Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today was one of the best days I’ve had in a long, long time. I just had to post a little something and not let this day pass by without acknowledging it. Now this is breaking the chronology of my blog significantly, because I’ve written 5 other entries already about all the other island stops on my post-Christmas trip (Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, Palau and Guam), but my computer is giving me major hassles with uploading pictures currently. So I’ll post a few more stories from my trip (ok, not just a few…you know how long-winded I always am!) with pictures when I can straighten things out (maybe by this weekend). But for now…let’s just focus on today.

My day started at 4:30am when I woke up, showered, and headed down to the Tide Table restaurant for the 5am live broadcast of the inauguration of Barrack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. I am SO glad to have made it. His speech was so inspiring and I am SO thankful for a leader who will guide our country with compassion and hopefulness, while extending a hand of inclusion to all the other countries in the world. I am a staunch independent. I will never register for either the Republican or the Democratic Party. I will always vote for the candidate who I think is best qualified for the job, regardless of party affiliation. From the moment I heard about and read the platform of Barrack Obama, I knew that this man had my vote. I read his stance on immigration reform (something I feel very strongly about) and it focused on compassionately controlling our borders while treating human beings with respect as well as focusing on reuniting families. I read other platform topics and the whole thing just resonated with me. It was such a joy to celebrate (we were celebrating on Wednesday morning) with a few others (mostly from the yacht-residents of Majuro) a wonderful new beginning. Then I ate yummy French toast with local bananas and went home to bed to catch a few more winks of sleep before work. I awoke again at 9am to find no water (our catchment was dry as a bone), so I was extremely grateful to have woken up at 4:30am before the catchment was dry!

School went really well. This semester I have a lighter teaching load (though overflowing class sections) that allows me to spend some quiet time preparing for my classes and keeping organized. It has been MONTHS since I’ve done this. Last semester I was running around constantly in survival mode, always frazzled, and I never had time to prepare creative new lessons, I just had to recycle lessons from past semesters (which is ok, they were good lessons from the past, but not putting your heart into teaching is not good for the morale). So yesterday and today I had the luxury of preparing adequately for classes and organizing my office. It feels great!

I also booked my flights for a weekend trip that I’m taking to Berkeley California at the end of February to a workshop on teaching critical thinking skills. This is a developmental need that the majority of our students have that we do not explicitly address on our campus. When you grow up in a place where there are not many decisions to be made, and those that are made are made by elders and chiefs, young people don’t grow up in an environment that forces them to practice critical thinking. In fact, Marshallese culture strongly discourages thinking for yourself. Yourself is not a concept that exists in this culture. Community is everything, the individual is nothing without it. This is absolutely true. Marshallese living on outer islands with very little contact with the outside world will die without the support of their communities, and it has worked like that for thousands of years. Then in comes the western world and a western College, and tells young people to start questioning (a strict Marshallese taboo), analyzing, criticizing at age 20 when they’ve never done that before in their lives. Can you imagine what a challenge it is to teach a global curriculum that is so counter to everything our students have ever been taught? Yet to survive in a global society, our students will have to take the good from their own culture and blend it with the good from western culture. Easier said than done!! I’m so excited to get new ideas to help them through this process much better!

In addition to attending this fantastic workshop and getting all kinds of new ideas, I’m going home! Berkeley is about an hour’s drive from my hometown, and I’m flying my sister Honor and her adorable 2 year old Grant in from Utah so we can all be together. It will be the first time the whole family is home in a long time. My brother and his wife and adorable baby live near my parents and my youngest sister Cammie also lives nearby. I am SO excited to spend a long weekend with them!

So after finishing work I raced off to aerobics, which was a great workout and very satisfying. After that I went to Payless to get groceries and found just exactly what I was looking for, and it was all on clearance. I also discovered that Payless had over-bought women’s jeans from Target and had reduced them all to $1.49 (you read that correctly, $1.49). Since there is not much competition for my size (the majority of women here are literally a foot shorter than I am if not shorter), there were tons of size 12 extra long jeans. Yahoo!! They fit great, they’re comfortable, and my inner cheapskate feels supremely satisfied that I found the cheapest jeans on the planet! (Believe me, I come from a long line of Mitchell cheapskates…even this bargain is sure make my family extremely proud!)

After exercising I came home and cleaned up my house and realized that there was still no water. No worries, I just came to my office and took a shower in the new scuba shower room just downstairs from my office in our new Math/Science/Nursing building at CMI. Hardly anyone uses it. Now I’m clean, happy, and back in my office at 10:30pm writing this blog. What a wonderful day!


Dana Lee Ling said...

I crawled out at 3:00 A.M. here on Pohnpei to watch the inauguration at 4:00 A.M. No restaurants open, so I watched from the living room sofa.

A new math/science/nursing building and a SCUBA shower room both caught me eye. Glad to hear CMI is growing and building once again!

Jane said...

I love reading about your life on the marshall islands. I just wanted to tell you hello, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I also wanted to let you know that I was able to get my sons passport renewed, thanks for putting me in touch with that family.

Honor said...

Britt, you sound so happy and I love it! I bet the lighter load calls for a huge sigh of relief. I know how much you love being able to actually spend your time focusing on your classes, and coming up with ways to teach that will be specifically tailored to your students. Some of the lesson ideas I've heard you talk about over the years have been genius! I hope that's more of what you get to do this semester. More of what really made you want to teach in the first place.
We really haven't been all together since Christmas of 06 huh? Wow Grant was 3 months old! It will be a great dynamic to have everyone including little Mitchell Betas.
"even this bargain is sure make my family extremely proud!"
RIGHT YOU ARE! I'm so jealous! To find such a deal without having to spend hours digging through shelves and then to find the perfect size is AWESOME! I still doubt that even if they had my size in a TALL, they'd fit me. You lucked out with having a 34" inseam instead of a 36". I want your bod! Wait, that didn't sound right! HAHA! I'm so glad you had a wonderful day and that you have LOTS more this semester! Love you!