That was a rather ridiculously long title, but I really couldn't think of anything much more cohesive to say about what I'm about to post, because they're totally unrelated events. I always like to throw in some pictures of students, and so I thought the best way to do that was to cover the top events of the past week. Last Friday, as in the 29th of January we had our pub night. It was a pretty low turnout, but I actually prefer it like that. I was able to have some good quality talks with several students. One of my students had her cousin and his wife come with her. They have recently moved to Sokolov, a town near Cheb, after the man lived in the US for 30 years. It was really nice to chat with someone who has perspectives on both types of life and who is trying to deal with the reverse culture shock in the country he left when he was 14. Through talking I told them my family lives in Idaho, and they told me they'd visited Idaho in September. Come to find out they were actually in Moscow where a friend of his works at the University. How random is that? Talk about a small world.
Only one of my daily students came for the evening, and I had a really nice talk with her. She was able to help affirm me in my teaching style, which is always helpful. She said that she really feels her English has improved a lot having me as her teacher. At the beginning of the year she was quite self conscious, but because of my limited correction style, the goal of which is a greater level of fluency, she's become more self confident in speaking, which helps her to improve a lot. It was good to see that there are people who believe my techniques are helpful. She said this as a direct contrast to a fellow teacher who gives constant correction which she finds quite unhelpful. So I suppose the balance is really what helps create improvement. Either way, it's nice to know that my style is appreciated ;)
This is me and Martina. Her cousin is the one who lived in the US.
This is me and Tyna. She's the one daily student who came.
Since I mentioned Sokolov, and since the next pictures I have are from Sokolov, I'll talk about it briefly next. On Wednesday I headed out to Sokolov to do another mid-year reflection. Because of strange train schedules I had to take a train an hour early, so I was able to wander around the city for a while. I went to the square and enjoyed the snow covered monuments, taking a moment to enter the old church where and old man and woman mumbled their holy prayers in the presence of so much ancient glory. Then I wandered through the park and checked out all the ducks on the frozen waterways. It was a sunny afternoon so that made it all better, despite the slushy trails I had to muck my way through.
I had a fairly busy week, despite the fact that I was still enjoying some extra free time in the mornings while Jonathan covered for me as payment for his holiday. Amazing all the things that manage to fill up every empty space I manage to make room for in my schedule. As I said in a recent post, I'd really love to be officially writing some greater project, but I somehow can't seem to even find time to get all the other practical things I need to be doing in my life taken care of, so it's not surprising that I don't find time for things that seem almost frivolous. Although the idea of a great life work isn't really something to laugh at I suppose. All the same, it's hard to make it happen. I suppose that's true at every moment in life. I keep waiting for that time when I suddenly have all this extra time. I had that in Salem, but managed to fill it up with "friends" (aka TV programs :P)
So the week flew by and suddenly it was Friday again, and with that came my first real ples. Now I did manage to go to a ples (similar to a high school prom but much more ceremonial and open to family and friends, not just students) my first year, but it was only a side invitation. I sort of knew the girl from church, I at least knew who she was, but she would never have invited me to the event. Tammy just managed to get us tickets. But this time I was really and truly officially invited. And not just over facebook, as I've been invited to at least 5 other pleses. I don't really count those because they aren't directly making contact. But I knew that Eva actually wanted me to come, and that made me hugely excited.
All this means that Friday night I got all gussied up and headed to the ball with a very handsome man in tow ;) I do love an occasion to dress up every now and again, and this was the perfect one. We even ended up with a nice table to sit at, because we went with Karina and another Eva who is a teacher at the gymnasium. So we sat together with them at the teacher table because there weren't very many other teachers there. Super cool.
I had a great chance to talk to my student at the beginning, which was a blessing since she was so busy the rest of the night that I only saw her from a distance when she was performing. She's a professional belly dancer, so besides the group dances that the class did, she gave a solo performance as well. She did one really traditional belly dance and then one with a sword. Most impressive. I was excited to finally see her dance because she'd told me so much about it before. A lot of my other students were there as well, so it was fun to see them there all dressed up, and to watch their expressions when they recognized me 8) That smiley face was to represent just how big their eyes were when they realized that I could actually dress up. Of course the hair is all to Tammy's credit and not my own. I'm still hopeless at hair preparations. Ah well. It was a lovely night.
My last picture is a tribute to the continued domestication of Sarah. Mark's parents have been super sweet, and have sent food home with me on several occasions. Last week they sent two bananas along with enough meat for a week. Now, for those who know me very well, you realize that bananas are far from being at the top of Sarah's choice of favorite foods. So they sat on my table, and I contemplated what to do with them. I didn't want to just waste them, but neither did I want to eat them. In the end, I had the brilliant idea of making banana bread. And therefore I went to the internet in search of "easy banana bread recipes" and found one that called for only 2 bananas, and I proceeded to make it. Naturally I was short on some supplies, and simply didn't have any shortening or grease for the pan, so I substituted butter for those, and added in some coarse flour because I didn't have enough of the regular kind, and ended up with banana bread all the same in the end. It actually looked really nice when it was done, and tasted lovely and buttery in the end so it was all good.
And there you have a week in review with a photo accompaniment. Dobrou Chut!