Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bulletin Boards & Churching

If I had known about bulletin boards…
Churchopedia #10 (Church #32): Anglicans Abroad

This particular entry has writings and pictures, so be sure to scroll down to the end!

If had known, back when I was in elementary school, how much time my teachers spent on bulletin boards, I would have treated them differently. I would have praised every perfectly cut letter, noted their expert stapling and admired their creative use of construction paper. If I had known…

I spent this week in meetings, and in my spare time, getting my classroom ready. I actually did not mind the meetings as much as I normally do, as the newness of it all helped me get better acquainted with the staff and school. Even when things did not apply to me (and rarely do they apply to art/PE/music/library/computers), I searched for connections and enjoyed figuring out my coworkers by the questions they asked and the comments they made. I came away with the realization that I am working with a committed, talented, and hard-working group of people. Nothing new, of course, I’m used to a staff like that. But it was very impressive to see a community pull together and push through policies, expectations and decisions in a very short amount of time.

This staff is going through a kind of rebirth. In the three years the school has been open, the elementary, middle and high schools all functioned as one giant school. They had a director, principal and assistant principal. As the school expanded this year, the staff has almost doubled and we now have an elementary principal, specific to Pre-K through 5th grades. She is inspiring to work for and with, but she also understands the stresses of a new job in a new country because she is going through all of the same experiences right now.

Since my last entry, I have been continuing my roller-coaster ride between excitement and some of the most horrible stress I have ever experienced. Things in the apartment were fixed, and more things broke (tonight, the bathroom flooded). Work is overwhelming, but becoming more manageable. I have been walking into work around 6:00 a.m. and exiting about 12 hours later. I spent several hours both days of the weekend working in my classroom.

But I think it paid off, because I have such a pure sense of ownership for what is in my room and what I am teaching. With the help and support of my coworkers, including my direct supervisor (the head of performing arts) and my principal, I have put aside the concern for potential failure and focused on what is possible. Though I foresee many mistakes, I also have a greater appreciation for the lessons learned and the successes celebrated.

Check out THAT world drumming kit!
My desk and Smart Board.
I love the windows and right below, my world music instruments.
Story corner. Welcome to your new home, Baby Beluga!
We will add a pin whenever we sing a song from around the world.
The back wall.
The front wall.
My "Three Rs" Matrix. Niemanites, you might recognize this format. :-/
Door to the hallway and electric keyboard.

I did take a couple breaks this weekend. On Thursday night after school, I swam laps with my friend, Linda, and we had dinner on her balcony. Linda is my scuba instructor (I’m going to scuba dive!) and quite possibly one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She has lived all over the world, overcome huge obstacles and still has the spiritedness of a teenager and the wisdom of someone who has lived a long and full life.

Friday morning, I went with three friends to church in Zamalek. All Saints Cathedral is located on an island in the Nile (Zamalek), which is a bustling place full of shops, restaurants and lots of traffic. I took a taxi in with Krista, the elementary art teacher who also lives in my compound. We met up with two more friends and attended the Anglican service that had a mix of the traditional Episcopalian worship, with which I am familiar, and a more contemporary/mainline protestant approach.

The Cathedral is interesting because the one building serves three congregations: English-speaking, Sudanese and Arabic. If people do not fit into the latter two, they attend the English-speaking service, resulting in a congregation of attendants from all over the world. The Priest is from Scotland and we met people from Ghana, Madagascar, Australia, England and Burma. Though the church is small, there is a generous amount of young people and we all went to lunch afterwards. The service was more conservative and less thought provoking than what I like, but the community is very worthwhile and I can see myself returning.

Tomorrow is the first day for students and I am less anxious now that my room is complete. After school, I hope to ride the bus to Maadi where I will buy a cheap violin and stay the night with some teachers that live there. Hopefully, that will prompt another blog entry.

With that, I close out my third set of 10 churches, “Churchopedia.” “Churches International” will be my next round, if I continue the religious aspect of this journey (and how could I not?).

All Saints Cathedral.
The Chapel, where Friday services are held.
The organ and the awesome mural.
I love this chandelier. 
The ceiling (you'll understand this picture when you see the outside).
As one of my coworkers said, "Funky looking church."

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