Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ride of the Valkyries -- as interpreted by middle school students

Over the past few months, I've done a lesson with all of my upper school students (grades 5-8) on music interpretation. I played "Ride of the Valkyries" and they had to answer questions about what the story was, who was in it, where it was, when, how it felt, etc.  In every single class, at least some of them were convinced it was from Star Wars. These are some of the responses. Most of the names are kids from the classes.

"School explodes, Csabi and Zalan survive. Zsolti is a zombi and Csabi kills him"

"C3po is dead in a World War in Budapest at Heroes' Square.

I also started taking pictures of the stories after the kids wrote them on the board... here are some of my favorites:

One day, the coconut go to school and meet the banana. The coconut hate the banana. So they fight. The coconut won.

One day the banana go to the chocolate planet and he meet the pineapple. They fight but the clown stoped they, because he love olives.

 One day Luke is go to Darth Vader with Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris is stuck Darth Vader's hair the chewing gum. And Darth Vader is don't put out his hair.

One day, Chuck Norris is go to Yoda. They are speak a long hours when come on Luke and die Chuck Norris. Yoda is go to Sweets Planet and eat lots of sweets.

 One of my 5th grade classes with their stories

Miklos is extra crazy mummy and kill Panna with a Miss Rose's music book.

Miklos dancing (the kan-kan) and singing the star wars music. He's wear the red skirt. The red flower in Miklos hair.

I can see Dori and kill them with a sword. After eat the heart.

Szabi and Niki go to the cinema. They see a horror film in 3D. An the monster kill Szabi.

Miss Rose singing in the school at night.

Bence is talking in Miss Rose's lesson in the evening.

Frankie left her leg at the disco and it go to dancing when she sleep.

Viktor Orban (Hungarian prime minister) goes to Bikini Bottom in the 1550's because Spongebob needs a new best friend. They have a great time, and they make Krabby Patties.

 Gyulabaci (principal of our school) and Hitman kills Pinocchio in Gyulabacsi's office. After they eat Pinocchio's bottom in a hospital.

In the 21st century Sponge Bob is going to catch a shark but the shark is not very happy and the shark eat Sponge Bob. He didn't die, he is going back in the time. He is very scared and he is woke up. This is a bad dream. (one of the students who often struggles -- I was very proud of her)

Obi Wan: An UFO killed Anakin.
Anakin: An UFO killed me.
In this time, Darth Vader started dancing for this music: Gangnam Style, and the Dark Emperor, Dora, Diego, and Jack Sparrow ... sorry ... Captain Jack Sparrow did the same.

In 300BC, Dora the explorer is singing gypsy music. After she meets with PSY at the Krusty Krab. Spongebob serves them hamburger. :) At the end, they make a Harlem Shake video.

At the 19th century Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader fought at the White House. The President killed himself, because he heard the music which was boring. Then Dora the explorer went to the White House and she saw when they were fighting. Then she picked up a sword and killed Darth Vader. After it she went back to the TV and sang a song called Gangnam style and started dancing.

In 3200 BC yoda singing in the white house with the beautiful spiderman.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away ... When Dora was playing computer games, she was attacked by Darth Vader. Dora dueled him for 5k$. Dora won and she killed her pet monkeys 'cos she won. After one week Dora died in a heart-attack.
"The force may be with you"

While I am very much looking forward to not teaching middle school after this year there are fun bits sometimes.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Third time's a charm: a tale of three grandpas

When I was 11, my grandpa got very sick. We didn't know until the very end but he had been fighting bone cancer for a long time and it hadn't been treated because the doctors insisted it was just diabetes complications. He was in hospice at home and I remember visiting and trying to avoid sitting in the living room because it was just too depressing to see the once vibrant man lying on the sofa hardly able to move. I also distinctly remember a “hospital smell” that didn't help things at all. One of the times we visited, I sneaked out of the house without going and saying good-bye. He died before I could see him again.

At 18, my grandpa died unexpectedly. My family was living in Europe at the time and only my mom was able to fly back for the funeral. I didn't feel the guilt like I did the first time because I hadn't chosen to ignore him but I still missed it.

My grandpa is retiring this year from his job as professor/choir director at my university. He has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life for the past seven years. I don't know how many classes I had with him in school (definitely more than 12). He accompanied me on both my junior and senior recitals as well as many juries and concerts. We roadtripped with assorted other music students to choral festivals. He was always ready to discuss problems and help in any way he could. I felt a huge connection to him from the very beginning which has only grown over the years. I could write on and on about this man and the impact he has had in my life but I'll sum it up pretty simply: if someday I am half the teacher he is, I will have done my job.

In front of University Choir

When I heard that he was retiring, I knew I had to make it home for his last concert. Thankfully, this was a much happier occasion than a funeral but I knew I would always regret it if I couldn't come. I wasn't going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I kept my trip a secret from almost everyone. I am friends with him on facebook so I was especially careful not to mention anything on there. By the week before my trip only four of my friends (and my immediate family) knew I would be in the States.

Teaching philosophy: every lesson should have an "AAhh," "Ahha," and "Haha" moment
Most of this blog post is being written while I sit in airports before and between my flights going back to Hungary. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to travel home for this concert. Yesterday, I spent most of the day in PA. I saw friends who I haven't seen in years. I had a chance to catch up with various professors. And, best of all, I saw the way his eyes lit up in shock when he realized I had come from Hungary just for the concert. He later mentioned it in the middle of the concert as he spoke of how touched he was that so many music alums had made it. “Someone even came all the way from Hungary. Yes, for real.” I had multiple people come up to me after saying they had no idea I was there until they heard what he said. 

In the end, I wouldn't change a thing about my trip. It was completely worth the cost and travel time even though I was traveling nearly as long as my time in the US. Besides the concert, I was able to spend time with another friend today (Monday), see my therapist, had a dr. appt, ate tons of Mexican food, enjoyed two full days of ungraded English conversation, purchased more stickers for my students, had a phone interview about my internship for next year, and spent time with my family. I've needed this trip with how lonely I have been (I had two friends last semester – one moved to Budapest, the other “broke up with me” because she claims she has too many meetings to ever see me).

With some of the other "music kids"
I might have messed things up the first two times with my grandpas but I have nothing to regret about this time.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Just an average day at the market

This is one of the many things I will miss when I move back to the States.

6 eggs
1 large bulb of garlic
3 big oranges
1 cucumber
1/2 lb beautiful mushrooms
1 beeswax candle (from the woman who probably made it)

Grand total - 1260ft ($5.77)
Total without the candle - 760ft ($3.48)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Personal Statement

This is for my University of Bridgeport application. The program is a Master of Science in Elementary Education with initial certification. The first year of the program is comprised of interning in a local elementary school and classes in the evenings. The last months are for student teaching. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

      Staring at my bookcase, I wonder when the education books began to outnumber the music scores. When exactly did I start to purchase teaching texts over aria compilations? What changed my goal from staring in Mozart operas to being Miss Kovach and teaching about Columbus, baking soda volcanoes, and multiplication? The important thing, however, is not how this change occurred but the simple fact that it did. 
     I came to love teaching through experience. Becoming a teacher was not something I planned. At first, teaching was simply an excuse to move to Hungary. I was ill prepared and had little knowledge of what teaching actually required. I had worked as a kindergarten assistant and taught a few preschool classes for an education course in college but those were little preparation for facing a classroom of middle school students. My first day was terrifying. I remember thinking “at least I never have to have another FIRST first day of teaching!” Despite my apprehension, I am proud of my accomplishments that first year as a teacher. Of course there were problems, but as a brand new teacher with little support, just making it through the year was a victory. Now in my second year as a full-time teacher, I have realized teaching is more than a means to an end. I love teaching and I want to obtain certification which will broaden my opportunities as well as help me become a better teacher who can inspire students to love learning.

    The certification program at University of Bridgeport is particularly appealing to me because of the internship part of the program. After spending two years as a teacher, I hope to continue to develop through experience as well as formal education. The opportunity to apply what I will be learning directly into my internship will be a better means of reinforcement than any test or paper could ever be. Additionally, I strongly believe that teachers have an obligation to be both educators and role models to their students. The opportunity to work with and learn from experienced teachers in my placement will provide very practical and applicable knowledge in these areas.

   My professional goal after completing my certification is to become a classroom teacher in an international school. Grades 2-4 are particularly appealing to me, because students are excited to learn and ready to continue building on the foundation created during nursery, kindergarten, and first grade. In my two years as an English teacher in Hungary, I have seen how important it is to be an ambassador for my country. I may be the only American my students ever meet so it is vital that I make a good impression. Additionally, the children in international schools have a special set of needs and, having lived outside of the US as a child, I understand what some of those challenges can be. With this certification and degree, I hope to be better equipped to educate and inspire my students.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The men of Pride and Prejudice ... and me

It's been two years. Two years since I started the most damaging relationship of my life. Six months of getting caught and dragged into the mindset of someone who has even larger mental issues than I do. My counselor once laughed (kindly) when I expressed my anger that I wasn't "over" the situation. She said that like a broken leg or any other injury, things take time to heal. That was three months after the relationship ended. I wonder what she would say if she saw me now. It's been a year and a half since I broke up with him. I'm still angry. I wish I could be the bigger person and wish him well. I know he didn't mean to destroy me the way he did. Tonight, I realized another piece of the puzzle. How can he be over me (at least, I hope he is when he's back on the dating site where we met - something I adamantly refuse to do) when I am still a wreck? I guess it takes less time to heal a broken heart than a broken mind.

I've been thinking about Pride and Prejudice lately. That book has never been one of my favorites. I tried reading it when I was 10 or 11, had to read it in 8th grade, and then tried at least once after that. While I have always enjoyed the film adaptations, the book just irritated me. That changed in the past month. I have been watching (and loving) The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on youtube for months. This modern adaptation of P&P is quirky, hilarious, and engaging. Without saying too much about it, I highly recommend it. Now that I've reread and actually "get" P&P, I've been thinking about it almost non-stop. I've realized that I've liked, dated, and/or been liked by nearly every man in the book in some form or another.

Mr. Collins - had Lizzie married him, it would have destroyed her mind. Her heart as well, but currently, I think a broken mind is worse. I had to laugh when I saw an interview with the actor who plays Mr. Collins on LBD. His description of the role sounds just like the person mentioned above as well as others who have tried to get that close.

Wickham (hardly deserves a title) - such a despicable human being. While he broke Lizzie's heart, she was lucky enough not to have been close enough to have given him her mind. I liked one. Not enough to have my heart was broken when his true colors were revealed, thankfully, but enough to be filled with disgust and anger over someone who could exploit the innocent in such a way.  Thankfully, as in the book, his situation has permanently changed to prevent further occurrences.

Fitzwilliam - at least in the world of LBD - every girl's best friend. Doesn't do well with more than that.

Bingley (or Bing Lee - LBD) - a kind, gentleman but, ultimately, too gentle for Lizzie. At least the Bing's that I have liked have retained my respect after the attraction faded.

I'm missing one. Oh, right, Mr. Darcy.

Sigh. I like to think there is one out there for me. Who knows.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy New Year!

2012 is over! Hallelujah!! What started as the most miserable months of my life (maybe even worse than my time at Central) finished with a bang in London's Trafalgar Square with my sister, Helen. Now, I'm back at home dealing with the enormous let-down that comes after two weeks of Christmas vacation and Helen's returning to the States.

I had a wonderful visit with Helen. She arrived a few days before school ended and visited my classes for two days before Christmas break. Once school was finished, we spent a few days around my town, visiting the market in Debrecen, going to the spa, decorating for Christmas, making caramels, roasting a duck for Christmas dinner, visiting my vice-principal's house, and other assorted things around Szoboszlo. Although, I much prefer living in Budapest, it was nice to be able to show someone my little town.

The day after Christmas, we took the train to Budapest and spent a very rainy day walking around. We tried to go to the ice rink at City Park and the Christmas Market but both were closed due to the rain. We did make it to dinner at our family's favorite restaurant. At this point, things got crazy because I had to run home (3 hours each way on the train) to get my inhaler. Both of us had bad colds and I didn't want to risk 10 days without it. After I arrived back to Budapest, we barely made our flight to London and arrived exhausted.

Our original plan had been to visit Sarajevo because I enjoyed it so much over Fall break and I thought Helen would like it too. This fell apart when the Hungarian train system cut the direct route from BP to Sarajevo which would have made the trip twice as long. We scrambled at the last minute to find something else to do and decided to go to London and Dublin. It was a wonderful decision. There were plenty of bumps in the road as we had to find hostels and flights over New Year's but everything got sorted out in the end. I would NEVER stay at Heathrow Lodge again (I don't think our room had ever been cleaned... ick!) but we could afford it and made do.

Except for our hostel situation, London was fantastic. I can't wait for my next chance to go back! We got the London Pass which worked really well for us - included travel (important since we were staying about an hour from the city center) and was simpler than buying tickets everywhere we went. We saw Westminster Cathedral, Westminister Abbey, Buckingham Palace (the Queen was home), the Household Cavalry Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, toured the National Theater backstage (disappointing because they didn't show the costume areas), toured the replica of the Globe Theater (I got to be a model in the costume demonstration... almost made up for the National Theater), got to see Tower Bridge raise and lower, watched New Year's fireworks from Trafalgar Square, Big Ben (not nearly as big as I expected), and probably a bunch that I'm forgetting.

Both Helen and I got very excited, and subsequently disappointed, over two different church services we hoped to attend on Sunday. Helen wanted to see/hear her favorite boy's choir singing Evensong at their home church but they were gone for Christmas break. I have been dying to attend an Anglican-use Catholic Mass since B16 established the Personal Ordinariates. Unfortunately, the one I found was also on Christmas break so we just went to a "regular" Mass. More things for  us to look forward to for our next visits.

On New Year's Day, we flew from London to Dublin and spent a few days in a city very important to our family's history. My Dad remembers the math teachers' party at which my Mom met him in Wisconsin, but doesn't remember meeting her. He first remembers meeting her in a train station in Dublin when they were both there for a conference. Six to eight first dates later, there was finally a third, fourth, etc date and the rest is history. Neither of my parents could remember which train station but we visited both.

In Dublin, we went on a walking tour led by a local grad student who shared loads of info about the history of Ireland and Dublin. It was fascinating to hear, especially about the Catholic history of the country. We didn't see nearly as much in Dublin as in London, but I wasn't as interested in it as a city. It was nice to visit but I don't see myself back any time soon. One thing that shocked me was how expensive it was. I never would have expected it to be more expensive than London. One of our days we spent on a day trip/bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher and Galway. That was my favorite part of Ireland. It was so beautiful and our drivers/tour guides were very informative and entertaining.

The food in both places was fantastic! We ate so much cheddar cheese it's amazing we didn't turn orange. Living in a country that tends to have mostly bland cheese, I was in heaven. I also loved the fish and chips. I don't buy fish very often and tend to be picky but both places we got fish and chips were amazing. The fish was mild and creamy with a soft/crunchy shell (yes, I realize that doesn't make much sense). The chips were good too but I found the fish to be the real star of those meals. Our last night in Ireland, I had an amazing Steak and Guinness pie which I think I could eat almost everyday of my life. Although we were in London where Helen (at 17) could have legally drank, we didn't have much alcohol on the trip. I had a London's Best in the little pub next to our hostel in London and a Guinness in Dublin but wasn't impressed with either. I did really enjoy the Classic Pimm's that I had in London though.

We arrived back to Budapest on Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day visiting pastry shops and getting some last minute shopping done for Helen. She flew out this morning and I took the train back to Szoboszlo. School starts again tomorrow morning and I have massive amounts of laundry to do but I am choosing to enjoy my last night by doing a whole lot of nothing.

Pictures will be on FB and I may try to add some to this post later.

Happy New Year everyone!!