06 April 2012

Good Friday with a difference

Today has definitely been a good Friday, but certainly not what I remember Good Friday being before I came to Cambodia.

For most of my life in Australia, Good Friday was a day when we took time to remember Jesus' sacrifice for us when He died on the cross. It was a Public Holiday, and there was always a church service (usually somewhat earlier than the usual Sunday service). There was a definite focus on the crucifixion, and usually a communion service. After that it was a quiet day, with no school or work.

My first Easter in Cambodia it came as a shock to realise that I would actually be teaching on Good Friday, and Easter Monday, and there would be no special service, at least not that I recall (and certainly not that I could attend). It actually turned out that I was on staff devotions that morning, and so I was able to take 20 minutes or so at the start of the day, with my colleagues, to think about Christ's death, and to share communion. Afterwards some of my colleagues thanked me for it, mentioning that they too were missing Good Friday services. I haven't been able to do that since.

This year Good Friday ended up being the last day of school before our Khmer New Year holidays, so there was definitely little time for contemplation. I'll do a little more of that soon, before I head to bed. Instead, we started the day with Khmer New Year games. I wrote about these here last year. It was a very noisy, very active, fun hour and a half to start the day off. We divided all the children from Kindergarten to 5th grade into 10 teams (about 16-20 students from all different classes in each group), and then rotated through five games. The games were all ones the children really enjoyed, so it was a great morning.

After Khmer New Year games were over and we had all wished each other Soursdey Chnam Thmei (Happy Khmer New Year), we headed back to our classrooms. We had about 45 minutes before grades 3 to 5 were due to go to recess, so just enough time for a quick GO Check, and today's Write Rights. Most of the children did very well on their GO Check, although a few had forgotten one of the last division strategies we learned.

After recess it was time for Journal Writing. I've been increasingly impressed by the creative writing of some of my students so I'm looking forward to reading today's efforts. This time they were asked the imagine the weirdest creature that could, and then to write a description of it, including what it looks like, what it eats, where it lives, etc.  It should make for some fun reading. I also asked them each to choose their favourite piece of writing to share with the principal for our WASC self-study.

After that we finished off our mathematics unit for the week, and then it was off to swimming (for the girls) and Khmer (for the boys). Finally, after lunch, we did the big box and folder clean out, and took some time to check that I had all the necessary bits of Biome's tasks. The clean out and tidy up part went well. The Biome's tasks? Alas, I learned a lesson. I need to check with individual groups much earlier in the process. I had done some checking and had been monitoring materials etc, but while 6 groups had completed (or almost completed) their 8 tasks, but the other 2 groups have quite a bit still to do. I sent them off to finish them over the holidays. We will see! Meanwhile I've got some photographing and scanning to do so we can make PowerPoint presentations that allow the whole class to see the content of posters and models. I'm so glad I've got two extra days of "holidays".

Finally the day was done and the children all sent on their way to holidays. I picked up some photocopying I'd requested (so impressed to have it back before the holidays), and then headed home to pay the rent. That ended up taking much longer than I should, for reasons I won't share here, but suffice to say they involved a 4 year old and were messy. Next it was off to the post office where, just in time for holiday reading, I picked up my latest BookSneeze book, Dawn Comes Early by Margaret Brownley. It is historical fiction set on a cattle ranch in the Arizona Territory in 1895. I'm looking forward to it. Hope it's good.

From there I headed north in the peak hour traffic in search of the Hotel Juliana where an acquaintance of my mother was waiting, with her husband, to join me for dinner. It was a fun evening, even though I didn't know these people before, and it was interesting to hear their impressions of Cambodia.

So now, it's time for a shower (got to wash that chlorine off and out properly), some quiet reading and reflection on the real reason for Good Friday, and hopefully a peaceful night's sleep. Hooray! I get to sleep in tomorrow.

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