Tag Archives: Teaching English

Everybody Thinks I’m Fijian…and That’s a Good Thing

adventure bornn

*My apologies for the lack of photos on this post. I made my most costly travel error ever when I accidentally dropped my iPhone into a waterfall. I’ll explain more about that on a later post.*

I was meant to arrive on Saturday, but was having such a good time at the Beachouse that I emailed The Green Lion, my project coordinators in Suva, letting them know I would arrive at the bus station at 3:00pm on Sunday instead. No problem.

Kayaking at the Fiji Beachouse
A group of awesome backpackers I hung around with at the Fiji Beachouse.
I also meant to take the express bus on Sunday morning, but instead Ross and his girlfriend Christie (UK) happily offered to drive me in their rental car. They had to go to Suva anyways. On the way there, we stopped in Pacific Harbor to grab some food and use the ATM. I noticed the time was just a little past 3pm, but no worries, Fiji Time. Just like many places I’ve been to (Africa being the one that pops in my head the most) Fiji runs on what they like to call Fiji Time. Which means, everything and everybody is going to be late. Not too late, but a little late. It’s the whole chilled out island mantra of the island and the perfect excuse as to why anyone in Fiji is late for anything. Fiji Time. I could dig it but it can also be annoying at times particularly when waiting on food that I ordered. In this case, Fiji time would work in my favor because I was already almost a half hour late. The coordinators are probably waiting at the bus station wondering where the heck I am. But I wasn’t overly concerned because of Fiji Time.

Once we arrived at the bus station, I just had Ross drop me off in the center of it. The bus station was a lot bigger than I imagined and a lot more hectic too. I said my farewells to Ross and Christie, put on my bags and simply began to walk around looking for any sign of someone looking for me.

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The Suva Bus Station. Courtesy of Fijibus.com
I’ve done this many times before and each time there is always someone around with a sign that either has my name on it, a yellow smiley face, an IVHQ logo sign, or whatever. I looked and looked. No sign. I did several laps around the entirety of the bus station and no sign of anyone looking for me. Oddly, I wasn’t worried.

I had three options:

  1. Keep walking around looking for somebody.
  2. Go into town and sort out purchasing a SIM for my phone to call Green Lion.
  3. It’s Sunday which means I’m probably not the only new volunteer arriving. I can just wait at the terminal for another foreign volunteer to arrive.

I stuck with option one.

They had to be around here somewhere. There’s no way they would leave the bus station with the possibility of a scared little volunteer all by themselves. I wasn’t scared. This was my fault actually. I told them I’d arrive at 3pm. I didn’t even know if buses actually arrived at three. Then on top of that I was late. I had to figure out a way to make myself look known. Other than my big bags I was carrying, I don’t exactly stick out. Since the day I arrived at the Beachouse, I’ve been mistaken for being a Fijian local by tourists and the locals themselves. Many backpackers assumed I worked at the Beachouse and locals were baffled when I started jabbering in my flat American English.

“Oh I thought you were Fijian!” they would say.

adventure bornn
This is a photo of me at a local village near the Beachouse at a kava ceremony. I blend in quite well right?
I blended in so well that a group of locals invited me to take part in a traditional wedding later in the week (more about that later)!

I never once got bored of the confusion. I was happy that I had potential to coast through Fiji without sticking out like a sore thumb. It will prove useful for when locals want to hassle me. It dawned on me that the coordinators are probably around but probably think I’m some local, easily mistakable among the crowds of actual locals venting in and out of the Suva bus station. Time to change my presence.

I purposely began to appear lost and confused. I walked slowly and would pause occasionally on my tiptoes looking past the crowds with a “what the heck is going on” look on my face. I did this all in the area of where I thought the best place the coordinators would be. I paced slowly, alert.

“Excuse me?” said a Fijian man wearing a tropical blue shirt and what looked like a black skirt for men. I glanced at him and raised my eyebrows letting him know he had my attention.

“Are you looking for someone?”

“Yeah, I’m looking for the Green Lion.”

“Oh, are you Daniel??”

“Yup I’m him!”

He and the woman next to him began to laugh.
“We saw you walk by many times but thought you were a Fijian!” they exclaimed.

This would be the new story of my life.

He introduced himself as Junior and the woman as Seini. Both are coordinators from the Green Lion who were scheduled to pick me up…at three!

“The bus showed up but there were no volunteers that came out, so we were confused,” Junior said with a smile.

I explained my situation but it was no matter. They were just happy to have found me and I was relieved I didn’t have to walk around aimlessly with my bags any longer. They led me to a local bus. About 40 minutes would be my new home for the next six weeks filled with a bunch of other volunteers from all around the world.

This is the part where I usually start to wonder what my housemates will be like, but weirdly I didn’t think much about it. I was concentrating on what kind of restaurants were on the way and IF there was a McDonald’s nearby (there was). I was also taken by the funky island music on blast in the bus. Every volunteer experience I’ve done, the volunteers have always been more than amazing, with a handful being good friends of mine to this very day, so I was sure this experience would be the same.

Once the bus dropped us off, we walked to the Green Lion office where I filled out a bunch of paperwork and then directed across the street to my new home.

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I walked in the house and already there were about a dozen volunteers socializing in the outdoor area. I gave a brief hello and a wave and followed Junior down the hall, downstairs to the boys corridor and to my room. In my room were four bunk beds with someone in each of them except for one, which would be mine.

“Hello,” I said with a stupid smile as I plopped down my bag. “How’s it going?”

One of the boys on the bottom bunk was sprawled out on his side with his right hand supporting his head. “You must be Daniel,” he said in a German accent. “I expected you yesterday.”

He was correct. I was supposed to arrive yesterday. But who is this guy? He introduced himself as Johannes (Germany) but for some reason I kept referring to him as Johannesburg. I got the idea from his chattering that he was the guru of the household. He seemed to know everything about Fiji. The other two in the room were also German. Their names were Timo and Julius, my roommates for the next six weeks. All of them young and all of them experiencing their very first volunteer trip or even solo trip ever! How cute. We made brief small talk before I decided to head upstairs to meet the rest of the crew.

It’s always a bit awkward being the new guy, but turns out that most of the volunteers just arrived hours before me and there were still some coming in later. I introduced myself to about a dozen people and didn’t remember a single name upon the first greet. That usually happens. The same questions follow afterwards: Where are you from? How long are you here for? What placement are you in? Sometimes followed up with: Are you travelling anywhere after Fiji? That last question I chose not to reveal fully just yet. I don’t wanna seem like I’m boasting that I’m currently on a two-year quest to the seven continents. So I just simply would say “Probably Australia.” As a matter of fact, I didn’t have a flight booked anywhere outside of Fiji yet. I wasn’t sure how long I would stick around or where in Australia I would go to first. However, in order to enter Fiji, you need to have proof of a flight departing the country. I found that out at the last minute while I was still in New Zealand. So instead of booking a last minute flight out of Fiji on some random date to some random Australian city, I devised a fake itinerary which worked like magic. (I personally don’t advise this, as it is risky. Go with your gut.) Anyways, back to the subject of my volunteering household.

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Among the group of initial greets, a few standouts were a group of college students from Seattle, Ethan- a southerner from North Carolina, Karen – a laid back gal who hails from Seattle, Annika (Germany) and Sara and Leah, two friends from Chicago. We mingled for awhile as other volunteers made their way into the house. A volunteer who has been there for awhile already, Mychaela, lives ten minutes from my mom in Michigan. Look at that! She’s freakin’ hilarious by the way. The last volunteer to stroll in that night introduced himself as Hamish.

“Hamish?” I thought out loud.”What kind of name is that?” It just kinda came out.

“It’s very common actually,” he responded with a grin. He hails from Sydney and this is also his first major solo romp. He sat down next to me and a couple of others I was chatting with and I could already tell from the words coming out of his mouth that this guy is the most Australian Aussie I’ve ever met in my life and I’ve met tons. I thought I’ve heard all the Aussie slang but it was like he spoke an entirely different language. I wasn’t sure at the time if he was toying with me or if this was legit how he speaks. It was legit how he speaks! If anything, his Aussie slang will help prepare me for my pending trip to Australia.


Most of us new volunteers went out the next night to the only bar in town, called Sports Bar. There was nothing sporty about it. Not even a single television. It was kind of a shit hole and we were the only ones there, but still it was a great way to bond with the group I would be spending most of my time with. And no matter how many times I volunteer, no one group is like the other.

IVHQ fiji
The IVHQ Fiji volunteer group.
Soon I will begin my placement at one of the local primary schools nearby. Like every country I’ve taught in, I expected it to be challenging in a good way. A new culture, new ideals, and different languages always present a few hurdles to bound. In a way, it’s like deducing a puzzle. It always takes a few days but I eventually get the hang of it.

One thing for sure is that I always grow fond of the students I teach and I’m sure the ones here in Fiji will be just as fond-worthy.

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Everybody Thinks I'm Fijian…and That's a Good Thing

adventure bornn

*My apologies for the lack of photos on this post. I made my most costly travel error ever when I accidentally dropped my iPhone into a waterfall. I’ll explain more about that on a later post.*

I was meant to arrive on Saturday, but was having such a good time at the Beachouse that I emailed The Green Lion, my project coordinators in Suva, letting them know I would arrive at the bus station at 3:00pm on Sunday instead. No problem.

Kayaking at the Fiji Beachouse
A group of awesome backpackers I hung around with at the Fiji Beachouse.
I also meant to take the express bus on Sunday morning, but instead Ross and his girlfriend Christie (UK) happily offered to drive me in their rental car. They had to go to Suva anyways. On the way there, we stopped in Pacific Harbor to grab some food and use the ATM. I noticed the time was just a little past 3pm, but no worries, Fiji Time. Just like many places I’ve been to (Africa being the one that pops in my head the most) Fiji runs on what they like to call Fiji Time. Which means, everything and everybody is going to be late. Not too late, but a little late. It’s the whole chilled out island mantra of the island and the perfect excuse as to why anyone in Fiji is late for anything. Fiji Time. I could dig it but it can also be annoying at times particularly when waiting on food that I ordered. In this case, Fiji time would work in my favor because I was already almost a half hour late. The coordinators are probably waiting at the bus station wondering where the heck I am. But I wasn’t overly concerned because of Fiji Time.

Once we arrived at the bus station, I just had Ross drop me off in the center of it. The bus station was a lot bigger than I imagined and a lot more hectic too. I said my farewells to Ross and Christie, put on my bags and simply began to walk around looking for any sign of someone looking for me.

suvabusstation_header
The Suva Bus Station. Courtesy of Fijibus.com
I’ve done this many times before and each time there is always someone around with a sign that either has my name on it, a yellow smiley face, an IVHQ logo sign, or whatever. I looked and looked. No sign. I did several laps around the entirety of the bus station and no sign of anyone looking for me. Oddly, I wasn’t worried.

I had three options:

  1. Keep walking around looking for somebody.
  2. Go into town and sort out purchasing a SIM for my phone to call Green Lion.
  3. It’s Sunday which means I’m probably not the only new volunteer arriving. I can just wait at the terminal for another foreign volunteer to arrive.

I stuck with option one.

They had to be around here somewhere. There’s no way they would leave the bus station with the possibility of a scared little volunteer all by themselves. I wasn’t scared. This was my fault actually. I told them I’d arrive at 3pm. I didn’t even know if buses actually arrived at three. Then on top of that I was late. I had to figure out a way to make myself look known. Other than my big bags I was carrying, I don’t exactly stick out. Since the day I arrived at the Beachouse, I’ve been mistaken for being a Fijian local by tourists and the locals themselves. Many backpackers assumed I worked at the Beachouse and locals were baffled when I started jabbering in my flat American English.

“Oh I thought you were Fijian!” they would say.

adventure bornn
This is a photo of me at a local village near the Beachouse at a kava ceremony. I blend in quite well right?
I blended in so well that a group of locals invited me to take part in a traditional wedding later in the week (more about that later)!

I never once got bored of the confusion. I was happy that I had potential to coast through Fiji without sticking out like a sore thumb. It will prove useful for when locals want to hassle me. It dawned on me that the coordinators are probably around but probably think I’m some local, easily mistakable among the crowds of actual locals venting in and out of the Suva bus station. Time to change my presence.

I purposely began to appear lost and confused. I walked slowly and would pause occasionally on my tiptoes looking past the crowds with a “what the heck is going on” look on my face. I did this all in the area of where I thought the best place the coordinators would be. I paced slowly, alert.

“Excuse me?” said a Fijian man wearing a tropical blue shirt and what looked like a black skirt for men. I glanced at him and raised my eyebrows letting him know he had my attention.

“Are you looking for someone?”

“Yeah, I’m looking for the Green Lion.”

“Oh, are you Daniel??”

“Yup I’m him!”

He and the woman next to him began to laugh.
“We saw you walk by many times but thought you were a Fijian!” they exclaimed.

This would be the new story of my life.

He introduced himself as Junior and the woman as Seini. Both are coordinators from the Green Lion who were scheduled to pick me up…at three!

“The bus showed up but there were no volunteers that came out, so we were confused,” Junior said with a smile.

I explained my situation but it was no matter. They were just happy to have found me and I was relieved I didn’t have to walk around aimlessly with my bags any longer. They led me to a local bus. About 40 minutes would be my new home for the next six weeks filled with a bunch of other volunteers from all around the world.

This is the part where I usually start to wonder what my housemates will be like, but weirdly I didn’t think much about it. I was concentrating on what kind of restaurants were on the way and IF there was a McDonald’s nearby (there was). I was also taken by the funky island music on blast in the bus. Every volunteer experience I’ve done, the volunteers have always been more than amazing, with a handful being good friends of mine to this very day, so I was sure this experience would be the same.

Once the bus dropped us off, we walked to the Green Lion office where I filled out a bunch of paperwork and then directed across the street to my new home.

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I walked in the house and already there were about a dozen volunteers socializing in the outdoor area. I gave a brief hello and a wave and followed Junior down the hall, downstairs to the boys corridor and to my room. In my room were four bunk beds with someone in each of them except for one, which would be mine.

“Hello,” I said with a stupid smile as I plopped down my bag. “How’s it going?”

One of the boys on the bottom bunk was sprawled out on his side with his right hand supporting his head. “You must be Daniel,” he said in a German accent. “I expected you yesterday.”

He was correct. I was supposed to arrive yesterday. But who is this guy? He introduced himself as Johannes (Germany) but for some reason I kept referring to him as Johannesburg. I got the idea from his chattering that he was the guru of the household. He seemed to know everything about Fiji. The other two in the room were also German. Their names were Timo and Julius, my roommates for the next six weeks. All of them young and all of them experiencing their very first volunteer trip or even solo trip ever! How cute. We made brief small talk before I decided to head upstairs to meet the rest of the crew.

It’s always a bit awkward being the new guy, but turns out that most of the volunteers just arrived hours before me and there were still some coming in later. I introduced myself to about a dozen people and didn’t remember a single name upon the first greet. That usually happens. The same questions follow afterwards: Where are you from? How long are you here for? What placement are you in? Sometimes followed up with: Are you travelling anywhere after Fiji? That last question I chose not to reveal fully just yet. I don’t wanna seem like I’m boasting that I’m currently on a two-year quest to the seven continents. So I just simply would say “Probably Australia.” As a matter of fact, I didn’t have a flight booked anywhere outside of Fiji yet. I wasn’t sure how long I would stick around or where in Australia I would go to first. However, in order to enter Fiji, you need to have proof of a flight departing the country. I found that out at the last minute while I was still in New Zealand. So instead of booking a last minute flight out of Fiji on some random date to some random Australian city, I devised a fake itinerary which worked like magic. (I personally don’t advise this, as it is risky. Go with your gut.) Anyways, back to the subject of my volunteering household.

fullsizerender-3

Among the group of initial greets, a few standouts were a group of college students from Seattle, Ethan- a southerner from North Carolina, Karen – a laid back gal who hails from Seattle, Annika (Germany) and Sara and Leah, two friends from Chicago. We mingled for awhile as other volunteers made their way into the house. A volunteer who has been there for awhile already, Mychaela, lives ten minutes from my mom in Michigan. Look at that! She’s freakin’ hilarious by the way. The last volunteer to stroll in that night introduced himself as Hamish.

“Hamish?” I thought out loud.”What kind of name is that?” It just kinda came out.

“It’s very common actually,” he responded with a grin. He hails from Sydney and this is also his first major solo romp. He sat down next to me and a couple of others I was chatting with and I could already tell from the words coming out of his mouth that this guy is the most Australian Aussie I’ve ever met in my life and I’ve met tons. I thought I’ve heard all the Aussie slang but it was like he spoke an entirely different language. I wasn’t sure at the time if he was toying with me or if this was legit how he speaks. It was legit how he speaks! If anything, his Aussie slang will help prepare me for my pending trip to Australia.


Most of us new volunteers went out the next night to the only bar in town, called Sports Bar. There was nothing sporty about it. Not even a single television. It was kind of a shit hole and we were the only ones there, but still it was a great way to bond with the group I would be spending most of my time with. And no matter how many times I volunteer, no one group is like the other.

IVHQ fiji
The IVHQ Fiji volunteer group.
Soon I will begin my placement at one of the local primary schools nearby. Like every country I’ve taught in, I expected it to be challenging in a good way. A new culture, new ideals, and different languages always present a few hurdles to bound. In a way, it’s like deducing a puzzle. It always takes a few days but I eventually get the hang of it.

One thing for sure is that I always grow fond of the students I teach and I’m sure the ones here in Fiji will be just as fond-worthy.

Teacher from Outer Space

Sometimes strangers from strange places come into your life and change it forever. For this group of young Guatemalans, I was that stranger who came into their lives from out of nowhere.

When I arrived in Guatemala back in December, Roxy and I were the very first teachers of a new after-school English teaching program. We were thrown into the trenches of a mix of different locals, some with excellent English but most with little to none. Now, six weeks later, my very short stint was coming to an end and I’ve grown completely attached to all my youngin’s.

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The past couple of weeks at the school, new volunteer teachers have been introduced. I’ve had full reigns of every class prior but had to give up some classes to the new guys. Since then, I’ve become something like a principal of the school. I assigned each student to their permanent classes, observed the other teachers to make sure they were teaching properly, and handled any problems associated with attendance and classroom structure. Principal Sellers at his finest!

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For my last day at the school, I wanted to take a break from teaching and put together a fun time for everyone. It was also Ben’s last day, so he and I took the chicken bus to Alotenango early and loaded up on sweets and treats. We bought two piñatas for the younger classes and filled them with an assortment of colorful candies.

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Soon the students began to arrive, knowing full well that it was my, Ben, and Luke’s last day with them. “No class today!”I told them much to their delight. We spent all afternoon with music, snacks, photos, and ultimately piñatas.

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The oldest class arrived later. I’ve kept them as my own class since the very beginning and got them used to a weekly structure of new material. Each of them improved quite a bit since. I didn’t have a piñata for them, but instead we played games involving lots of candy, cookies, and cans of cokes as rewards.

The older class. I kept them since the very beginning.
The older class. I kept them since the very beginning.

I laid down the foundation for future volunteers to follow. A couple of the newer teachers have been spending the past few classes observing me and my methods. Hopefully everything Roxy and I started on the first day will trickle through from here on out: to learn English, but to have fun doing it!

Just like every time I say goodbye to my students in whatever country I’m in, it’s mighty tough. I did what I needed to do here and once that goal was accomplished, it meant that it was time to me to move on and meet others who need a little inspiration from this stranger from a strange land.

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I only have a few more days left in Guatemala before I set my eyes on the next phase of this global journey. With me, I’m taking all the good memories that came from this school and adding it to my plethora of memories from my teaching experiences all around the world.

I’ll have some information to reveal later as far as to what the next phase of this worldwide adventure has from me.

And when I tell you, you’ll think that I’m absolutely insane!

The One

The whole volleyball tournament I put together for the students was a lie. I already knew which team was going to get the prize before I even established the teams. I knew from the very beginning that every team that participated was going to “win”. The tourney was just a giant ruse I used as an excuse to pump some much needed athletic competition into this school. I didn’t tell them that though. I wanted them to play to win. And after it was all said and done, I’d say it was a big success. The rivalries ran rampant between the older classes during the days where we didn’t play.

I also knew from the very beginning that I wanted to do something special for these kids. Volunteer teachers come and go here, but I wanted to make sure that I stood out. I wanted to be that one teacher, the students would never forget. Previous volunteer teachers have given to the school itself: a new computer, painted walls, even a new classroom. I donated money to the school to help setup a Wi-Fi connection, but that’s something I fear the students won’t even get any use out of at all. It’s mainly for the teachers–and what they will do with that is beyond me. So instead of donating something else to the school, I wanted to do something directly for the students. These students who go to school six days out of the week and spend a good chunk of their time at home doing homework and village chores. I wanted them to be a kid for a moment. And I thought throwing them a giant party they would never forget would do the trick.

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I told Zahra all about the idea to throw a giant picnic/feast/party for the kids and she thought it was a great idea and thankfully I had her to help me set this up. We went down to the city center of Pokhara and to the supermarket. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for exactly but I had an idea. I knew I was going to purchase a lot so I emptied both my big and small backpacks and brought it with me to fill up. There were exactly 50 students who “won” the prize and that’s a whole lot of mouths to feed. The party isn’t for a few days still so I couldn’t buy anything cold because refrigerators don’t exist in the village. It would all have to be dry food. This was going to be harder than I imagined.

After a couple hours in the supermarket, I wound up with six 2.5 liters of party size pepsi bottles, 10 loaves of white bread, 4 jars of peanut butter, 4 jars of jam, 60 paper cups, 3 giant bags of chips, 2 tins full of cookies, a giant sack full of assorted sweets, and three cans of chicken sausages. It was a lot of stuff, but I still needed more! I went upstairs to the toy department looking for something I can explode in the air. Low and behold, there were bottles of silly string, canisters of snow spray and tubes of confetti and rose petals that burst in the air when you twisted them. I bought it all! The kids would love it!

The hardest part was lugging everything back up to the village. My bags were filled and super heavy. We also had to be careful not to squish the bread and not to crush the chips. We spent the evening before the party making 50 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. We took that and the rest of the supplies up to the school the next morning.

Zahra and I hard at work!
Zahra and I hard at work!

I asked grades 7, 8, and 9 to come down the terrace fields near the school as soon as seventh period starts. I found the perfect spot for the picnic party, along the bottom of a series of terraces, overlooking this portion of the mountain and Fewa Lake down below. The scenery was great, the weather was warm, and the sky was cloudless. I don’t think I could have found a better spot nearby. During sixth period, Zarah and I took all of our supplies down to the terrace and started to setup. We found a large rock that had a flat top that we used as our table to pour all the drinks.

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Soon, we saw the students starting to make their way down to us, carrying the large speaker box the school uses every morning for their national anthem. I asked the students to bring it down to play music.

The students making their way down the terraces.
The students making their way down the terraces.

We handed each student a cup of pepsi and a sandwich. We had plenty of pop to spare for seconds and even thirds. I handed out a bag of chips to each grade and tossed the cookies to the crowd, along with the chicken sausages. After eating, I gathered all the students in a large group around, played the music which was upbeat club music the kids here listened to, and twisted some of the party tubes I bought until confetti exploded in the air and danced all around them. They really loved that!

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As the music played, I handed Zahra one of my many bottles of silly string and told her “Do with this as you want!” Or in other words, spray the living $h!% out of the kids! As some were still eating or drinking or dancing, Zahra and I ran around the students and sprayed them all over the place in which they screamed like giddy little kids. The good kind of screams. Many of them wanted to try and spray for themselves but I knew they would try and spray me if I did that.

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I also had bottles that sprayed “snow” in the air. I lifted up two bottles, pointed them into the sky, and let em rip!

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Out came streams and clumps of white stuff which looked like soap suds. The kids really loved this part. They’ve never seen anything like it before!

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After several minutes when the suds began to disappear, I stood on a platform with a sack full of candy and gathered all the students around.

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I reached into the sack and pulled out a handful of sweets, chocolates, gums, and fruit flavored candies much to the kids amazement. I threw it up into the air over the crowd of school uniforms. They rose their hands in the air as if they were going to catch some! None of them did.

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The candy fell all around them and as it happened, the kids buckled down to the ground, pushing, shoving towards the sugary treats. As they did that, I threw more and more candies into the air, in different spots. The kids were scattered all over the place, scrambling and lunging over the grass. I’m not sure who got how many of what, but I do know that everyone got something. I had bought a whole lot of candy to ensure everyone got something.

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After the candy fest, I filled up the kids with more pop and started smearing extra peanut butter on their faces. That quickly backfired when they would smear it back onto my face! I smelled like peanut butter for the rest of the day, but all in good fun. We turned up the music louder and now that everyone was sugared up and in party mode, more dancing began within the girls while the boys played makeshift soccer with the empty cookie tins.

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Everything was gone. All the drinks, the food, the sprays, the sweets, the explosives, all gone which was meant there was nothing to carry back up! I managed to gather all the students out for a giant group photo. These guys are great!

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Time flew by and before we knew it, we heard the cowbell ring. School has been dismissed but these kids wanted to continue dancing among the terrace. As they did, rows of tiny school children looked on from way above. I felt a little bad that the rest of the students couldn’t experience this, but this wasn’t cheap! I could only manage to handle the older classes that I knew the best. Mina looked on and waved us to comeback. I think she needed the speaker back to lock up in the office. We all climbed back up the terraces. Zarah and I had large bags of trash in our hands going up the whole way while a group of students lugged up the heavy speaker.

The students told me how much fun they had and thanked me for such a great time. They haven’t been able to do something like that before.

“You all deserved it,” I told them.

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Mission accomplished.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Stranger

My identity has been mistaken many times around the world. My old students in Vietnam thought I was an NBA basketball player. Locals in Morocco always thought I was a Moroccan. Too many countries actually thought I was Obama or that I was related to him. But never before have I been mistaken for a Power Ranger until I came to Pokhara, Nepal. This is probably my favorite mistake the world has made.

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The kids at the school I teach are quite the characters. The positive attention I get from them is enormous and I’m bound to catch some sort of illness from the fact that they each want to shake my hand 27 times per day, especially the littler ones who always have dripping wet hands and snot oozing obliviously from their nostrils. One morning, a kid from a younger class walked up next to me and simply asked,

“Are you a Power Ranger?”

I laughed. That’s the best compliment I’ve ever received!

“Yes,” I responded with a smirk. “Yes, I am.”

The kid proceeded to tell his nearby friend that I was a Power Ranger and later on, word spread that a Power Ranger was in their school. I didn’t even know Power IMG_6593Rangers was still relevant anymore. That show premiered way, way back when I was their age; about two decades ago! Perhaps I looked like one of the actors from the more recent versions of the show. It began to stick. That and the fact that Tim and Emre have told all the students that I had five wives at home. I was a Power Ranger with five wives. I never told a kid which color ranger I was though. It’s a mystery, even to me.

It was the beginning of a typical new school day and just like every morning here, the students perform their morning ritual and then head to their first of eight classes per day.

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I’ve been with the English and Social Studies teacher for a few days now and it’s been working out great! A lot better than my first day with the math classes. The Social Studies classes so far have been my favorite to teach. These certain classes have an emphasis on geography and the different regions, cultures, languages, etc associated with them. Who better to teach that around here than me? For the English classes, I teach alongside the teacher because apparently some things have changed since I was in elementary school. Example, what the heck is an auxiliary verb? We called those ‘helping verbs’ back in my day. For the Social Studies classes, the teacher lets me take full control, as she’s impressed with my knowledge of the world and it’s geography. Definitely my favorite subject to teach here.

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The student in the middle is  Amish,one of the kids at my homestay.
The student in the middle is Amish,one of the kids at my homestay.

During one of my break periods, Principal Aatma told me the teacher for class six is absent and they needed a teacher for the physical education class.

“I got it,” I told him.

I was more than happy to get outside with the students for some competitive action. There aren’t any set lesson plans here so I was able to do whatever I wanted. The equipment, for outside play is lacking: a few badminton sets, a couple of soccer balls, and a volleyball setup. The conditions here aren’t the best for soccer. One bad kick will send the ball flying down the mountain! So instead I setup the volleyball net and taught the boys the proper setup for volleyball. I gave the girls the badminton sets and let them have at that.

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These guys have played volleyball before but it’s always been very sloppy and unorganized. I divided them into even teams of six and taught them the rotation method so that everyone gets an equal shot at each position on the court. They didn’t like the organized method at first but soon grew used to it and some actually preferred it over their usual setup. I was part of one team of lesser skilled students just to even out the playing field. We had some pretty intense games going on! But at the same time I was able to teach them a lot about team work and team spirit. I rarely ever hit the ball over the net; I always hit the ball towards another student on my team. And when we won our first game, I had them stand in two lines and walk past the opposing team, clapping their hands in good sportsmanship.

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If I had more time here, I would definitely consider starting an after school athletics program between the few schools up here on this mountain. As far as I know, there aren’t any extra-curricular activities for the kids after school. The two they are keen on most, badminton and volleyball, are the most suitable for the terrain conditions. There’s barely a field large enough up here for soccer (football) without the ball constantly flying down the mountain. I’ll see what I can do later down the road.

The days here are pretty nice. I actually look forward to seeing all the kids everyday, especially the ones from the older classes. The school of about 250 students (about the size of my high school graduating class) are a fun bunch of cool little kids.

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All of them like me, except for this one little girl in the baby class who is scared half to death every time she sees me. She’s maybe three years old and always wears a tiny green sweater and she hates me! I greet as many students that come my way everyday, but that little girl though, she wants none of it and runs away crying her eyes out every single time I come near. The other teachers think it’s hilarious and it kinda is. But…do I look like a monster? I know I have a mean look on my face sometimes but I promise that’s just my ‘thinking’ face. I still have some time to show that little girl I’m no monster but until then, she will run for her life whenever I wave to her. At least it’s amusing. I’ve managed to capture a photo of her.

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The Power Ranger with five wives who is also a scary monsterI’ll take whatever I can get with these kids!