Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy International Mother Language Day and Happy Birthday to Kristen

February 21, 2011 Another day off of school for a national holiday. As has been the case lately, holidays and weekends do not necessarily mean a day of rest and relaxation. School is in full swing and has been busier than ever, meaning lots of fun and exciting activities (and academic work). International Mother Language Day was a wonderful experience that I'm glad I woke up early for :) Students gathered at 7am (yes, it was optional and yes, students didn't actually start showing up until closer to 7:30....we should have known better!!) at the university gate - all dressed in black and white ready to walk to the national monument in Chittagong where we would donate our flowers. Along the walk, students sang songs to show their Bangla pride and purchased Bangladeshi flag headbands. The students had told me we would walk barefoot, which I contemplated but wasn't sure if I would actually walk the streets of Chittagong barefoot....I later found out that in Dhaka there is a special walking area and people do make long walks barefoot (on painted pavement adorned with flowers). Without those special arrangements in Chittagong we walked to the monument before removing our shoes (thank goodness!).

After the International Mother Language Day ritual/ceremony was complete, the students seemed to quickly scatter. It was about 10:30 by the time we made it home....time to eat breakfast/lunch and nap! The nap was necessary because we had a student-faculty basketball game at 4! The faculty won 38-14 but the students scored 12 points in the second half!! Of course, what do you do after any team sport, win or lose??? Eat ice cream, of course! So we treated our students to ice cream after the game!

After the basketball game, it was time to freshen up and cook some bruschetta (Michelle and mine's contribution) for Kristen's birthday celebration! It was a delicious night including bruschetta, pineapple pizza calzones, hamburgers and french fries, and chocolate cake with bounty bars!

Here are some pictures from the day....enjoy!

My students, past and present....Nusrat (white group), Khadiza (red group), and Saika (orange group)

 Vietenamese students showing their multiculturalism

One of the students with a hat she made - it was intense, blood and all! (ok, fake blood)

 Tien and another student with the spirited Bangladeshi flags! The whole city is green with red dots -- the CNGs are green and now they have all painted red dots on them to show their pride on National Mother Language Day.

 Intense face painting!

Once we made it to the monument (a 40 minute walk) we took off our shoes before visiting the monument and donating our flowers.

 The students and our flower arrangement
 AUW on International Mother Language Day, February 21, 2011

Everyone was showing their Bangla pride!

A group of cheerful boys
Happy Birthday to Kristen!!

yummy birthday cotton candy! :)

All those years that I played basketball (and dreaded practice)...who would have ever thought I'd be playing basketball in Bangladesh!!
Celebrating with ice cream!! :) 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fishery Ghats

February 12, 2011 I finally made it to the fishery ghats! Claudio, AUW's professional photographer, graciously donated 6 SLR cameras to the photography club because last time he was here the photography club had NO cameras!! After the symposium he has been at AUW teaching groups of students how to use the cameras and leading them on trips to document the Saraswati Puja. This past weekend he took the photography club to one of his favorite places in Chittagong, the fishery ghats. For the best photos and most action at the fish market we left early, early, early (6am) Saturday morning. It was so worth it! There was so much happening - building ships, unloading fish, transporting huge blocks of ice, selling the fish, drying the fish, etc. I even boldly climbed up a flimsy ladder with 2 students to explore a ship being built - we found out that it only takes them 3 months to build the ships - crazy, huh?! Big thanks to Claudio for an awesome field trip and for renewing my love of photography! Oh yeah, and donating cameras to the photography club so the students can finally be little shutterbugs!

Here are a few of my favorites from the day....enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

2011, where did you come from???

Somehow 1/12 of 2011 is already over and I haven't even begun to think about my goals! I thought I'd start this year by reviewing last year's goals that I so conveniently blogged about. It's funny how in one way or another all of my goals from 2010 got accomplished...similar to Under the Tuscan Sun, my goals may not have been accomplished in the way I expected to accomplish them but reflecting back on 2010, I did achieve them! For 2011 I want to keep it pretty simple....

1. Be happy. Who doesn't want to be happy?! I'm a happy girl but really want to reflect on what and who makes me happy because when I'm happy, I'm more energized and I want to feel this happiness and energy everyday!
2. Be appreciative. There are so many things that we take for granted everyday. I want to be more appreciative for everything and everyone I'm lucky enough to have in my life. 
3. Be selfless. As I learned this past week at the Chittagong Grammar School's conference, "Closing the Gap" I was fortunate to have been born into a family that was able to send me to school and take care of me. Not everybody has this same fortune and we all have gifts (not necessarily monetary) that we can offer to other people. This even means sharing the last cookie in the package! Even if I don't want to!
4. Be patient. This is a great characteristic that Michel, a french traveler we met in Nepal, was working on through his travels. I also feel the need to improve this sometimes - whether it's with friends, students, strangers, or travelers. Everything will work out in the end - so why not have a pinch of patience along the way.
5. Be healthy. Everybody always says they're going to work out, diet, whatever....this year I'm focusing on taking better care of my skin! Wearing sunscreen everyday (especially on my face) and figuring out how to get rid of the mosquito bite scars all over my feet...thank you Bangladesh...

Happy New Year from Udaipur!!

Hiking and Paragliding in Nepal

December 22, 2010 Our last day in Nepal...After too many days in the big city of Kathmandu, Michelle and I were ready to see the esteemed mountains of Nepal. Since it was almost Christmas time I was feeling especially nostalgic for the Alps and this was the perfect cure!! In fact, I think the Himalayas might be more beautiful and breath taking than the Alps! (crazy, huh?) It was absolutely gorgeous hiking up to the city of Sarangkot and watching the sunset from the mountain side. We went to bed early - one, because we were exhausted; two, because it was freezing and curling up in bed was the warmest option! The next morning we woke up bright and early to catch the sunrise (unfortunately with a million other people who didn't even make the effort to climb up the mountain...yes, there's a road that takes you right to the top). After the sunrise it was time to paraglide down the mountain!!

Sunrise from Sarangkot

Pokhara Valley

 Paragliding Start Point!

 And we're off!! Looking back on the Himalayas and our starting point

Igor, my awesome Russian pilot, and I mid flight!

Looking down on all the other paragliders -- Igor was awesome at finding thermals and keeping us high up in the air! I had wanted to go parahawking (the pilot looks for the hawks in the air and follows them because they find the thermals and float around - not losing altitude) but there's only one pilot that does this in Pokhara and he wasn't flying that day....but Igor naturally did this - AWESOME! Sometimes the hawk would be flying right beside us!


Friday, February 4, 2011

My Guilty Pleasures

When I travel I always have a serious obsession with photographing locks, colorful doors, and laundry lines!! So here are a few i spotted on my vacation to Nepal and India

Nepal/India faves

I may never get around to going through all of my pictures from my 3 week vacation to Nepal and India but I wanted to post a few favorites.

At a Buddhist temple in Nepal

At the end of the day when we were waiting for our bus to take us "home" to Agra after a day of sightseeing in Fathepur Sikri I went to buy a bottle of water... I had a long debate about which stand would have the safest water and I wanted to make sure I chose a stand that had properly sealed bottles of water! Well, I got way more than I bargained for! 10 minutes later the vendor took a huge knife to my bottle of water to get it open - yup, it was sealed alright!! While waiting I happened to see these cute men sitting around a shoe polisher. 

Kristen swears I chose this cute old guy to be our tour guide at the Agra Fort so I could take pictures of him...it's only 1/2 true! How cute is he?!

Beer camel! No, really! Our camel entourage had just arrived at our final destination in the dunes and we were enjoying the sunset and I made a comment that anywhere else in India or Bangladesh someone would come along trying to sell us something! Then we saw this guy. We didn't think much of him at first and then he asked us if we wanted to buy beer! We all busted out laughing because the timing was too perfect! Sad for him, we had already bought beer before setting off into the desert!

Delhi was where we got our shopping quota! Luckily we met a wonderful woman in Agra who we ended up staying with in Delhi and she told us about this special market that was going on - complete with festive music!

Lunar New Year Celebrations!

Our students, a few teachers, and OSA have organized several activities to celebrate the Lunar New Year! To kick things off we had an exciting game night with Chinese candies and calendars as prizes!

Chopstick Races

 Tricky Riddles

Le, one of my Vietnamese students, was so mad that I was able to do this twice (with the easy and the more difficult chopsticks) and she couldn't do it once!

 Hakima, one of my Afghan students, trying really hard to pick up the pingpong ball - she eventually got it!!

 Thuy, Xian, and Oanh -- past and present students

 Vietnamese Bingo!! AWESOME! I can't even tell you how much we laughed and how much fun this was!

Xiang Ba, another one of my students this semester at the Calligraphy table -- writing symbols that are beyond my abilities!