Friday, June 29, 2007

Lithuania is getting closer all the time

Somebody from the college e-mailed telling us our address and describing our apartment. That makes the whole trip seem more palpably real. I have no idea what our neighborhood is like (though have looked at the google map--I like to click on the "satellite" view-- and google earth satelitte photos), but an address and a general location in the city allows me to conjure up all sorts of ideas, based, obviously on my previous experiences of foreign countries--our arrangements in Klaipeda have a strangely Hungarian, Chinese, and Kazakh feel to them.

Klaipeda is on the Baltic Sea (to the far left of Lithuania), not far from Kaliningrad (just south of Klaipeda on the same map), the Russian exclave sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland. Kaliningrad is among Europe's most desperate cities, especially by the comparison to the lifestyles in its immediate neighborhood. And for some reason, I'd like to go. I hope it's not for voyeurism ("Wow, look at how bad off they are. Let's go back now."), or to recapture some sense of the "bizarre" from my Hungary trip 20 years ago ("Yeah, this is bad just like when they were communists. Let's go back now.")

We also want to try to get to Minsk--part of Sandy's family hails from that area.

Well, we'll keep you posted on all that develops in the next month.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

8 Days Left

Well, in 8 more days we'll be on our way. Yesterday, I completed year 1 of 8th grade Language Arts. Overall, not a bad year. I still have some adjustments to make, and some things I want to add (and a few I'll subtract), but things went reasonably well.

Adults mark our 8th graders' progress by how many pass the WASL--we'll find that out in the fall. The 8th graders seem to mark our progress by how well we adults relate to them. On that count, I had some successes, and a few failures, too. The "relational" highlight (read, what the kids enjoyed most with me) was the bargain we had about my beard. After a week or so of verbal wrangling, letter writing, proclamation declaring, and decree announcing (I did this back and forth with one class of kids; they did their part with the social studies teacher's encouragement), we came to an agreement--for two weeks of "improved" behavior, I would shave my beard. They did it, so I did class. Everyone had a good time, and, fortunately, my beard grew back in about 10 days.

I hope the Lithuanian students don't all the sudden hanker for me to shave.

As our month progresses, I'll try to update this blog, so you can know what we're doing. Thanks for your prayers, interest, and support.