Monday, September 15, 2014

A Tall Shot of GIN

It was Saturday morning and I was baking cookies.  Freakin' kids.
Back in June two of my favorite students (by which I mean actual favorites, not "You're all my favorites!") came and asked if I would be an advisor for our newly founded Global Issues Network.  They said they were asking me because I'd been in Mongolia for longer than most of the teachers and was involved with the greater community...and because they wanted to use my classroom.  But personally, I think that while the above are good reasons to ask a teacher to be an advisor for your club, the real reason they asked me is the fact that I'm a sucker.  Engrish put it most succinctly when she said, "Like you could say no to them."
Even if it hadn't been those two, I probably would have said yes.  I heard about GIN for the first time at the ACAMIS conference I attended this spring, and was hoping the school would get involved in something similar, if not GIN itself.  When a former classmate attending our rival school came and presented about it, hoping to get our kids involved, the response was overwhelming.
Well, this past Saturday was the commencement of their first project - a kind of Saturday afternoon community center in one of the ger districts.  The issue they are working on is "Education for All," and I was really proud of how they organized everything - from the activities to the games and even the food and drinks for their opening ceremony.  My students had a great time, and I know that the kids they are working with will learn a lot.  I couldn't imagine a better extracurricular activity to be involved with - they are developing a lot of great leadership skills, have done an excellent job of delegating what needs to be done so that everyone is involved...I couldn't be more proud of them if I tried.
I remember, when I was about 13 years old or so, my family went to Kansas City's theme park, Worlds of Fun.  My mom had just finished watching the "Stax of Wax" show in their nice, air conditioned theater, and I was bugging her to buy me something, when she said something that has kind of stuck with me for more than 20 years.  She said, essentially, "When you work as hard as those kids in that show, I'll buy you anything you want."  I look at these kids now - especially my seniors - and I think I understand what my mom meant.  I may be a sucker for them, but it's because they are so damn good.  They're not perfect - hell, there have been a few times I've lost my temper with them - but they have good hearts and strong minds.  They give me hope that all is not lost for us here in this little corner of the universe.

And that's why I'm taking them to Turkey.  My plans for a spring break trip focused on art and history got approved a week ago, and while willingness to take 20 hormonal teenagers to the other end of Asia on my free time may be a mark against my sanity, the admin team approved it anyways. If it weren't for the fact that it will be shortly followed by their graduation I wouldn't be able to wait.

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