April 8, 2010

I love my host parents & my SOC 114 class!

Despite the 45,000 things I have to get done before Monday, I'm writing a blog entry. I have two points of inspiration today: 1) My Intro to Soc students are AWESOME and 2) I'm anticipating taking students and community members to Russia May 2011 for a tour/class.

So, I'm happy... the Soc students and I had a great class that just came together. More people spoke. There was discussion and energy. They pulled apart a snarl of ideas that connect poverty, diet, illness, changes in technology, and urban planning together. They ripped into it. They ask "why care?" "Isn't too overwhelming?" "That system can't be changed." And they answered one another. "Change can happen and does happen." It was one of those "what-makes-teaching-totally-worth-while" days in that class. I hope they felt it too.

On the other hand, I've been thinking a lot about study abroad. [Anyone want to go? May 16-26, 2011 - Russia, Estonia, & Finland?] Anyway, because of all that is associated with organizing this tour/travel class (and the 26 books on Russia I am currently reading) I have a dilemma.

Here it is: I do NOT want the students to take on any more debt than absolutely necessary, but traveling abroad is such an amazing opportunity that does get any easier with time, work schedules, mortgages, and children. Avoid debt, but study abroad! Go now if you have the means. Go with BUNAC and get a job in another country for the summer... or finagle that deal where you get to rove or backpack across Europe with friends. Take a term or a year abroad and study. Do something!

(My SOC 114 students heard my adventures with a job in Scotland the summer before my Sophomore year... I bummed the plane fare from my parents promising to pay them back. I didn't realize they didn't think I would get the job and actually need the get the ticket. I learned a lot about "being American," the class system in the UK, serving very rich people food, cleaning their rooms, cheeses and whiskey, and badgers. I have stories to tell! And I pretty much paid my own way.)

So that is the gist of the excited/exciting stuff for today. Study abroad! Travel! See things! Have an adventure! Realize how weird and cool things are!

Warning: I'm about to wax sentimental.

I studied Russian in high school and then ended up with a major in Russian Language & Linguistics. I studied briefly in Voronezh, Russia. The picture above is me and my host parents. I love my host parents. They were really wonderful people. Both were retired teachers. They had no children of their own and frequently hosted international students studying in Russia. I ditched my American peers to go home each day and have lunch with them. We drank lots of chai. I learned how to cook Russki-style. We talked and spent a lot of time at that kitchen table. That picture is us (in 1998)... with the contents of a box of hair dye as we sat together preparing to dye my friend's hair. Don't believe me? (Adventures come in all kinds. How else do you help a homesick friend other?)

This is all taking place at the kitchen table. What good is short hair if you can't give someone a mohawk?

Seriously. It is the little things in life.

Okay, I ramble. I had a great time in Intro Soc today. And students should wrangle a way to study abroad.