April third marks the beginning of the ninth month for me in the US. August third feels so far away yet so near. I keep reminding myself of the time; I hardly catch up. I am getting to know people more and they began to find out about me more. It seems that the end opens up new beginnings. It seems only natural. I knew my oldest friend in Egypt almost 30 years ago. I have known others in more recent years. I am just beginning to know a few more in the recent days. You need to water Friendship with time and conscious effort. Unfortunately, the former depends on the latter. When you are young, your life is full of first things that you do in life. So is the same when you are in a new country for just a little over ten months, your life is so full of many last things that you've just started. This we have to accept and it is always wise not to try to go anti clockwise. Eighty one days to go. I am very excited to go back and share this experience with my fellow teachers and my students.
Harvest of school year, September 2007 through March 2008, Tanta, Egypt. NO Professional development hours. NO class observation hours. Workshop hours are as many as none. NO communication with professionals from other countries. No free time. That is quite an achievement of NOTHING although I was doing all the important work in my school.
Harvest of school year, August 2008 through March 2009: CGS, Norwalk, CT. I lost track of how many professional development hours I had since we started this program. At least 10 hours of class observation. A lot of workshop hours. One million hours of communicating with professionals from other countries. Free time is well spent. That is a great year and is highly recommended to EVERY professional teacher. WE WANT MORE. Were there challenging times? Of course there was but it was all manageable and an essential part of the experience. I will go back to my home school not just with new teaching approaches but new life approaches as well. It is a lesson professionally delivered and well learned. Good job everybody.
I like spring here. When you get close to the leafless trees, you can see little green dots. Well, I mean in a few weeks. Life is coming back again to those dead looking trees. Mother Nature is never bored with us always reminding us that what looks unfruitful at times can be very fruitful at other times. We just need to learn how to wait. I can see the blooming months coming alive with lots of fruits and green.
I do not know why I feel like blogging these days. Maybe it is one of the few times that I have some free time! Or maybe it is the Spirit of St. Patrick Day. Anyway, I am looking at the program goals as well as my personal goals. For some time, they did not seem to meet, but surely there is a meeting point. I am not sure I want to share with everybody how but at least I am happy with my conclusions. I just cannot help thinking about this year and it helps me more to compare it with the year before. I will save the comparison for another blog.
Today starts my eighth month in Norwalk, CT. It took me a while to adjust to living here. At the beginning, I felt very lonely and stayed days all by myself. It did not feel good. I was fully aware of the loneliness that I would feel, and the feeling of being far from everything and everyone. I could perceive it all but I almost could not stand it. Today starts the eighth month. Is that really true? Apparently yes. Is it going as slow? Apparently not. How much have I achieved? A lot. How much more do I want to achieve? A lot more than what I did. Do I have time? I do not know. I know one thing; time is so precious to see it go by without making the best of it. Killing the time is not the best idea ever, using time wisely is always more meaningful and more beneficial on the short as well as the long run.
I miss my children a lot. I should give my wife a lot of credit for being able to stay supportive to me and to them all that time. I think I should nominate her for TCLP next year at least to give her some time off to make up for all the time she had to be with the children on her own. Well I do not think she would be interested anyway. It is such a great experience.
"Nothing could have prepared us for the tour in Egypt" A teacher who recently visited Egypt told me. The nine American students and the American chaperone were overwhelmed by the greatness of the ancient Egyptian civilization. The diversity of the cultures that existed throughout history makes it almost impossible to catch up with its intensity. Students started with the Egyptian Museum where different eras of Egypt are displayed, from the pre dynastic rule to the different dynasties that ruled Egypt. Ramses the second, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, the Romans, the Persians, the Greeks, the effect of Christianity on the second half of the first century and the Islamic invasion in the seventh century, the Ottoman empire, the French invasion, the British colonization; etc. All this makes of Egypt a unique place for every visitor.
Students experienced the places they read about in books as live right in front of their eyes. They were able to touch what it seemed once to them as nonexistent. The home stay experience was most positive and beneficial; culturally and linguistically. Students recorded on the school iPods their conversations with their host parents and siblings. They kept a journal for everything they saw and for other teenagers they met. They are already talking about going back and others are talking about inviting their host siblings to come over to the US and visit.
For me, as an Egyptian teacher and a chaperone for American students, I strongly felt that I was revisiting the history of my own country with new eyes. I have seen my own country and probably my own self entirely different through the eyes of our American students. It was so inspirational that it really made me envision HISTORY reaching out for the PRESENT as if they were planting new seeds of global understanding for a brighter FUTURE for every human being.
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