Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Leaf fights and Paper Airplanes

I love that our engagement picture shoot had those 2 things and was such a perfect representation of us as a couple. We weren't dressed up fancy, but we had a blast, and you can tell in the pictures.

I'm sure most of you saw them, but I seriously love them, and it makes it a lot easier to be away from Tom when I have great pictures to look at. But to make it slightly more interesting, here's some pictures from when we first started dating and now. Don't we look grown-up now? I'm not, but he is for sure!

Hoedown 2008. First date party, and first or second date. 
 Apparently I am terrible at remembering relationship information. The only reason I know when we started dating is because it's exactly a month after Tom's birthday. I couldn't tell you when this was, or if we were official by then though. All I know is I was happy, and Tom wasn't too comfortable with being at a sorority party.

Dancing through the Decades 2008.
 I love this picture of us, and I do remember we were official here. Tom was slightly more comfortable with sorority events by then. He's a good sport.

Friend's wedding, 2010.
 We look so grown up! This was about a month before we graduated college, so we'd been together about a year and a half.

Engagement 12/17/10.
 Obviously I remember this date. This was immediately after we walked into our surprise party, and just over 2 years of dating.
Engagement pics, 2011
 Maybe not the best picture of us being grown-up, but it definitely shows our relationship. I'm the crazy one, but at least Tom can laugh and enjoy it. Also, I love leaves in fall. This photo and all the ones after are by InTandem Photography, and they're awesome! I've been wanting Sarah and Adam to take my wedding photos since before we were engaged, so I'm doubly thrilled with the pictures and that they're just as awesome in person as they seemed on their blog!

I love paper airplanes, and obviously Tom does too since he took the time to fold them all. Throwing them means I forget to look pretty and get way too into it, so not all the pictures are gorgeous, but they show how much fun I was having.

 Why yes, Tom throws leaves directly in my face. Isn't that a sign of affection? Let's hope so, because I honestly love the shot. This was definitely not planned. We were just supposed to throw them at each other, and before this, all mine had missed him.

I got him back though, kinda. I think I hugged him and then immediately threw them in his face. It's hard to miss hitting someone when you stand a foot away from them.

Love is all we need
Sorry if this is boring and not interesting, but if I'm gonna document my life on a blog, I need to make sure I include all parts, not just the travel and living in Spain stories.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dia de la Paz

Happy Peace Day!!! I think this is one of my favorite days in Spain. It was started by a teacher on the anniversary of Ghandi's death, and it's a day to talk about what peace is, and how students can work for peace in their school and community.

I got to help out with a sixth grade class as they did some activities before the schoolwide celebration, and it was so much fun. The kids read quotes about peace from people all over the world like John Lennon, Rigoberta Menchu, Ghandi, Tolstoy, Confucius, and Benjamin Franklin, and tons more.   They talked about who the people were, and then we hung all the quotes on the back wall. Then, the kids wrote their own message of peace and we covered a box in our messages. I got to write one too, and the teacher shared her example and mine with the class. It was kinda cool that the teacher really like part of my message and told the kids that it was important. I'll probably never have someone impressed with something I said, so we should always remember this day.

The school-wide celebration was so fun. Everyone, from preschool to sixth graders, was there to participate, and it was the first time for me to see the whole school together. In the states, we'd have big presentations in the gym or the auditorium, but at my school we have a stage outdoors on the patio, so all of our presentations take place outside. Standing in the sun being too hot in my winter coat and listen to kids talk about peace was pretty cool. I'm definitely not in the States. The first and second grades made walls with the juice boxes (bricks) that everyone has. They decorated them with paper and words of peace, and then they put all the walls together in the front of the stage. So cute!

I got to see some of my second, third, fifth and sixth graders present, which was pretty cool. I was like a proud mama. Getting to see my kids on their own, and see them using Spanish, was really fun. Two of my sixth graders were hosting the event, so that was cool to see too. We listened to John Lennon's Imagine in English between presentations, so I was pretty happy to know that song really well. At the end of the presentation, the whole school sang a song about peace. It was in Spanish, but I got a hand out of the words, so even I could sing along. The kids were waving flags, and dancing, and singing, so it was definitely a celebration.

Happy Day of Peace! I hope you think of how you can help work for peace in the world around you!

Monday, January 23, 2012


I just refound this website, and I'm totally inspired. (P.S. Does anyone else do that? Find a cool website, forget to bookmark it and then stumble upon it months later? Or is that just me?) It's so cool that someone my age decided to start doing something to help inner-city kids go to college. I feel passionate about that too, but I feel more passionate about getting them excited to learn and ready to succeed in school as early on as possible.

Also, I can't say the name of her project without wanting to sing the Newsboys' song Shine. Which is a totally cool feeling.

I think it's because I've taken myself out of my country and see our problems in a different light and because I've been blessed with the chance to get a college degree, and live in Europe, and get the chance to figure out what I want to do with my life with minimum nagging on the part of my parents; but now I want to pay it forward. I want to start something that can change the world.

Here's where you come in. Tell me about charities or non-profits that you love. Tell me a problem you see that you wish you could fix. Tell me what you think I can do in OKC to make a difference in the lives of kids. Or, just listen to my dream and help me figure out the steps to make it a reality. I want to start a traveling hands-on science program for kids in elementary school. I've seen that science can sometimes be relegated to a small place in our classrooms, and I feel that the best way to get kids excited about science, and math- because you need math to do cool science, is to give them the chance to do it themselves. It's cool to read a book about volcanoes, but reading a book, building a volcano, watching it "explode" from vinegar and baking soda and then comparing that to videos of real volcanoes is so much more exciting. Why just talk to the kids about the life cycles of plants and butterflies when you could have the living things in your classroom? I feel so strongly about this, and if I could create this job tomorrow, I totally would.

I know that a dream like that takes time, money, education, materials, volunteers and tons of other things. So while I'm refining and clarifying, what can I do when I get back from Spain? I plan on getting involved with my church's volunteer efforts again, and Tom and I are discussing working with the Lego Robotics programs in schools, and I want to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, but what else is there? Preferably something where I can physically do something. I'm not very good with words, but I'm great with actions.

Also, I know there is a ton of need in the rest of the world. I've seen it here, and in Mexico, and Peru. I know people who travel to places I've never dreamed of to help those I'll never meet. And I support them as best I can, and I plan on traveling later on, but that's not where I feel called right now. So be nice and don't tell me things that aren't encouraging. But feel free to tell me about those people and groups too. I can always start praying for them :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Life Goals

I've been talking about checking things off my life list, but I've never actually written my "life list" down on paper. In the spirit of being accountable to myself, I figured I'd start one, and update it when I have a new goal, or accomplish a goal. These are in no particular order, just what comes to mind.

  • Swim with dolphins
  • Get my Master's degree in Museum Studies/Museum Education
  • Feed a penguin
  • See the Anne Frank House
  • See King Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings
  • Visit every single state
  • Travel to every continent, including Antarctica
  • Learn to surf
  • Meet The Pioneer Woman
  • Cook a complete holiday dinner for more than 4 people
  • Travel to Israel
  • Rescue a dog from a shelter
  • Meet the cast of Psych
  • Take a cruise on the Mediterranean
  • Learn to speak another language
  • Go to Paris
  • Get married to Tom!
  • Move to a new state
  • Get my own classroom
  • Have kids
  • Visit every continent
  • Become a great baker
  • Spend an entire day watching all the Harry Potter movies
  • Work in a science museum full-time

Friday, January 20, 2012

Almeria Tourism Video

Hey look! A video about my province! I live 30 minutes outside the capital Almeria, so I've been to the Alcazaba (the big castle the video shows at the beginning) plus some of the other places. The Castilla in Roquetas de Mar is there, plus a beach I think I've been to.

Here:s pictures of me in the places!

Well, I took this picture...but I didn't take any of me with it.

San Jose beach on Halloween

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scenes from my week

6th grade English: The entire class groaned when I gave them homework, and proceded to beg for me to not assign it in 2 languages. At least they were practicing English!

1st grade art: (all in Spanish)
Juan: Maestra, you're pretty!
Carlos: Maestra, you're very pretty!
Maria: You're very good!
There's only so many times I can hear this without laughing. They're so earnest about it all. I do say thank you in English every time though :)

3rd grade class:
Student to another: That's the music teacher!!!
I'm telling you- I'm learning what celebrities feel like, and it's hilarious. I had half of the class in gym yelling hello to me as I walked by. I love that they feel like they can talk to me whenever they see me.

1st grade art:
Whole class chanting "Becca, Becca, Becca!" when I walk into the room.
Again with the rockstar feeling. Can this happen at my wedding?

6th grade science:
Maria Carmen: Maestra, where's our project?
Me: Don't worry, we don't have one today.
Maria Carmen: But Maestra, we ALWAYS have a project at the end of a unit.
Me: .....But today we don't.
Apparently, I completely rocked her world by starting a new lesson. And she was VERY concerned that I didn't assign a project.

First Grade:
Maria: Maestra, I have a boyfriend!
Me: Really?
Maria: Yeah, it's Antonio, but he doesn't want to be.
*Antonio is hiding behind his hands*

6th grade English:
Me: Agata, it's your turn to read.
*Agata shakes her head repeatedly*
Me: Yes, you're reading.
*Agata reads perfectly.*
And that is why I asked her to read. I knew she could do it.

6th grade English:
Me: You guys did a great job reading! I'm proud of you and how well you pronounced words!
*blank stares*
Boy: What?
Me: Buen trabajo! *thumbs up* Good job!
Class: Oooooh.
Maybe we should work on comprehension now....

It was a good week. I led 6th grade science and English classes for a teacher who was out all week, so that was a good learning experience. I like my 6th graders, but I do NOT have a desire to teach them all the time. I'd like them in small doses, and in small groups. I could spend all day with my first and second graders though. They're so much fun, especially my first graders. I love talking to them and getting to know them. I really just like getting to know all my kids. I think it's fun to make them smile just by waving or saying hi to them in the hallways.


That's one of the words that people keep telling me when they hear about me going to Spain, or staying here for a year. I appreciate hearing it, but I honestly don't feel brave sometimes. I guess I tend to only talk about the positive things, and I gloss over the stuff I'm nervous, worried, or terrified of.

So, in the spirit of being honest, here's what I used to worry about and still do. Since most of my fears were completely ridiculous, I'll make sure you know that too. Don't worry, I'll end on a positive note! (It's hard not to when your job is to work with adorable kids.)

I was absolutely terrified I wouldn't make real friends. I knew I'd be friends with people, but I was worried that I wouldn't find people who really got me. How crazy is that? Especially now that I have mi familia, and some amazing soul mates.
Cass Cass. Texas girls stick together.

Jess. Who else will sing show tunes with me?

Lauren and Leah. They make me smile and always good to talk to.
I need to get pictures of all the Roquetas girls together. We're hilarious when we're all hanging out. I love them all!

I was also terrified that I'd be unwelcome at my school and that I would hate my classes, or wouldn't be able to make a place for myself in the school. Thankfully, I was so, so, SO wrong about that. I feel like I belong here. That I am in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. I've had one day where I came home wanting to cry, but after realizing there wasn't really anything I could do to fix that situation, I've had awesome days at work. (And now the situation is resolved, and it makes things so much better!) I love getting to know the kids. I love seeing how excited they are when they wave to me, or say hi, or even just get a smile from me. I also love how excited I get when I hear them trying to speak in English. I try to share that excitement all the time, even though sometimes they don't get it.

I am thankful that I am here, but I am also thankful that I have a plan for when I go back to the States. I love my job, and the teachers, and I know I am being prepared for my future class in the States. Because if you can convince a group of 6th graders that they're going to get homework no matter what, and explain it in 2 languages AND answer questions about it the next day, you must be doing something right.

Monday, January 16, 2012

When I grow up, I want to be a ....

elementary classroom teacher, hopefully with a focus on ESL!

When I came to Spain, my biggest hope was that I'd know what I want to do when I go back to the States. Most of my family and friends who knew about the trip knew that my goal was to become bilingual, and I'm not sure how that will go. (grammar is my downfall, but I'm learning a ton, and getting better, so keep hoping!) What I didn't tell anyone was that I was hoping this year would show me if I could really be a teacher. After graduating with an education degree, I was incredibly frustrated with teaching in traditional classrooms. I absolutely adore my summer camp teaching job, but even then, I worried that I was only good at it because it was summer camp. I loved teaching preschool too, but I knew that it wasn't a option for me to continue at that school since I'll be moving to Oklahoma. Basically, I doubted my ability to teach in a traditional classroom, and the doubt was eating away at my desire to be a teacher.

Thankfully, Spain has basically shown me how much I desire to be a teacher. I want my own classroom of students. I want to get to know them, make connections, help them grow, and learn how to best teach them. I want to help students who don't have the easiest time. I want to teach. Even if I am not bilingual, I want to teach ESL in elementary school. I would love to have kindergarten or first grade, so that I could help them catch up to "normal" students and see them succeed. Having felt the isolation that comes when you can't understand what's being said around you, it gives me new empathy for ESL students. I don't want them to feel alone. I want to be on their side, and be there to help them learn and grow.

I read this article, and it was so exciting for me to see the thoughts that I've had written by someone who is much more informed and much better at writing than I am. I think the idea of TFA is great, and I think most people who do it have the best intentions, but I don't think that it's how we'll "fix" education in the States. But here's the thing- I have thoughts and ideas about how to fix it. My greatest passion is to make science and math fun and interesting for students. I can be part of the solution. I don't need TFA to do that. I've been prepared to change the future, and now I am finally ready to accept that mission.

This is a long way of saying that I want to teach elementary school in low-SES or urban areas and work with the students that are usually written off by society. I don't care if it means I work more hours for less pay. I would rather make a difference in someone's life then make it rich. I know that I'm choosing a hard road, but I think that it will pay off in the end. I was talking to Tom about being the lead teacher for my 6th graders in English and bilingual science today, and in the conversation I said something that is totally powerful for me, since I tend to believe that I need to always be a perfect teacher:

"it may not be perfect, but its the best i can do"

Exactly! It only took me 2 years to come to this realization on my own. I know that I am not by any means done learning about teaching, but I finally feel ready to begin my journey as a teacher. I can't wait to see where I get to go with this. I've got a dream school that I'm hoping for, so if I could get a job there, I'd take any grade level, but I'd love pre-k to first grade. Those kids just make me smile.

And for those of you wondering, I still do have a desire to pursue a Master's degree in Museum Education or Museum Studies. But that's going to take some time, and until then, I want to be the very best teacher I can be. And when I have that degree, I want the same thing, only with a slightly different setting. Can't wait to get started with it all!