Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Village of 100 people

Some of you may have already read this, but it gives good perspective.

In the world today, more than 6 billion people live. If this world were shrunk to the size of a village on 100 people, what would it look like?

59 would be Asian
14 would be American (North, Central and South)
14 would be African
12 would be European
1 would be from the South Pacific

50 would be women, 50 would be men
30 would be children, 70 would be adults.
70 would be nonwhite, 30 would be white
90 would be heterosexual, 10 would be homosexual

33 would be Christians
21 would be Moslems
15 would be Hindus
6 would be Buddhists
5 would be Animists
6 would believe in other religions
14 would be without any religion or atheist.

15 would speak Chinese, Mandarin
7 English
6 Hindi
6 Spanish
5 Russian
4 Arabic
3 Bengali
3 Portuguese
The other would speak Indonesian, Japanese,
German, French, or some other language.

In such a village with so many sorts of folks, it would be very important to learn to understand people different from yourself and to accept others as they are. Of the 100 people in this village:

20 are underonurished
1 is dying of starvation, while 15 are overweight.
Of the wealth in this village, 6 people own 59% (all of them from the United States), 74 people own 39%, and 20 people share the remaining 2%.
Of the energy of this village, 20 people consume 80%, and 80 people share the remaining 20%.
20 have no clean, safe water to drink.
56 have access to sanitation
15 adults are illiterate.
1 has an university degree.
7 have computers.

In one year, 1 person in the village will die, but in the same year, 2 babies will be born, so that at the year's end the number of villagers will be 101.

If you do not live in fear of death by bombardment, armed attack, landmines, or of rape or kidnapping by armed groups, then you are more fortunate than 20, who do.

If you can speak and act according to your faith and your conscience without harassment, imprisonment, torture or death, then you are more fortunate than 48, who can not.

If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet and spare change somewhere around the house, then you are among the richest 8.

If you can read this message, that means you are probably lucky!

(The statistics were derived from Donella Meadows "State of the Village Report" first published in 1990)

This shows how much money we have, and how we take for granted what we have.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rude Awakening

This was the new sign on the "in" sign of the parking lot at school. I noticed today they also added one to the door.

Kind of puts things into perspective.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

From the Mouths of Babes

I have realized this first year of teaching, that kids love to ask questions. Some of them get annoying, like when one person asks to go to the bathroom, and everyone else things that sounds like a good idea, so they all ask. So, here are some of the most commonly asked questions, and some of the funniest that I have answered this year.

These ones I probably answer daily:

"Can I use the restroom?"
"Can I get a drink?"
"Can I take my Hot Cheetos to lunch?"
"Can I take the football out for recess?"
"When do I get to use the computer?"
"Can I sharpen a pencil?"
"Can I borrow your pencil?"
"Is it time for lunch yet?"
"Do we have PE today?"

These ones are once in a lifetime questions, most of which made me smile!

"You know how there is a people God, is there a dog God?" (I should have said "Yes, it is dogma.")

"Don't you do anything fun?" (Apparently my life is incredibly boring to an 8 year old.)

"When will you get another boyfriend?" (I think the asker of this question was worried about me!)

"Why didn't you dump him first?" (No Comment)

"Why don't you wear any makeup?" (I actually do, so the fact that it isn't obvious to a kid tells me I am wearing just enough. I remember how I used to put makeup on when I was little. Crazy!)

"When you were in (long pause) Miscunsin?" (I talk about both Minnesota and Wisconsin since I grew up in one, and went to school in the other. I guess this might be a bit of a tough concept to grasp.)

"Can I have another cupcake?" (Ha. No. This was after our valentines party.)

"How come your clothes are always clean?" (A good lesson on personal hygiene. And the fact that I don't roll around in dirt on a regular basis.)

Here is also one of my favorite scenarios, that probably occurs on a daily basis, if not twice a day.

Student approaches me.

"I lost my pencil."

I look at student.

"Well (insert student's name), I didn't take it."

Student stares at me.

I stare back.

"Would you like to know what other second graders have done when they have lost a pencil?"

Student nods.

I reply.

"Well, some second graders ask me to borrow a pencil, and some second graders ask a friend to borrow a pencil."

At this point in the conversation, all the busybodied students in my class get out an extra pencil and start to offer it to the victim of the tragic pencil loss.

Students stares at me and stares at them.

"Everybody, just wait. (Student's name) is going to ask to borrow a pencil from someone. Keep doing your work."

Student stares at me some more.

I stare back, working to keep a straight face.

"Do either of those sound like good ideas to you?"

Student nods.

I continue staring. If I stare for more than a minute, I go back to my work while the pencil-less student still stands there. Usually a minute or so later I hear a soft voice.

"Can I borrow a pencil?"

I smile.

"Of course!"

Monday, February 19, 2007

This is the day...

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

For some reason today I woke up with this line running through my head. It has been forever and half since I have sung this song, (in English or Czech), but I kept hearing it in my head. A great reminder that everyday is made by God, and should be celebrated.

Today is Presidents Day, so I get to really enjoy an extra weekend day. I hadn't planned on doing anything spectacular, maybe some reading, a little planning and cleaning at home. I decided to go to Starbucks to do my planning, because I find it faster to do when I am not around distractions like TV or the computer. Okay, or maybe I just wanted some coffee. Why is it that coffee shop coffee seems better than what I make here???

It was, and still is a beautiful day. Sun shining with a high of 60. Considering I am now a little ready for spring, this made my day. A little while into planning, I got a call from my friend Rachel, and we decided to meet for lunch. It was such a blessing to meet her and spend time chatting about life, each other and just being able to know each other a little better. God has blessed me with good friends, both old and new.

I just came home and turned off my heat and opened all my windows. It is warmer outside than in my apartment anyway, and the fresh air is just great to breathe in! I think I'll have to go on a walk later, it is just too nice, and it is supposed to be like this all week! I will definitely have to take my kids out for extra recces this week, considering they've been cooped up for two months with no outdoor reccess.

In whatever you do today, remember to rejoice and be glad in it. Each day is such a blessing, and I am thankful for the renewed perspective that I gained through the ordinary today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentines Drama

I am at home, recovering from my first ever Valentines as a teacher. You might say "but it is not Valentines". Oh, right. Well due to meetings all afternoon long tomorrow (the 14th) my team and I have made Valentines a two day holiday this year, much to my regret now.

No, it really isn't that bad, and it was fun for me. Having been homeschooled during Elementary school, I haven't been able to experience the sheer thrill that come from making my box (or in my class envelope) for my valentines and watching it fill, or the anticipation of the fabulous Valentines Feast.

Yes, I said feast. Let me break it down for you. 5 students brought 25 cupcakes. I have 21 students in my class. That is 125 cupcakes total. All full size, no mini cupcakes for us, we party in style. I just did the math, that is 5.95 cupcakes each. Let's add to that an envelope full of Valentine candy, cookies, popcorn, Kool-Aid, and cake. Yes, cake. Essentially all that we had was straight sugar. Maybe next year I'll forgo sending home notes to bring a treat, and we'll all just bring a pound of sugar and eat it straight from the bag with a spoon.

I let each students (against my better judgement) have cake, 2 cupcakes, Kool-Aid, popcorn and a cookie. They had to take their candy home, and ask their parents if they can eat it. They also each took a cupcake home. I gave the 5th graders I tutor after school each a cupcake, as well as the mother and little brother that were helping in my class have anything they desired. I still have 30 cupcakes sitting in my room, and I don't even like cupcakes. I think I'll take them to our staff dessert buffet tomorrow.

I'll admit, it was fun. And being a teacher on Valentines isn't half bad. I brought home two stuffed bears and 4 boxes of chocolate. Whew, that will last me a while!

So, with all this said, Happy Valentines! And don't forget to eat a cupcake.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fraction Fruit Salad

We made "Fraction Fruit Salad" today at school. Teaching fractions in 2nd grade is tough!!! So, I made fraction fruit salad with fruit. It really wasn't a salad at all, I just cut up fruit into chunks, we figured out the fractions and then we ate! It was interesting, no complaints from anyone, and all the yummy fruit was devoured. That is why I love these kids, thankful for anything and excited about everything.

Here's the recipe in case you want to try it:
1/2 orange
1/3 banana
2/8 apple


Saturday, February 03, 2007


My kids have a way of putting my life into perspective. The last few weeks have been really hard on me emotionally, and without boring everyone with all the details I am just going to say that my kids have forced me to be stable, which has made me get up, deal with everything and keep going.

I have them do journals maybe once or twice a week. I try to think of a topic that is really simple, and that they all can relate to so that they can just get a lot of practice writing, and not worrying so much about structure, spelling etc. I just want to teach them to get their thoughts out on paper. As I was grading the two that they did this week, I was once again thrown back into reality of how blessed I am.

The first journal topic was on the 100th day of school, and I had the students write about what they would do with $100. Most of them were very funny, these kids really think $100 is more like $100,000, so they wanted to buy houses, cars, go on vacations and things like that. One of my students wrote this: "If I had $100 I would be rich, and I don't want to be rich, I just want to be an ordinary kid. So if I had $100 I would give the money to poor people who don't have enough food or clothes so they could be warm, and I would keep doing this until I had $1 left, and I would keep that for myself."

Wow. I pay $100 a month to have a phone, cable TV and internet in my apartment.

The second journal that stood out was when I had the students write about what they would do if they found a magic wand. My little gem whose mother passed away tragically last summer wrote: "If I found a magic wand I would get a big bed to sleep in, and have a mom and dad."

I was floored. I sat at my desk with tears falling down my face only trying to imagine the pain that she feels daily as she faces the world at 7 without her mother. I know children are resilient, and that she will succeed despite this, because she possesses amazing strength. I never thought I would look up to a child, but with her, I truly do.

I think what amazed me most about these two journals was how they truly show what is important in life. These kids are living in extreme poverty, sometimes with 2 or 3 families sharing one house. They might be hungry or cold at home, and for many school provides their most stable environment, but yet they know what really matters. Taking care of those who are less fortunate and family, among other things. I pray that I will be able to keep these perspectives as I continue to go forward in my life.