Friday, 8 November 2013

November Thus Far

November has arrived and is now quickly disappearing from under me.  With all the events that are happening and have happened so far, I'm going to have to make this a "double post month".

Where do I start? Last week I had the privilege of being invited, along with the fellow teachers, to a Bangladeshi Muslim wedding.  On the morning of the event my flat-mate and friend packed our saris, that we borrowed the night before, and caught a rickshaw to one of my favourite places ... La Femme, a beauty palour.  When we arrived, we asked to be dressed, as we have no idea how to put on our own saris, and requested for our hair and make up to be done too. The La Femme ladies took us to a private room and immediately took care of us.  Before long we had an audience, other La Femme ladies curious at what these white foreigners were doing wearing saris.   60  minutes later our detailed and intricate hairstyles were finished, our makeup completed, which looked like something out of  an "America's Next Top Model" photo shoot, bold and colourful,  and we were wrapped, pinned and wearing glitzy saris.  Well done La Femme ladies.

The wedding itself was completely different to what I'm used to. Upon arrival we were greeted by a row of young girls with flowers who handed them to us, whilst all the guests had their mobile phones out and took photos of us, as we entered the celebration tent. It was like going to a Bollywood, e-grade movie, gone bad premier ... I loved it.   We were then lead to a table right up, clos and personal, next to the wedding seat/tent/bed thing (I obviously don't know the name of it yet but, it looks like a four poster bed, so we'll call it that). We were served three different savoury dishes;  a beef dish, a spicy chicken dish and a large dish of rice. Our meal was topped off with the sweetest and most delicious sweet rice dish I have ever tasted, very yummy!

The groom then arrived, most probably an hour after we had and was lead by his entire family to the four poster bed thing.  He is then asked to take off his shoes and sat at the far, back end of the bed, while the guests crowed around the posts and take as many photos as possible and throw flower petals at him.  An hour or two later his bride, dressed in red and in array of jewels, is led by her family to the four poster bed thing and the same thing happens again, all guests come around and take photos of the couple who sit cross legged at the one end of the bed.  Meanwhile, the bride's cousins steal the groom's shoes and hide them somewhere around the bride's house, when they are hidden, the groom's cousins have to find them.  Tradition says that the groom is not allowed to leave the four poster bed thing until his cousins find both pairs of shoes, this is to guarantee that he will stay and fulfill the marriage vows and not run away, fair enough.  There are no other traditions that we stayed long enough to see. I'm sure more traditional customs and easting went on throughout the night, while each wave of guest came through to take photos of the married or soon-to-be married couple.

The principal in the centre with his wife surrounded by me and fellow
teachers, who are now dear friends posing for a photo after the wedding.
Apart from the social event of the month, we have started preparation for our school Christmas production, named, 'Finding Grace'.  It's a sound scape, outdoor theatre, moving play. The audience will walk through the play, following the young Yr 7s and essentially be apart of the journey of "Finding Grace" with them. It's going to be amazing, I'm sure. The whole secondary student body are involved and each class has a part to play and their own scene.  I have been given the role to teach our Year 10 boys the Haka - The boys are amazing and have managed to get their tongues around the long words and the different sounds of the vowels. After our half an hour practice the boys and I are so pumped that it takes about 20 mins to calm ourselves down again  I've resorted to having a one minute silence with eyes closed just to continue with the seemingly more mundane class of ICT afterwards - I can't wait to see them in the final production, I'm becoming so proud of them. 

The reason why we have the Haka is that there is a scene called the tunnel of despair. My boys are suppose to scare the Yr 7s but, then allow the Yr 7s to continue their journey and peacefully find grace, with the audience following behind. 

While the hype of Christmas production has been happening, the government has been delaying setting an election date, as neither party (the only two parties that seem to have any power) have been changing their minds about when it should be.  This has been effecting and will effect our play and the education of  our students, as decisions made in politics effect the country almost immediately. It's completely different to what I expect from my own country. 

Because both parties keep changing their mind one party will become fed up with the other and will call, what I've come to understand are legal protests, hartels against the other party.  These hartels can be, and most of the time are very violent.  This effects everyone from the least of the people of Bangladesh to nationwide. The average Joe Blog may not even directly be effected by the violence, but the average Joe can't make money nor buy, because for safety reasons the stores must be closed; students can't go to school, because it's too dangerous to travel from certain areas in the city, and we, the teachers have to change and adapt our school programs in an instant, so each child can still cover the curriculum content.  For example, we can't have after school rehearsals if a hartel is called, as we don't send students home any later than 3pm on those days, which ripple effects onto other teachers having to juggle their subjects around or, students having to use up their lunch time to catch up with work.  When you teach in a place as unpredictable as Bangladesh you have to be ADAPTABLE, GRACIOUS and PLANNED. This should be the same for any teacher anywhere, but it seems to be more apparent in your minds-eye to be so here. 

Prayers:
  • Government resolve their petty issues so they can get on with elections and in turn country can get on with the rest of their lives
  • Our Christmas production goes well
  • And to throw something in that I haven't talked about yet, for the strength and energy of my fellow teachers.  It's report writing time, Christmas Production time, and hartels.
  • The preparation of Christmas holidays, is also another thing on people's lists, it really shouldn't be making them more stressed.

The Christmas holidays seem to be a bigger deal than I anticipated.  We only have three weeks,  during Christmas as appose to six that we get in the southern hemisphere, and most people haven't been home in a couple years.  So pray everyone has a refreshing holiday, whether it is here in Dhaka or back home with family.  As for me I won't be going home, but will explore a bit around Asia. I'm looking forward to experiencing a winter Christmas. Where that will be? I don't really know for sure.

I hope you enjoyed a little piece of the pie this time, I'll serve you up some more in the coming weeks.

Ciao for now!

 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Delightful

Wow, It seems like a long little while since I last wrote a post. I guess the saying is true though, no news is good news and this last month has been ... well, delightful.

I have felt a lot more comfortable here than I thought I would at this time.  I just wondered at what could have contributed to me feeling so "at home" and  I looked down at the little notes that I had written throughout the month, so I didn't forget what to write about when it came to this blog,  and I see the first point, and probably the most important, and that is, 'I baked a banana cake'. Yip, that'll do it.  The smell of a fresh baked cake will make anyone feel at home, I'm sure.

Cooking and baking has almost become a weekly event in this house.  Our Aya (maid) laughed, slightly giggled once when I told her that I will cook something myself one night.  I'm so curious to know what view she has of us bideshis (foreigners). 

Since my first venture into my "Bangladeshi kitchen" I have also made my first banoffee pie - I think it's safe to say that  it - was - amazing! I was even surprised at how yummy it was.  Sorry, I don't have photographic evidence of the creation, but it was, along with the other delectable delights that I've experienced here,  half eaten by the time I thought of even looking for my camera.

So in the long, short of it, I have baked and I'm feeling still quite at peace and delighted at this place.

As a side note, this month I also saw a family of monkeys for the first time and have seen them quite a number of times since. Again, every time I'm too slow at getting my camera out to take the photo.

School life:
We just resumed back into school life after having a very relaxing mid-semester break. So, organization, resources, and the reality that you can influence someone's life hit me again.  It's not about me.  Although, it would help to have a laptop.  The need for my personal computer/laptop became a apparent when the old school laptop died on me. Not to worry, God even knows what I need and at the last minute, before leaving school today I discovered it was again working.

I'm becoming more relaxed in my planning and understanding a little bit more, but what I have definitely discovered is that the more I understand and feel comfortable with an aspect of the curriculum or the topic I teach, another door of new information is revealed. It's starting to feel like a never ending portal of information. It is encouraging to know that I have learnt so much already and to think how much more I would know eight weeks from now.

So, the break was well needed.  I was reminded of everyone's warnings about the exhaustion that one's first year in teaching is.  Sleeping, movies, and eating were quite a treat!

The Holiday:
A bunch of us from school did spoil ourselves and spent a two nights at the Raddison Hotel for the weekend, the day school ended. We enjoyed the pool, the sun, the food, and the opportunity to wear western clothing. A weekend at the Raddison in Dhaka is highly recommended

A few days later I also experienced Qurbani Eid  the atmosphere was peaceful and felt like the quiet anticipation one feels before a hot NZ Christmas.  Prior to the 'day', the whole city was chaotic and then went suddenly quiet. Not many were on the streets, comparatively, except for the proud owners of beautiful goats and cows strutting around ... with the goats on 'dog' leads.  The animals were decorated, fed and looked after well for a week or so prior to the sacrifices.  Yip, sacrifices.   The day of;  there were children and men gathering at the bottom of each apartment building, crowding around the animal. Within minutes, or at least within the hour, the beast was dead, skinned, gutted and the process of dividing up the meat began.  At about 1pm the poor, dressed in their best, wandered around, door knocking, and just like Halloween, would be given a treat, in this case a portion of meat. 

Even though I don't share the beliefs of my fellow suburb-ians, I quite enjoyed the festive spirit, people dressing up, eating heaps of food and what's more giving to the poor.  Despite the lingering smell of dead animals, this Eid (festival) was quite delightful as well. 

So, thus concludes this months post.  I am safe, happy, and anticipating greater adventures in the near future. Hopefully with more photos. 

Ciao for now.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Arrival - Part 2

Arrival continued ...

I haven't had much experience outside the comfort of my spacious apartment and the school, apart from the view from our school bus that takes us to and from school everyday.

The poverty here is amazing, and there has been a couple of times where I haven't been able to laugh along with other teachers in the bus, since my eye has caught a glimpse of some sad situation.  In saying that the desire to learn Bangla is fast coming upon me.  I cannot wait until I can take a rickshaw on my own and am able to know which direction I am heading or able to say left and right to the driver (walla).

I have, however, visited a church, again in the comfort of our private bus, and have meet some other Christians, predominantly missionaries and expat Christians.  Church is on a Friday here, which I like as you can just blob for the day, then when you are refreshed you have another day to do whatever you want.   It sort of feels like a long weekend, potentially for every weekend.  This does mean that you start school on a Sunday,  which I still can't quite get my head around when giving assignment due dates to the students, the days are a bit confusing then. 

Last Saturday I did venture out, with a few of the girls to one of the big markets, where I chose and bought material, this was a bit overwhelming at first, with the variety of pattern I could choose from. Once bought, we tottled over to the tailor and showed him a picture of what we wanted, he measured us and took our material to make the outfit, a Salwer Kameez (google it).  I'll take photos when I first try it on.

Talking of photos, here are some photos of my apartment, I'm sure you would love to see where I live ... and no I don't live in a thatched roof shack in the middle of nowhere, I do, however, have an apartment that is fully functional.

Below is my beautiful room, complete with air conditioning.  I think one of my next purchases will be a new bed cover.




 

 
 
 
 
 
 
My flat mate and I spent the evening rearranging the dinning table and furniture and found that the fridge, that cannot fit in the kitchen fits snuggly next to the wall unit in the little indent in our dinning area. 




 The kitchen with the door that leads to another door that leads to nothing.


Our Lounge. It's really cozy, I have spent many time just reading my books and looking out the window at the thunderstorms and not to mention the interesting characters that live across the street.





The View from our Balcony. I think it's ready for a good, but very small bbq.


 











Thank you for reading my blog.

I really should designate a time, other than school work time, to really upload posts. Until then, cioa for now.


 


 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Arrival - Part 1

Yes, I have arrived.  I arrived close to midnight last Saturday night,  since then it has been a whirlwind of integration into my new life. 

Oh, where do I begin?   I'm currently sitting in my beautiful dinning room, recently decorated by moi and my new flatmate, and trying to get my head around designing lessons and courses for, not only one year level, as I am trained to do in primary teaching, but five different year levels, let alone trying to understand the British curriculum and target setting.  Besides fighting the temptation to think that I am never going to understand this and give up, I am absolutely enjoying the school, the staff and even the content of the infamous subject that I thought I would never ever teach (ICT).

The children are delightful, they come from all over the world and bring so many diverse cultures to the school. Their stories are so interesting, even if they, themselves think their own story is not.

The teachers are very much the same with interesting stories of their own, but they are not as diverse culturally as the children. The majority of the staff are from the UK and a handful, including my flatmate, are from the States. In saying that we have a French teacher from Cameroon, a Korean teacher and a few Bangali Teachers. Most of the teachers, including myself, live in same apartment building, so we have become pretty close pretty fast.

When I first arrived I was taken directly to my new home with a set of keys and given a phone. The apartment is beautiful, it has 3 bedrooms, each with en'suite, a lounge, kitchen and separate dining. We also have a maid who is adorable. She makes sure that we are well fed, and have clean clothes everyday.  The roof is amazing, especially at night. the View during the day is limited but just as interesting for people watching as it is to watch the sunset. I have in my mind, and I am determined to have a party up there sometime soon, I'll let you know how that goes.

I have checked the time and I need to go to bed,  I am also fighting off the beginning stages of what I think could be the beginning of "Deli (Dhaka) Belly"  Oh dear, I was boasting to my boss this morning that I haven't felt the slightest bit sick since I arrived, I guess I spoke too soon.  I hope it doesn't last any longer than this evening. 

I'll continue on about my arrival over the next little while ... Until then, cioa for now.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Preparation

Preparing … with gratitude that brings joyfulness. It’s really funny how new information rearranges things on your priority list and within seconds, that's for sure. After pelting out my concerns and publishing it on the last post I received an email letting me know not to worry about insurance and vaccinations and why. Oh how much more have my days freed up since then? So now, yes, all I have to do is to sit, wait, with bags packed and ready to go at a moments notice. Well, not quite, I still have to wait for my visa to be processed. Still, who am I to be treated with such leisure?

Now that I have all the time in the world I can begin to think outside of my concerns and helping my mother where I can and as much as I can. Since my last my post, there have been huge changes. I no longer have a big, beautiful family home in Auckland, now we have a wonderful homely retreat in Tauranga. In amongst the tight time schedule of moving furniture, boxes and … well, stuff from one city to the next I have been spoilt with a leisurely few days in Tauranga, including having the most relaxed, enjoyable breakfast I have had in a long time. I have spent enjoyable days with my younger brother in the city, who flew over from Australia for a quick holiday.

Over all these past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to be still IN AMONGST organised and sometimes not so organised chaos, something that I had forgotten to appreciate in the last few months, perhaps even years.

Now, I am simply waiting for my visa to return to me, as I sit at the end of the couch, with my legs up on some unpacked boxes and my packed luggage next to me. As I am, I reminisce of the things that I will miss the most and the amazing blessings that I am so grateful for. And the more I think about it the more I realise I have more to be thankful for.

The privileges that I have experienced and am more than grateful for:
I have been longing to be alone with God with no other distractions and I am so amazed that even though I struggle with the impatience of waiting for my visa to be confirmed, I am blessed to have all this time to sit and be still, clear my mind and prepare myself mentally for the next season of my life. If I really think about it, this is exactly what I prayed for too.

As I was finishing off study last year, my prayer was that I would have a smooth transition into a job, something that I didn’t have to strive for, also to have time to relax and refresh myself before I teach. WOW, even though I had forgotten those prayers, God remembered them and answered them!

Secondly, I was able to spend the last night with an excellent friend before she left for The Big Apple (New York), although it’s sad to see her go and slowly being faced with the reality that I do not know when or where I will see her next, I am so happy to see her step into something that is in her heart to do, what a privilege to know someone personally that can inspire you to do the same.

I also had the privilege of being the first one to stay in my mother’s new house for a few nights. It’s a beautiful house and I treated myself to a hot bath, danced around the open plan floors and saw a few friends that blessed me with their card playing, laughs, stories, hugs and music but most of all their presence.

I miss my cat, every little shadow that I saw in the new house I thought it was Yoffi, and I would automatically call out his name to come to me. Oh, I think I will miss him more than I will let on. It is comforting to know that my good friends are looking after him for a little while, whom I am so grateful for, as well. I hope the cat shows his gratitude also … without using his teeth.

So a little more details about my new job in Bangladesh; I have a two year contract. Next summer (June) I will be offered a return flight back to NZ if I choose to. I have an Ayah (house maid) and I live in a three bedroom apartment, nice. I have a flatmate, who sounds fun and lovely, hence I can't wait to meet her!

So, if nothing else … LOOK, hunt out something to be grateful for and you will leisurely enjoy life amongst chaos.

Prayer: - Visa is taking longer than usual, pray for speedy arrival with no complications. It is all in God’s timing and I will enjoy every moment while I wait for it. - I am more than prepared for my first class, which starts on the 12th of August.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A New Season

I finally feel that I have a well good reason to use my blog that has been sitting here for the last couple of years.  I have changed the colour, background, fonts and all those pretty fun things on the page for the occasion ... YAY!

For the past few weeks I have been adjusting and preparing for a new season in my life.  The new season in my life, as some of you already know, is leaving the beautiful and charming homeland of New Zealand and heading for a job, finally, in the near east ... BANGLADESH!  I know, why would I go to Bangladesh, of all the places, who would of thought, right?

First of all: This has been an answer to numerous prayers, although, as I am sure that it is only human, I thought the answers would look a lot different and I would be clever enough to direct the circumstances to what I thought was the right path to go on for my prayers to be answered. I was wrong of course. Most of my prayers consisted of repeating the following 1) I need a paid job, 2) I want to go into Asia (potentially China), and  3) I need somewhere to live. The answer; I received a job offer in Asia, which in turn widens the connections and other international opportunities in Asia and across the non-western world (the bigger picture) .... and they, the school provide me with accommodation.

Right.  The purpose for this blog is to share how I am loving life and living life for those who are simply curious about the day and the life of someone who simply lives life and for those that want to stay connected but, do not have time to read the mass emails that are filling up their email inbox.

So now,  I have been offered and have accepted a job as a secondary ICT and Performing ARTS teacher at a Christian school called, Grace International School in Dhaka, Bangladesh (link below). 40% missionary kids 40% ex-pat kids and 20% other.

I'm so excited, bewildered, scared, walking into the unknown with little and no other contacts, apart from the two staff members who have stayed over the summer holidays.  I take comfort in remembering certain phrases such as, "Bite of more than you can chew and chew like billio!" and my favourite one is, "Trust in the Lord in all your ways and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths - Judaic Proverb".  Hanging on to the latter proverb has given me confidence throughout my life and after this last small season, I am humbled by how powerful it has become to me.

There are prayer requests and small challenges that have arisen since accepting the job. Although, the school is paying and booking my flights, it still doesn't mean I just sit back, pack my bags and wait completely.

Funding for my vaccinations and insurance is crazy expensive, and are therefore are at the top of my concerned list at the moment, especially when one has had their work hours cut.  Everything works together for good for those who love the Lord, so I'm concerned enough to actually search out prices, good deals and doctors, but not too worried to panic and waste my time fretting.

I also have to learn a new curriculum, understand secondary computing skills and plan for secondary students. Oh and then there is the food ... I heard I will certainly get "Delhi (Dhaka) belly" ... I'm not looking forward to those first few days.

Over all - I am amazed at how I have turned out, humbled by the blessings that I have. I am so blessed to have so many good things and people around me and about the timing of this whole advent. I have really been spoilt more than what I deserve, especially when I really think about what I can live without.

Your prayers, encouragement, advice, details of potential contacts in Dhaka and emails are more than welcome.

CHEERS!

http://www.graceinternationalschool.org/

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Loving Learning


To learn something new, asking questions, being wide eyed and mesmerised by your own ability and skill to achieve something, to know something new and where that something can take you, this is what I am doing now.  I started a blog and I felt quite chuffed with myself for achieving this 'great feat', a few days later I realized that what I thought was a home page was just a post ... I think - I have to laugh at my ignorance and innocence in this new ... well, new to me ... concept of communicating,so far I love it!   So please be patient with me while I find my way around this world of blogging.  

Love