So I've taken to seeing my students as sort of angels. They totally make what I'm doing here worth every struggle. They're amazingly supportive, kind and interested in me. I try my hardest to reciprocate what they give me by being the best teacher I can be, not only of English but also of the world in general. If you've read Joseph Conrad's The Water is Wide (which I highly recommend you do if you haven't), Conrack is my teaching model. I want the kids to be aware of the world around them, not of just preterit tenses and adjective clauses.
Before I left for training and Christmas in Ulaanbataar I invited all of my students over to my house to learn how to make Christmas cookies and watch the Muppet Christmas Carol. In total I think I had about 17 kids show up that day and maintained a state of controlled chaos in my kitchen for around two hours. They voraciously housed two and a half boxes of Swiss Miss a family friend had sent me recently in addition to concocting three different cookie batters- oatmeal raisin, sugar and thumbprint jam. Unfortunately all but the latter flopped in the oven for some reason but that didn't dampen their spirits at all. When they could, they snuck peeks at Pussycat Doll music videos on my internet and posed for each others camera phone pictures. When it was wind-down time, all of them piled onto my futon and I turned on the movie with subtitles. They were sucked in instantly- I don't think they had ever seen puppets before. When the characters began to sing in the film, all of the kids automatically started crooning with them, as if it was one of those Disney sing along videos with the bouncing mouse head on the lyrics. They had never heard the songs before and thusly created quite a cacophony. It was precious. At the end they presented me with juice and some very expensive candies which they had bought together before they had arrived at my apartment hours before. Then descended my icy stairs hooting "goodbye, teacher!", "thank you!", "today was very funny!", "you are a wonderful teacher!!" as they left. It was the best possible way to leave Hovd.
When I got back, I informed them that their projects should be ready for presentation. The younger class had to write a report on a famous person of my choosing. The list was this: Martian Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Lewis and Clark, Harriet Tubman, Mother Teresa, Alexander the Great, Eleanor Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth I and Galileo Galilei. I thought it was a good smattering of times, places and genders for them. They have spent the last two months researching and were ready to present. Yesterday Queen Elizabeth I, Mother Teresa and Amelia Earhart went. They learned so much- it was tremendously rewarding. Things from Anne Boleyn's death to the difference between Catholic and Protestant, from what a Saint of the Gutter is to where on the globe to fine Iceland. They were absorbed in the stories and participated while their fellow students read their reports then asked mountains of questions after the papers were finished. Today hopefully Harriet Tubman, Gandhi and Mandela will be the topic of class and their eyes will be opened to even more great leaders of the past. Leaders that I hope will inspire these angels to fly as high as they possibly can.