Thursday, January 15, 2009

Travel!


Teaching in the Grammar School in Cyprus was an amazing experience, but it was not the only place I gained knowledge. Spending time in another country is an experience that I will never forget and taught me a lot about the world and myself. I knew going into this experience that I was going to have to adapt to the culture and be respectful to the people that lived there. I thought this was going to be a very difficult task, but the Cypriot people are known for their ability to make people feel at home.

We traveled all over Cyprus, which showed the many different aspects of Cyprus and different people as well. On a walk one day in Limassol, I met an old man that was looking for a walking partner that day. We walked down the sidewalk next to the beach for almost an hour and he told me his story. I still remember this very vividly because he explained how the Cypriots act as well as his traveling stories. He told me stories of traveling all over Europe and how he had been just about everywhere. I was so impressed by his stories and realized that traveling is now one of my goals in life.

I want to be able to experience the new cultures that I saw in Cyprus and meet many people. This experience allowed me to learn what is necessary in order to travel and taught me that I can do it. After spending a month in a half in Cyprus, I was also privileged enough to travel to Greece and Italy. I tried to take advantage of everything going on, but quickly realized that I was going to run out of money. I only had two weeks before I returned to Cyprus and then to the US, so I had to figure out a budget. I traveled with another girl that I had been teaching with and she was in the same situation, so we just set aside a day to hang out by the beach and figure out our plans.

One of the most important lessons I learned from this experience is that everything can change at any point. We changed our travel plans so many times to finally find one that fit our schedule and money. Traveling taught me so many life lessons that I feel many miss out on. Everyone should travel, even if it’s only around your own country.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is it always unfair?


I sometimes forget how lucky we are in the United States. Cyprus had many differences than the US, some that were previously mentioned, but the physical education world was extremely difficult as well. There are two main issues in physical education in Cyprus that required a lot of attentiveness by the teacher.

One of the issues is the lack of equipment. All physical education students learn that equipment possibilities are really dependent on whether the school has enough funding. The Grammar School is a private school, so funding comes directly from student tuition. This limits the amount of funding available for physical education and it shows in their lack of equipment. When you walk over to the Junior School gymnasium and open the equipment shed, you will find many hula-hoops, quite a few gatorskin balls, soccer balls and some cones. This is a lot considering the Grammar School shed, which has some gatorskin balls, kickballs, soccer balls, footballs and poly spots. This is what you have to work with and can go to JUMBO to buy any other things you need. Fortunately we were able to bring a large parachute with us for the Junior School to keep and include in their equipment. Each semester that a group of students visit Cyprus, the students try to bring a piece of equipment that the school can add. All the students loved the parachute and I feel it will be a great asset as long as the paved court doesn’t rip it.

The other major issue is the inequality in the society. Many Cypriot men believe that women should do their job at home and fall back into the 1950s beliefs of women in the US. In the Grammar School, the boys and girls are split into different classes by boys and girls depending on the classroom class they are in. Girls get to learn alternative sports that the boys do not learn. When I was there, the only sports I saw boys playing were football (soccer) and basketball. The girls would play volleyball, dance, and another student even taught Frisbee.

The biggest occurrence of inequality came when the student teaching Frisbee was kicked off the court so the boys could play soccer on the entire p.e. court. This required her to teach in the parking lot of the school because there was nowhere else to go. I was on the small court teaching Takraw at the time and another female teacher was teaching volleyball, while the Junior School was having class so their courts were used up. The male teachers had no problem with kicking her off and she was lucky enough to make-do with the parking lot. I hope that in the US all physical educators are learning the importance of equality and allowing all students the opportunities to participate.
video

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cultural Changes


While student teaching, it was interesting to see how the culture of Cyprus was involved in the school often. There were many cultural events that showed off events that had taken place in Cyprus. The students often put on a show in the quad that showed many of their expertise in the arts. While I could not understand any of the acting, because it was in Greek, one of the other teachers were always around to help with the translation.

We were also given the opportunity to go on a few field trips during our trip. Field trips in the United States usually consist of going to a museum or to a national monument. The first one was similar since we went to the mountains to see a very old church. The students were not required to wear their uniforms this day and the trip to the church lasted about 20 minutes. We took a 2-hour bus ride to the church, stayed 20 minutes, and then left. The best part of the field trip follows visiting the church because everyone goes to a restaurant to eat for around 2 hours. The teachers all order many different foods to share and the students bring their lunches. It is an amazing meal and the students enjoy it because they get a day away from the school.

Along with field trips, we were given opportunities to attend other sporting events. One the first weekends we arrived, we were given the opportunity to attend the Junior and Grammar School basketball marathon. This consisted of many of the students from the Junior and Grammar schools meeting and playing basketball against each other all day. The money that was raised was given for children in need. There was an alumni game and a teachers’ game as well. A group of players, Peace Players International, from the Northern part of the country came together to play as well to show how efforts are being made to mend the sides.

The Cypriots are extremely competitive and while I was at the Grammar School I was lucky enough to experience the extreme competition. I was able to go to a track and field day as well as experience Gregoria sports day, which is held for the founders of the school. The students in the Junior and Grammar school participate in many different sporting events, but if they act unsportsperson like, they were disqualified. I felt so very honored to be the judge of one competition of builders and bulldozers, which led to many disqualifications. I hope to never meet people as competitive again in my life.

Monday, January 5, 2009

First International Experience

Studying abroad was one of the most influential experiences of my life. I was given the opportunity to travel to Cyprus in March of 2008. Many people do not know where Cyprus is or they believe it is one of the Greek Isles. It is a small island located in the Mediterranean Sea, but is split between Greece and Turkey. Turkey governs the Northern half, while the Southern half is governed by Cyprus. Nicosia, the capitol of Cyprus, is the only remaining split capitol in the European Union.

The two countries have battled over this land for many years, which ultimately led to the Turkish invasion in 1974. The invasion led to many Cypriots living in the Northern half of Cyprus to move southern or out of the country. The Northern half was then left to the Turkish to rule and not much development was continued in the area. The Southern half continued to flourish with the development of modern buildings and companies. The country relies mainly on tourism as income, which is easy to tell since the area is full of beautiful beaches and mountains.

While spending my time in Nicosia, I was able to travel to both sides of the country during my time off from teaching. I was teaching in the Grammar School and the Junior School in Nicosia on the Greek side. This is an English-speaking, private school that is available to the students in Nicosia that can afford it. In the Junior School the students are young and just learning English, while in the Grammar School the students are split between English and Greek classes.

I was teaching physical education in both schools, which is a difficult task when you are not speaking the students’ primary language. I quickly learned that demonstrations are key in teaching physical education because the students may still understand if they see it happen. Having the opportunity to teach in a foreign country changed my perspective of teaching styles. I learned a lot from being able to teach as well as traveling. I hope that this will not be my final opportunity to travel abroad or teach abroad. I will continue to explore the importance of studying abroad throughout my posts as well as the importance of learning new cultures.

For more information on traveling to Cyprus, please visit: http://www.visitcyprus.com. For information on the Grammar School, please visit: http://grammarschool.ac.cy.