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