Global Classrooms: Round 1

We had our first Global Classrooms conference last week!  Well, it was more of a practice round for my segundos (8th grade students) and I, seeing as we had never participated in a conference before.  We hosted it at my school, Ría del Carmen, in the sala de conferencias (conference room) on the second floor.  64 students, 5 teachers, and 3 Fulbrighters, from 3 area schools, kicked off the 2014 Global Classrooms season with this “mini-conference.”


As I’ve written before, Global Classrooms is a model UN program that has been simplified for English-language learners.  It’s very formal; the students have to dress up, use the formal UN vocab when they want to speak, and prepare speeches for the event.  The topic for this grade level is education; each delegation had to research what kinds of problems exist with education in their country and make suggestions about how to improve it. To get a better idea of what the students are working towards, I can send you some powerpoints and worksheets…or you can take a few minutes and watch this video:

The culmination of Global Classrooms will be in March, when 15 area high schools send their best, hardest working students to participate in the Santander conference.  But for now, we are getting ready for our regional conference, in February, in which everyone gets to participate.

My segundos had been working very hard to prepare their position papers and speeches for the mini-conference , while my fellow Fulbrighters and I had been doing our fair share of prep work, as well.  Even though the kids had made it clear to us that didn’t they own anything nicer than jumpers and trainers (that’s British English, in case you were wondering), they somehow all managed to show up Tuesday looking pretty spiffy.  They were  super nervous to give their 90 second speeches, but they all rocked it and made me one proud teacher.  Speaking spontaneously during the “informal debate” time, on the other hand, is something we’ll definitely be working on before the next conference comes around.  Most of the debate went like this…

Nepal: “USA, we would like for you to give us money for girls education.”

USA: “How much?”

Nepal: “3 schools”

USA: “Okay”

The students’ favorite part of the conference?  Unmoderated caucus.  This is the time when you get up from your seats and make deals to give other countries imaginary money, etc.  Just to give you an idea of what international relations would be like if thirteen-year olds ruled the world, here are some of the resolutions that were created during our conference:

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

I don’t know who had more fun, the kids…or us!



Welcome Home

It was a strange sensation to arrive home, in Santander, after spending two-plus* weeks at home, in Michigan.  As I sat in the back of the taxi I’d hailed to take me from the bus station to Calle del Sol, I marveled at the streets and sights (and warmth!) of my Spanish city. How blessed I am to be able to call both places home, to have clothes and coffee mugs and friends and familiarity in two different cities.

I spent one snowy Thursday morning in Michigan, just after the New Year, reflecting on some of my goals from the previous year, and setting new goals for the upcoming months and year.

In August, I set 8 goals for myself for my time in Spain.

Some of these goals have been achieved (#2, 5, 7), others are in progress (#1, 3, 6, 8) and I still have absolutely no idea if I would ever want to be a teacher in the US of A (#4).

I’ve added a few more goals to this list:

9. Eat out once a week at a new restaurant around town.

10. Hug my housemates everyday (I know, this might seems like a strange one, but who else is going to give us hugs?!? You might get “dos besos” from a Spanish acquaintance…but a good solid hug?  Not so much.  We have the privilege and responsibility of being each others best friends and family for the time being).

11. Share something at church – a prayer, a verse, a story.

So here we are, in 2014.  A fresh year, to be filled with new stories and new challenges.

Mostly, I’m just so happy I don’t have to do this year alone.  There are some really awesome people who are going to walk through the ups and downs and transitions of 2014 with me, and  for that I am so grateful.

It is really good to be back here.  To be in a routine, to see my Fulbright and Spanish friends, to go grocery shopping, to grade papers, to have Bible study on Wednesday nights, to double my daily consumption of white bread and chocolate, to get birthday cards from my students, to have the excitement of Spanish youth burning toilet paper in the second floor boys bathroom, etcetera, etcetera.

Oh, and just one more thing:

For Christmas, Bryn gave me the book Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott. I highly recommend it. You can borrow it, if you’d like, as long as you’re okay with all my underlining and smiley faces littering the pages- and you must promise to return it.  But anyways, there was this quote that resonated with me and that I want to share with you:

“Sometimes- oh, just once in a blue moon- I resist being receptive to God’s generosity, because I am busy with a project and trying to manipulate Him or Her into helping me with it, or with getting my toys fixed or any major discomfort to pass.  But God is not a banker or a bean counter. God gives us even more, which is so subversive.  God just gives, to us, to you and me.  I mean, look at us!  Yikes.  God keeps giving, forgiving, and inviting us back.  My friend Tom says this is a scandal, and that God has not common sense. God doesn’t say: ‘I have had it this time. You have taken this course four times and you flunked again.  What a joke.’ We get to keep starting over. Lives change, sometimes quickly, but usually slowly…”  – Anne Lamott

*The “plus” was not intentional, but many thanks to winter storm Hercules, I was able to be home for a few extra days!