titis and I had the privilege of tutoring her a bit, she is bright and I know could change this world! 

Bottom photo: I remember meeting with a group of teachers in Madiun and these students were bursting at the door seams. I couldn't resist and I left the teachers to Mike and joined the first they appeared malu (shy) but they warmed up to this silly bule (white person) and enjoyed running in and out of my photos! 

What a peaceful though to think that I get to go back to this land of familiar laughter...though I was there such a short time, I feel such a connection with the people and Indonesian way of life. I'm ready to continue exploring the many islands, faces, and cultures of Indonesia. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

New Wine Fall Retreat

A couple of weeks ago, I and my fellow interns joined Dr. Metzger and his family as well as "uncle" Ron and his wife Linda for a much needed escape from the city to a quaint little cabin up at Mt. Hood. I forgot how much growing up in Alaska near trees impacted say the least being surrounded by green trees and the sound of a rushing river stimulated my senses and gave me some much needed refreshment. I really love the concrete grey hues, steel bridges, and industrial areas of Portland...but sometimes I long to get back to my senses in the midst of pristine beauty...aka the forest. Anyways it was a great weekend of bonding, intense learning, and started the ball rolling on several of our projects for the year! Yippy! 

Check out New Wine, New Wine Skins to hear what we are all about!    

Us lovely ladies in the kitchen. We cooked some mighty good food, can you say, "French toast bake and  spiced up nutmeg burgers?!"

Oh yes, I forgot to mention ... there was no fun involved. We were complete slaves in the kitchen... (minus the laughing historically part) 

We learned to share the kitchen space and let BD get in on some sweet cooking action. 

They waited ever so eloquently while the smell of nutmeg wafted from the grill...

Life can't get much better than gathering around a campfire with friends... 
capping the evening off with s'mores and a round of truth or dare 

Ready, steady, go....

Hiking time! Mt. Hood is beautiful and I will get to the top one day but for now...

Ramona Falls will have to suffice.  

Because I am pretty sure this is one of the most breath-taking falls I have hiked to, at least in Oregon. The way the sun beamed off the falling water and danced its heart out until rainbows dazzled us in the cooling mist...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How I really feel today...

It only takes one rain for the blooms to open up for the leaves to unfold. The land that was of barren grey is evolving. It is the pretty green, the color that is stained on your shoes after you have mowed the lawn. It’s a new season. A new spirit of life has awaken and is alive. I feel it in the cool breeze of the night as it brushed my skin …
I want nothing more but to burst out and yell. To yell with the intense joy that encompasses new life, new breath, and new adventure. It’s a new day on this dancing journey.

Hide in the Light

I found this in my old folder of writing...I think it is a few years old.
I'm not sure what exactly I was writing about, but I reread this and
was encouraged to remain in the Light, to hide in the Light.

What makes the light so beautiful,
the shade so nice, and the reflections so real that they are too close to touch?
The photograph ripped in shreds…
the pieces left on the dusty floor
yet still whole in spirit.
Confusion and strife attack the being,
insecurities wavier a high price.
They take your grounds, your confidence, your trust
The way you feel the next day,
the way you stare…
It’s all the same when locked away.
That attic looks mighty fine
And the dusty chest looks like a good place to hide
Emotions are too great.
Cut them out and lock them away,
Get them out of mind ...
They only cloud the air
Causing dust to rise
But what if it wasn’t the emotion,
tt was the serpent sneaking through the mind
Not able to run fast enough
It went in for the kill
It stole the being making himself whole.
Parched of love and full of blood
All was right and he went to bed
Back at home laid a girl on the floor
The door was locked from the outside in.
She cried and cried and gave up the fight
Sat there shaking with fright

“Don’t cry, don’t cry,”
said a voice.
“Not all is lost
I hope you know that.”

“What?” the little one asked.

“Dry your tears, dry your tears," again she heard this voice.

“I don’t understand, who are you, why do you bother with me,
I’m not who you think I am, my soul is gone and im too close to failure.
The boy ripped out my heart and stomped on it.
The woman screamed her head off at me when I looked her way
The money was just on the street, I swear I needed it…I was hungry
I slept in the snow and then I found this house….empty and cold but better than out
I crawled up here, where the heat rises hoping to find somewhere to rest my eyes
Someone played a joke on me, locked me in
I was left alone once again.
Must I go on? I am not worth your wait.
Can’t you see, leave me be,
leave me be so I can cry.”

“I know you, I have been watching you for a long while.
I have been waiting and I will wait.”

“Are you stocking me too? “

“No, just waiting for you to be ready. Waiting for this day when you would lay broken on the floor.”

“Who are you?” the little girl asked.

“The light you hide from, the person who smiles at you on the streets at night.
I am in the leaves of the forest and the waves of sea, your Father, that you have not looked to see. Here I am in front of you, calling you from the shadows.
Be in my picture that captures eternity All I ask is for you to be free.
Give me your burdens. Cast off the chains.
Be free to let me take care of you,
To keep watching over thee.”

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Simple, but such a good reminder....

You Are Wonderful

by Sara Groves and Gordon Kennedy

i have been talking to you since i was a little girl
so many sweet memories of giving you my world

you are wonderful
a friend to the weary
you have been so faithful
your goodness it follows me
you are beautiful
your love is never ending

i was just wondering today how over all these years
you've carried so many cares
calmed so many fears

chorus 2x

my savior my friend
all these years we’ve been walking
you are wonderful

Monday, September 22, 2008



The night breeze brushed through my hair tonight...
flowing through my mind endlessly,
impressed on my heart
the clearness of the night sky
clouds above,
water below
wherever I stride the wind follows me
calming my senses, 
leaving its marks on my heart...
dawn comes to bring in a warm spring
and the breeze still calls me,
as it hugs the air, I breathe.

Nights like these

Is it weird to say that I miss nights of exploring the lives of many and loving on them?

Thoughts from a cold night under the Steel Bridge:

Traveling the streets, through cold nights
how many choose to stay.
For some this is the best they got,
for others it’s the hell that has bound them to the streets.
For him it was all he has ever known.
Life under the overpass,
Where’s the hope? Where’s the love?

I find familiar faces in these dark places...

Heart of Stone melts away to anxiety attacks;
the need for a friend burst aloud.
Hands are stretched out to grab onto a Spirit of life.
The warm hands are what will help him get through tonight’s angel dust high.
The cravings for a cigarette are intensified
As this Frank heart comes down from the sky
He is honest and so vulnerable,

I find a friend in the midst of the dark lonely night.
For thirty minutes his shaky hands found a conduit of hope.

To be Human is to be like a Tree

To be human is to be like a tree
Where the sky is the limit
and roots can go deep.

For a tree does not
merely grow into its full potential
with out water or nutrients.

So is the same with the human race.

Flesh and bones are great
but without essential elements of another world
how can a soul be cultivated?

Inside trees are layers of rings
They tell an ancient story.
Outlasting forest fires, windstorms, and the bark beetles
The old tree is revered for its great strength.

Like a tree is created with such intricacy so is the human species.
Though this complex being reaches into a world not accessible to the trees.

There are layers under the soft and tough skins of earthlings also known as people.
Underneath the blanket of physical coverings are stories of an ancient promise.
There is a spiritual element that begs to be considered with the mental and physical whole
It longs to be known for more than just flesh and bone.

To be human is to feel, touch, and experience life.
To taste of the sweet and salty mist of the sea
To be human is to be of a communal forest,
Where our roots cross paths and twist together in proliferation

To be human is to be created in the image of the Greatest Love Story.