Friday, September 24, 2010

Alexandria, take two

Last weekend my cooperating teacher, Joan, invited me to join her and Naglaa, another CAC art faculty in Alexandria for the weekend. A girls weekend getaway. On a beach. Yes please!

This trip back to Alex was a little different in that I got to see more of the city,

and spend more time exploring it (I went on a fascinating 2 hour walk that night and was able to talk to many locals-some by choice some not so much)...You know me, I love being in and with the people. We went to the library,

the royal jewelry museum, an amazing balady fish resturant,

watched the sunset at the fortress,

drank tons of tea, and stopped at every "authentically" egypt opportunity for food or drink on the way home (extending a 2 hour drive yet again to nearly 5)...

My favorite part of the weekend hands down was the trip to the library. Besides being an absolutely stunning aesthetically pleasing building, full of books, there is a printmaking museum/display of sorts right when you walk in, and there is incredible art. EVERYWHERE.

I even met a french artist working on a collage installation of a huge mural using recycled books to paint a french scene in the lower level of the library----exactly the kind of project im working on with my students in mixed media, I showed them the pictures and they were all awestruck to see what they are doing relate to the world around them in such a direct way...

Fantastic, exhausting, stimulating weekend away :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Of all the days to leave my camera at home...

today was absolutely PACKED with priceless incredible moments as a teacher in Middle School. My mixed media and 6th grade exploratory classes went so. so. well. Group diaglogue, students teaching one another, lightbulbs clicking, discussing global issues spontaneously, connecting art to other subjects... and of course.. the twinkle in my students' eyes.......

It was a very good day for Miss Martens...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Donya Dai'a

...small world...

A conversation with my dear friend Jordan tonight reminded me of how increasingly difficult it is to keep up with two worlds. To keep up with everything happening in Iowa: next to impossible (thank God for facebook for the little I do pick up)... To share with you everything I'm experiencing here in Cairo: really truly impossible. I'll do my best to keep posting highlights...

Ramadan is over, we had an extended holiday weekend in which 90% of Maadi went traveling to beach resorts on the north coast or red sea.. It ended up being a Plan Z weekend for Amy.. Plans kept changing, nothing actually went as planned (nothing that happened was planned, but I think that's a parallel to life too).. I was really feeling frustrated and a tad bit depressed on Thursday going into the weekend thinking I'd be alone.. all of my friends were traveling away (and had left while I was teaching already) or were with their families. Not only was I going to miss them, but I was missing my family back in the states quite a bit as well and it seemed to rub it in further that I couldn't see them because they were with family which I was without as well... I will admit I was a tad bit grumpy. I didn't want to do the touristy thing and go hit up the Steppe Pyramid and Egyptian Museum as I had thought I might (plan d), I remembered how much I hate feeling like and living like a tourist(doing things for the sake of saying I did them). So I decided I'd spend the weekend doing normal daily life things, and cross my fingers that it involved some local friends.

Turned out to be the best weekend yet. Topped Giza pyramids easily. I spent the Eid night Thursday watching fireworks, drinking shay (tea), and eating some kind of hummus soup on the side of the road on a bridge overlooking the Nile with my friends Hani and Hamad. (slept the entire next day). Went for a 5 hour walk of all of Maadi (I swear I almost reached Luxor). Traveling the back streets all over Cairo- I saw so many people and homes and goats... I heard "welcome to Egypt!" about 3 million times, and was begged to photograph each and every mob of children I encountered. To top off an increasingly enjoyable long weekend, I found my family. My Cairene family. Donya dai'a...they are wonderful people (I will devote an entire blog entry to in the near future)...friends of friends, related to the owners of the Kimo market right around the corner from my flat, art teachers, art students, and connected in any and every bizarre way to other people I've met here in Maadi. They speak enough english to communicate, quite well.. but encourage my desire to learn arabic to where after 3 hours sharing time together in an outdoor cafe saturday night, I believe they have taken it on as their personal mission to help me learn arabic before I leave.

Oh. And I have a standing invite to their home
...on the Nile
...every Friday.
Now this. this feels like home.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Aywa (yes)

Sounds a lot like "Iowa" which makes explaining myself in the little arabic I've learned even more challenging sometimes...

Thursday night marked the end of Ramadan/beginning of the Eid feast holiday. I took Danielle (a new teacher at another school I met last weekend on Road 9) on a walk to show her the lanterns one last time :( and then we ended up back at Hani's shop for some tea. Hani has a store close by my house, and has become a good friend who is teaching me Arabic little by little. He ended up inviting me to come along with Hamad to sit on the bridge over the Nile (which I found is a very popular social gathering place at 1am) where we drank tea, ate Hummus soup (I poured all of the spices into mine to begin to build up a tolerance for the competition Hani says will come some day soon in which we will see who can handle the hottest soup). It was incredibly wonderful weather, there was a strong breeze (my eyes were still dry the next day) and it was actually very peaceful looking out at Dahab Island (when you learned to tune out the noisy traffic 4 feet behind you). We went to Giza after that, where we picked up some furniture to take back to Maadi from Hani's sister. Consequently... I spent my Eid holiday sleeping all day Friday..

Ramadan is over, we have a long weekend for the Eid holiday. I feel entirely purpose-less and stuck in Maadi. Plans A, B, and C were to travel outside of Cairo with friends, but long story short none worked out and since I did not make a plan D, I'm finding myself wasting away the weekend...maybe I'll go back for another Arabic lesson...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

From 6th graders to 6 year olds...

Today I my prep periods with lunch to go shadow and help in the elementary art rooms for the first time. I was able to sit in on KGE and 2W art (kinders and 2nd graders). What a switch. I used to swear I would teach elementary art; through field experiences I have grown to love middle schoolers more and more (and am continuing to here at CAC), but working with these tiny little paint shirt clad students was really a wonderful trip back to raw creativity where water bottles full of neon pink and green are used to splatter paint watermelon backgrounds.

Next thoughts in life: get cracking on that TWS, long holiday weekend for Eid (look for a sad end of Ramadan/end of my favorite lantern filled midan post this weekend), Egyptian Museum and other touristy site to see this weekend, and lots of lots of lesson plan/evaluation writing to get ready for turning in grades next week and preparing for my whirlwind of a month in October...oh. did I mention the real world is rapidly approaching and I need to get my resume in shape and start looking for jobs and applying for overseas recruiting fairs.. oh yeah.. that too........

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weekend once again: il Humdu li-llaah

it's nice. the feeling of a normal life, where it's ok to simply pass the weekend spending time with friends, reading, doing laundry and getting groceries at the market... Just Egypt...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One Month.

Hard to believe a month has already passed since I stepped foot in Cairo.
(I left one month and three days ago, but we won't go back into that now.)

Attempt at a brief recap/what I've learned/am learning:

-How to shop for food (first time without a meal plan or a mom haha)
-Renewed reminder of how much I absolutely love finding myself in a new place-I can be frustrating to be in a place where all I can say is Good Morning, Thanks & orange juice.
-I need to make in-progress demo pieces to show my students (get too caught up in them & finish)
-I've learned what happens when you assume your students know something...
-Eye contact is critical and key.
-It's ok to demand the highest quality of art from 6th graders. It's ok (though it breaks my heart inside) to ask them to start over on a project they work for a week on because you know and believe they can do better. If you demand it, they will answer.
-"Shut up and teach" --the power of silence in instruction....
-Challenge lies in teaching upper class students the importance of recycling and conserving when they have the means to replace and simply buy more (water bottles) every day..
-I must leave Maadi at least once a week or I'll go crazy (still hypothesis at this point)
-librarian=best friend, especially when hes throwing out hundreds of old magazines-I've read the Namesake, The Memory Keepers Daughter, and currently on the Book Thief at the moment, ironically enough after my trip to the library today confiscating old materials
-My favorite pastime is sitting on my balcony with a faint breeze at night, listening and watching children in the streets and reading...-It's a little saddening to live in a beautiful culture that focuses sooo deeply on family and togetherness, and to be so far from my own-to realize I don't really have family here...
-International teaching is definitely one of my callings. Though I don't like going at it alone persay, I do love going at it.......

ps. this is why i'm here: this note was written by a middle school girl who is joining my after school art club, Destination Imagination, to "give me an idea of her interests in art"....."I really like anything about art, normally I do not care what I do in art.. I like horses, even though I do not ride them. My family and me travelled around the world, it was awesome!"