Monthly Archives: May 2011

Cheap Motivation Tricks

The year is winding down, but only kind of – the seniors just had their last day of class today, but we still have a good three weeks with everyone else. So it’s this strange mix of saying goodbye to the seniors (many of whom I will miss a great deal) but still trying to keep the juniors pushing through to the end of the year. Just to give you an idea of how exhausting this is, I realized today around 8:45 am that I had put my boxers on backwards this morning because the little hole in the front was mysteriously missing. Though this was quite distressing, I promptly forgot about it only to be re-distressed around 10 am, 1:30 pm etc… It took me until after dinner to fix the situation. Let’s just say I’m ready for summer.

This past Thursday, at the end of a long week in a tough time of the year, we had a class that had been rescheduled from earlier in the week because of an all school assembly. That class just happened to be the same class that is normally last period of the week (during which they are naturally restless and excited for the week to be over), so I was blessed with an hour and a half long Physics period from 2:15-3:50 pm on a Thursday afternoon in late May. Great.

I knew that I had to do something to keep them going, so I decided that I would show them a picture of me from college and tell them a story every 15 minutes. This turned out (unsurprisingly) to be hilarious, minus the minor annoyance of a kid shouting “LOOK HOW MUCH HAIR YOU HAD!” I showed them pictures of me dressed up as a goth, doing ballet while hypnotized in front of 3000 people, dressed up as Thomas Jefferson, rocking my IMP costume and menacing the Lawn in a Gorilla costume with a baseball bat. But my favorite was this one to the left, which is from a formal dance in high school. Chauncey and I were two of the main organizers for the dance so we took pictures with the crowns, which made for a nice, easy lie to tell my students. It was perfect because they are all in prom mode right now and have been insisting I go. I have gotten invitations to ride in a Limo, advice about which young teachers I should ask, and encouragement to come because they want someone “youngish” there. I don’t think they realize that as a chaperone, the only person who asks you to go to prom is your boss.

So, long story short, it’s close enough to the end of the year for the countdown to be on. Though there are only thirteen more school days, and 23 actual days until I’m on a plane back home, there are countless hours of grading, planning, test making and classroom managing between me and summer. I’ll just have to find more creative ways to break it up and keep myself going.

Bosama Bin Dickson

The other week I got the latest edition of the Economist placed mysteriously on my desk:

Something about the whole scenario just cracked me up. The mail situation is a little sketchy at school, but I mean, I have a mailbox, so why the freaky appearance of Osama’s picture out of nowhere on my desk? Is this a sign? And did the person who was placing the post it note TRY to put it right in the middle of his face? Or on his mouth? Did I shut Osama up? Or am I Osama’s dream? Is this actually saying “Now, kill Bowman”? Is this a sign that I am NEXT?!??

Just like it was interesting to be living in the Middle East during the Egyptian revolution, Osama’s death was another event that I feel like experienced much differently off of American soil. To be honest, I didn’t know what to feel about the whole thing, but I certainly didn’t feel like partying in the streets. It was interesting watching people on the news cheering in Times Square waving American flags, and I couldn’t be helped but reminded of watching Iraqi protests of George Bush during the Iraq War.

Now, of course I’m not comparing the two men, but don’t the two pictures above have completely the same vibe? I mean, it’s so easy to look at Iraqi’s as “the other” when watching them on the news, but it’s weird for me to have the same feeling about Americans because I’m so far away from home and no one here is partying in the streets, so I can’t feel that communal triumph the Americans in the picture are feeling. It makes me ask myself how people from Latvia, or Chile, or Mongolia see all of this. The biggest thing I have learned from living abroad and being a part, even if marginally, of a whole different society, is how easy it is to be Americentric living in the US of A and how hard it is to break that mindset. I hope this isn’t sounding pretentious – I mostly am just trying to say that it’s just nice to be able to see your country from an outside perspective and to be able to feel first hand the perspective of “the other.”

I was talking with one of my students, who is Palestinian,  and she mentioned that she was happy he was gone so that there would be less skewed misrepresentations of Islam in the world. And in the end, for some reason that was the feeling with which I most identified. It’s probably just because I’m here, because you know I would have been out in the streets if I lived in New York City instead. But that I realized I’m not happy that he’s gone, because now that he’s off the list, all signs point to the fact that I’m next…