The last post was very much about me. So on to those precocious youngsters I call my students. A few anecdotes for you.
In Beregszasz I teach younger students – ages 10 to 12. This week both groups were particularly interested in whether or not I’d ever met a movie star. “Ismered Hannah Montanna? Adam Lambert? Orlando Bloom? Kate Winslet? Sean Connery?” (Sean Connery they pulled from their textbook.) I had to admit that I had never met a movie star and had never, in fact, been to Hollywood. I drew a very bad map of the United States on the chalkboard and made stars at the sites of Los Angeles and Grand Rapids. “It’s very far away,” I told them. Though, as one student pointed out, Ukraine is very far from Grand Rapids, too.
There are two students in Péterfalva who approached me to ask for extra lessons and conversation practice. Best way to make a teacher’s day: ask for extra lessons.
Have you ever seen English transcribed into Cyrillic? Sometimes, Szebi, one of the four village children I tutor, writes down his English vocabulary words in Cyrillic script. He doesn’t learn much Hungarian reading or writing at the Ukrainian school he attends. This is a cultural issue that I could write a whole series of posts about.
Several weeks ago, I filled in for the main English teacher in Péterfalva and taught classes all morning. In one of the classes, we were discussing customary greetings in various cultures, and I was explaining that in the U.S. friends don’t often kiss each other’s cheeks. We talked about where this might be more common, how they greet each other here, etc. One boy towards the front looked very confused. Then the proverbial lightbulb appeared over his head, and he exclaimed, “Oh! Cheek! I thought you were talking about kissing chickens.” I try never to laugh students. At that point I failed miserably.
(And finally, this article talks about political malaise in Ukraine. Worth reading.)