NEW BLOG!!! Classroom Chit Chat

I’m so excited about a new project that I have started! I have created a blog in which students and others around the world can share, learn and talk about things that are happening in our world. Classroom Chit Chat is the name of the blog, and you can check it out now to see what it’s all about. Our very first chit chat post was filmed in Arequipa, Peru and features Classroom Chit Chat’s very first facilitators, my English students, who initiate the very first topic for discussion, traffic in Arequipa. So, I invite you to head over to check it out. It’s not just news but real people in real places sharing what’s real to them! Be our guest and see what’s going on in our world, the largest classroom ever!

You can find us at http://www.classroomchitchat.wordpress.com

or

 click here.

Categories: English, learn, Students, Teaching, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

American Freedoms Taken for Granted: “The Right to (or Not to) Vote”

OUR FREEDOMS AND RIGHTS - NARA - 516307

OUR FREEDOMS AND RIGHTS – NARA – 516307 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the U.S.A., we have so many freedoms to choose as we please in our daily lives that we may sometimes take our freedom of choice for granted until, that is, it is encroached upon. Voting is one of those privileges. While it is certainly within each of our rights as American citizens to choose not to vote, we may not realize what an opportunity we have. Just look at all of the nations who have within the past few years had internal battles with their own people crying out (and some even risking their lives) for the right to vote and have fair elections to choose their leaders, not saying that every election is fair though that’s what the people want. Though we may not always feel that our voices are heard or like our leaders really represent us, at least we have a political process which keeps us from having dictators or leaders who become leaders by default just because they are heirs to their countries’ late leaders.

I certainly understand that the whole election process can be frustrating at times, and so can government as well. Believe me, after traveling to different countries and meeting people in those countries and learning about their systems and government from the people, there are some things that even I believe our government would benefit from by looking at some of the things they do for their people. At the same time, seeing how things are done in some other countries, I also realize how truly blessed we are as Americans. America has its drawbacks, just like any and every other country in the world, but beyond any drawbacks, as I have gotten to experience what it’s like in several other countries, I can say today that I am blessed to have been born in America and to be an American.

Through my international travels, I have learned that in the U.S.A. we have been afforded so many freedoms which we may take for granted not realizing that there are so many around the world who do not have those same freedoms. Our right to vote or not to vote is one of those freedoms that we perhaps take for granted. Although, I know that this does not apply to everyone, especially those who remember a time when people like them were not afforded the right to vote because of things like skin color or gender. Well, nowadays, many people because of frustration and many other reasons choose no to vote, and it is within their rights to vote or not vote if they please without any repercussions.

However, I wonder, if there were repercussions to not voting, would those who choose not to vote still choose not to vote? Do people who choose not to vote take the freedom to vote for granted? Well, in my travels, I have found that some people have to pay a price for choosing not to vote. Our same freedom to choose not to vote is not a freedom to the people of Peru. In fact, every citizen of Peru is expected to vote, and anyone who does not vote must pay a hefty fine (no small change either) for not doing so. Imagine that! Something so many of us take for granted in America, someone else has to pay a price for in Peru if they take it for granted by not exercising the same right.

Now, I know our country, our government and our leaders are not perfect. Neither are any of us. However, let’s not take for granted our freedom of our right to vote. Though it may feel like our voices may not be heard, let them be counted. Someone somewhere else wishes they had your freedom. Never let your freedom be taken for granted. What you take for granted can be lost, and sometimes you don’t really understand what you had until it’s gone… Please, VOTE and be counted!!!

What are your thoughts on the freedom to choose to vote or not vote in the U.S.A.? If you’re from another country, I invite you to share about voting or what takes place in your country concerning government and freedoms of the people.

Categories: Freedom, Rights, Travel, U.S., Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

“A Beautiful Night”: Jerusalem’s Old City (Jerusalem, Israel)

While on my vacation in Israel, I took a few walks in the city of Jerusalem at night. This was one particular night in which I captured a beautiful picture of a view of the Old City in Jerusalem from a distance. “What a beautiful sight”, I thought with the shining light of a most beautiful full moon hovering above one of the most beloved places on earth for Christians, Jews and Muslims, alike. Don’t you agree?

Categories: Israel, Jerusalem, tourist spot, Travel, vacation | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Welcome Difference: “A Beautiful Friend, A Beautiful Family” (Jericho, Palestine: Israel)

I truly believe that we are more alike than we are different. Why should we let our differences prevent us from showing love or kindness to others who are different from ourselves? Well, I believe that we can acknowledge that we are different while welcoming each other as we are.

While in Israel, I met a very kind and lively young woman who worked at a restaurant that I ate at while on tour in Jericho. Besides the fact that she was Muslim and I was Christian, we talked that day and found out that we had so much in common, more than our difference in faith. Well, she invited me to visit her home while I was there, and I gladly accepted the invitation. So, before I left Israel, I called her up to make plans to visit her and her family.

I went on the third day of Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan which is considered a time for spiritual purification for Muslims. During Eid al-Fitr, families come together and celebrate the end of the fasting period of Ramadan with lots of traditional dishes and delicacies and fun.

Though I was Christian, I was welcomed as if I was part of the family. Some of the members of my friend’s family even thought I looked like family and that I could be Palestinian. I had a great time with some great food. We visited the center of town where they were heavily celebrating in the main center and to the park for some entertainment for the children. Lol…I even rode in the bumper cars. My friend’s sister and family insisted that I spend the night with them. So, I did.

The next morning, we had breakfast together and chatted. The whole time I was with them, they were just so welcoming and took care of me very well. We shared a truly memorable experience that I will carry with me for years to come. Though our faiths were different, the love that we are commanded to show others brought us together in a welcoming way.

“Love God, Love People”

 

Categories: God, Inspirational, Israel, Love, Spiritual, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, tourist spot, Travel, Uncategorized, vacation | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

“From Learning Pool to Chilling By the Pool” (Saudi Arabia)

So, from learning pool as a past-time while in Saudi, I would occasionally hangout by the pool outside of the pool house. There wasn’t much to do on our small compound, but every now and again, I’d just walk over to the pool house just to get out of the villa…and lol…take pictures as you can see which was one of the favorite things for the compound office staff to do. I can still hear them say, “Make picture”.

Categories: KSA, Saudi Arabia, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 19 Comments

Passing the Time: “Learning Pool” (Saudi Arabia)

In Saudi Arabia, I would spend some of my afternoons and evenings at our compound’s pool house. There, we had a pool table, lounge (with projector to watch movies from your computer on the big screen or the wall, actually) and sauna. Sometimes, I would just go there just to get out of the villa for a change. Other times, I’d go to use the Internet or maybe watch something.

Well, some of the guys would play pool and invite me to play. I didn’t really know how, but they showed me how and gave me some on the spot mini-lessons and pointers. So, whenever I had some spare time which there seemed to be a lot of in Saudi, I would go over and practice a little pool. I think I actually got a little good at it after only playing about a couple of months but definitely wasn’t a pro or anything like that. Though, someone once likened me to the Tiger Woods of pool. Wait a minute. Maybe that was just me :-) . However, I did win a few games played with some of the pros on the compound which not only surprised me but them too sometimes because they weren’t just trying let me win. So, maybe I do have a bright future in pool after all…lol. So, I have golf from Korea and now pool from Saudi. Hmm…maybe I should seriously include them in my back up plans. Don’t you think?

So, in your traveling, what things have you learned that have helped you pass the time?

Categories: Entertainment, KSA, learn, Saudi Arabia, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: “Together with My Adoptive Grandfather on Tour” (Alexandria, Egypt)

Okay, I took the photo challenge for this week. This is a picture taken during my vacation in Egypt. I was in Alexandria, Egypt just getting ready to go inside to see the Pillar of Pompey when my guide and a couple other guides from Memphis Tours began some friendly chatter. (Silly me…I thought they were all the way from Memphis, Tennessee. However, Memphis used to be the capital city of ancient Egypt which is what they are named after.) He told me that one of the guides wanted to take a picture with me and that he would be my adoptive grandfather. Lol…not only do stray cats find adoptive families around the world, but so do people. Well, at least I seem to, and I love it :-D

Categories: Egypt, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, tourist spot, Travel, Uncategorized, vacation | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

“One of My Most Eager Saudi Students”: An Emotional Diary Account of Her Life

One day, one of my most eager Saudi students came to me after class. She did this several times as she was eager to improve her English and sometimes had a question, asked for a resource or just wanted to share, utilizing her English. Though she felt she was very bad in English, I felt she was one of my best students because she tried her best and was motivated to learn. On this particular day, she shared with me that the day before, she had been sitting at home with nothing to do and just began to write a diary (entry) of her life.

She was so proud of what she wrote having written her thoughts out in English to the best of her abilities. She thought it wouldn’t make much sense as she handed her notebook to me to read. However, as I read it, I was amazed by what she had written and how she had expressed herself. I encouraged her that what she did was a great example of her desire to learn and improve her English because some students barely want to do any work in class, let alone attempt to express themselves in written form outside of class as she did. I impressed upon her that even she was going a step further by both thinking about her feelings and expressing what she felt about her life in English. Even though there were some mistakes, her efforts were far greater than any apparent errors and that I could understand what she had written and meant despite her (writing) mistakes.

As a matter of fact, understanding what she meant caused my eyes to water, and I almost cried. Thinking about her being so eager to learn with such big hopes for her future which to her will never see the light of day because of the restrictions placed on her as a woman in Saudi Arabia and what she feels her religion will dictate for her future. I tried to encourage her that she can be successful and to not give up her hopes for her future because anything is possible. Not only that, but as she keeps practicing her English will continue to improve, as well.

So without further ado, you may read her thoughts (below) about her life that she shared with me on that day.

[Click on the image for a larger view.]

So what are your thoughts about what my student shared? What was your feeling as you were reading?

Categories: English, hopes, KSA, language, learn, Motivation, Saudi Arabia, Students, Teaching, Teaching EFL/ESL experience, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Defeating What Seeks to Bring You Down By Accomplishing Your Goals” (Lizzie Beautiful)

I just watched this amazing and inspiring video by a truly courageous, inspirational and oh so beautiful young lady by the name of Lizzie. Her story is so encouraging to me as I go through life trying to accomplish my goals and dreams in spite of all the negative, discouraging and unkind things people can say or do which can bring me down. Lizzie is a testament to the fact that God knows what He’s doing when He creates each of us, and He knew that Lizzie would be an inspiration to so many. She definitely is to me! I would like to tell you her story, but I think she can do a better job than I can. So, watch her video, learn her story and be encouraged!

“Introducing Lizzie Beautiful”

For more inspiration from Lizzie, please visit her website: www.aboutlizzie.com.

Categories: dreams, goals, God, hopes, Inspiration, Inspirational, Love, Motivation, Motivational, U.S., Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Inside the Red Pyramid”: Dashur, Egypt

Boy was I ever adventurous in Egypt! Do you see that? I’m at the entrance/exit of the Red Pyramid in Dashur, Egypt.

At the entrance/exit of the Red Pyramid

I was so happy to be at the top! However, going up and down those stairs to it was anything but happy for me. Why? Well, you see, I’m a little afraid of heights. So, I was trying to hang onto every rail that I could get my hand on…lol.

View from top of steps of Red Pyramid

Well, once I made it to the top, I started my descent down into the pyramid. Yes, I said down. Venturing inside a pyramid means going down a ladder-like pathway, and the best way to do this is walking down backwards. I’ll tell you one thing, if you haven’t exercised in a good while, then your legs are going to get a real workout. I know mine did. To add to that, keep in mind the hot temperatures outside and the fact that you’re going down into an enclosed¬† infrastructure. It’s hot and humid with an awful smell. Even before getting to the end of the pyramid, I was sweating like I was in a sauna. Oh, but what a sweet pay-off once I made it to the end of my first ever walk through a pyramid! Excuse me if I got a little silly, but I had to take a few pictures and video of it all even if I was shining like new money in glistening sweat…lol.

Place the body would be in the Red Pyramid

Roof inside the Red Pyramid

Now for some funny video of me documenting my journey out of the Red Pyramid…

Now for a few more pictures…

View below from entrance of Red Pyramid

Red Pyramid

Behind the Red Pyramid

Behind the Red Pyramid

View of Bent Pyramid from Red Pyramid

What an awesome experience it was for me to get a chance to not only see the pyramids but to actually get to go inside of one. The Red Pyramid was awesome! If you ever go to Egypt, I think it would be worth your while to purchase a ticket to venture into any one of the pyramids that allows entrance. To me, going inside was like being inside of a page of a history book!

Categories: Egypt, Entertainment, tourist spot, Travel, vacation | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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