Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Assorted rambling thoughts

I've officially lost my heart in Budapest. Well, to be completely honest, in Pomaz. "My" kids at the kindy are absolutely adorable. Yes, we have a few that cause problems but even those can be very sweet when they want to be. I am one of the English teachers for the Happy Owls group at Treasure (I think that's the translation) Kindergarten. The Happy Owls is the youngest group consisting of eight kids who are 2-2.5 (technically the 2 year-olds aren't allowed but I don't know the full story because they are there). Six of the kids came in with no English knowledge, one is being raised bilingually by her parents, and the eighth has had some exposure but I'm not sure how. This kindergarten just opened this year with about 30 kids in three groups. That is MUCH smaller than Daisy Kindergarten, the Foundation's other kindergarten, where I worked five years ago. At Daisy, there are more than 20 kids in each group. I can't imagine having 20 of the kids I work with now... eight is enough to handle at the moment. There will be more posts about work/kindergarten/the kids/the (crazy) parents in the future, but I've got some other random updates.

At the beginning of daily Mass this evening, the priest started talking about something apparently pretty serious. I wasn't paying particular attention but it sounded like someone had died. We continued with the Mass and at the prayers of the faithful the priest prayed for something related or so it sounded. I was wracking my brain wondering if this was something I should know about or if there was some recent tragedy I'd missed. Finally, when we stood for the final hymn, the first few notes of the introduction to the Himnusz (Hungarian National Anthem) put the pieces together. October 6th is a day of remembrance for "The 13 Martyrs of Arad" who stood up for a parliamentary government and were executed by the Austrians in 1849. Once I realized, I felt pretty silly because not only had I gotten an email about an event at school today, there was a display at school which I had recognized for the day. Oh well... at least it wasn't something like October 23rd or March 15 (two of the three major Hungarian national holidays... on the level of the 4th of July).

Speaking of the Himnusz, I've known it for years (actually sang it at my high school senior recital) but hadn't had any reason to sing it recently. However, I've definitely heard it lately. The 7th grade music class had to memorize it, so I heard all their rehearsals in class and then the singing tests. Knowing the words and being able to sing it in Mass tonight gave me another reason to know other national anthems. When the students were learning the Himnusz, I was teaching about the 4 anthems of the USA, Britain, Australia, and Canada. Some of the students complained about how it was crazy to learn about other national anthems (they didn't have to memorize them, just learn about them). We discussed some reasons in class - the beauty of being able to understand what they say... the complaining was in Hungarian but I was able to address it when I started teaching. These reasons mostly involved respecting the other countries and the respect that their citizens give to the national anthems. Tonight I had another reason, so that when you are at church (or any other public event) on the day of a national holiday/day of remembrance you know the words and can sing with everyone else. Take that, 7th grade!

Oh, 7th grade. After English class today, I am pretty sure that if you shaved their heads at least a couple of them would have 666 tattooed there. They were wild, unwilling to do the assignment, one student refused to do basically anything besides disrupt the class. I, for the second time in my life, wish I had been an ed major at SHU (the first was after hearing reports of the way a particular teacher gave a lesson on giving detailed instructions :-) haha). Yes, I know that much of what they learn isn't particularly useful for teaching music, but general classroom management principles would be really helpful. As it is, I'm learning this teaching thing as I go along.

Even if I had had ed classes in school, they still wouldn't have prepared me for some of the cultural differences. I ran into one of those during the Year 6 music class today. We were writing the solfege for a Halloween song in dminor. After the class, my coteacher came up to me and told me it was entirely wrong. Apparently, they don't use relative minors with solfege. I was "wrong" because I had started the song (in d minor) with d as do. What an idea! Evidently, the "correct" way to do it is only to use the solfege for Fmajor (so in a relative minor the first note of the scale is "la") ... because that's not confusing or anything. Anyway, while I would debate the "correctness" of starting on do rather than la, looking back, I was still wrong because in my hurry to write the solfege in (she suggested I do the song about 30 minutes before the class), I had forgotten to use te, le, and me. Oops. Kids, if you don't get into the Liszt Academy because your inept music teacher in Year 6 screwed things up, don't blame me... you have 6 more years to have someone correct it - HAHA! Oh well, live and learn.

Things that I have been living and learning - if I don't get enough sleep, I'm really cranky the next day. Since I have to be at work before 8am and it takes about an hour to get there and I need "wake up time" so I am coherent, my alarm goes off at 5:30am 3-4 days a week. That means, to get 8 hours of sleep, I aim for bed around 9:30... talk about feeling old. Well, that time is fast approaching so I'd better sign off. Hopefully, next time I'll have more stories that don't involve me being a fool :) At least I can laugh about it!

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