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Monday, November 7, 2011

English & Drama

Sunday afternoon. It’s hot… I’m not going to start complaining. This is just an ‘FYI’ and something to share… I was looking for a place to sit outside so I could do some updating, but I wasn’t able… cause it’s 2pm and the heat is at its peak. And the fact that I can’t walk around with sleeveless tops or shorts EVER - as it’s inappropriate and makes others as well as myself feel uncomfortable - doesn’t help cool me down much… But anyhooosss… not to worry.

All is well here in this little spot. I’ve got 4 full free days this week due to a vehicle strike and a Muslim festival – yet again. It’s crazy the amount of days off people get here! I’ve only been working for 2 full weeks at the school and already there have been 3 free days for a festival, 1 for a strike and 1 because an important politician passed away. 5 days in total!!!! It’s any wonder they get things done here in this country… Last year when I was here it was the same thing; there was always a reason for the schools to close their doors for the day. All apart of the good life I guess… and the kids love it of course. So I won’t complain. It actually gives me some space and time to catch up on lesson plans and other bits and bobs. Because getting a grip on things here in the ‘teaching game’ has been pretty full-on… even with the days-off in between. For some reason I’ve been wrecked and everyday has brought something big along with it.

In one of my last updates I mentioned that I’m teaching ‘Spoken English’. This means I’ve to give English classes that are only focused on talking, communicating, accent reduction and pronunciation. All well and good and I’m pretty happy with it. In this school, just like the others where I was teaching (apart from China) I’ve no guidelines. Management has left it up to me, to approach the lessons in whatever way I feel best. It’s giving me ‘total freedom’. Good most times, and other times there’s a sense of being lost, overwhelmed and confused. But I get over it pretty quickly… and I just get the job done.

Now though, alongside these Spoken English classes, I’ve been assigned to do something extra. When I first arrived at the school I was told I had to write a play or a drama. Actually I was told to write 2; 1 for the small kids and one for the bigger. This assignment/drama was to be for the kids to perform on the annual day of the school (this is for their anniversary). On that day, there’ll be a festival with songs, dances and drama performances. The school puts so much effort into this day, months of preparation (at the moment – from what I can understand of the language around me - it seems to be the only thing everyone is talking about…) There are around 500 people (including the kids) expected to attend as well as some very ‘important’ people who are linked to the school and linked to the Art of Living Association. So there’s quite some pressure for every performance to be ‘top notch’. And the singing and dancing, will no doubt be next to perfect. The drama’s? Hummm…. If the only 2 dramas that will be performed are the ones that are written by the foreign teacher named Neev - who will have worked for 2 whole months teaching the 277 kids of the school proper Spoken English - then time will only tell! Yes, the only 2 dramas that will be performed are the ones I was assigned to write and teach. And the work I’m putting in right now, and will continue to put in over the following 6 weeks, will be shown on that day – the 19th of December.

Needless to say, the past week and a half the position of ‘Spoken English’ teacher has slightly turned: half of my time I’m ‘chatting’ with the children, in my normal classes and the other half I’m working on teaching the kids I selected (after very informal auditions) the dramas/plays that I’ve since written. Both dramas took quite some time to create and write – it was something I’d never done before, but I’m so excited by what it’s become. And I’m actually delighted that I’m now giving more importance to the 10 classes of drama that I’m teaching each week – when there aren’t any strikes, deaths or festivals – instead of the other 15 classes of English…

I’ve never been giving drama classes before… Well, in China I tried, I succeeded and I absolutely LOVED IT! I remember how much I wanted to be teaching kids to act, instead of speaking English… oops!!! A little confession slipped in there! How cool it is though, that I wanted to do it then, and now, in this school, it’s happening! Yay!

Also, judging by how the teachers and management are more concerned about the drama classes instead of the spoken English classes, it’s like I came here MAINLY to give the drama classes. And the fact that, after Annual day, I’ll be placed in a different school for another 6 or 8 weeks, only confirms that they wanted me here, in this particular place, to do these drama classes, at this particular time.

So on the 19th of December - after the little actors I’ve selected have performed the magic I’m trying to teach them (ahum) - I’m due to leave and will be placed in a different school of the same association (Art of Living). This gives me another 6 weeks to work with the ‘stars’ I’ve selected. I’m so eager to find out how they’ll do… and how I’ll do!

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