Friday, December 21, 2012

Finding Christmas Spirit

Volumes have been written about  the excited-for Christmas expectations not meeting the reality-based Christmas actualities. So far this year is a poster year for anticipated vs. actual including, but not limited to, travel-preventing snowboarding accidents and travel-delaying absence of airplanes. Add to those problems the idea of working in a country that does not celebrate the Christmas I've grown up with or honor the traditional one-week "holiday" between Christmas and New Years and it takes some extra effort to stay "jolly."

I've been trying to keep my spirits up including exercise, eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and looking for  Christmas cheer in different places. Someday it's hard to find but today it showed up in a very unexpected 9th grade class. Here's the background...

About two weeks ago our department head informed us that the English department plans a New Year's party for all the high school students. This includes some songs and games, Santa Claus, a Christmas tree (yep, they call it that), and gifts... I'm not sure about food. Anyway, I volunteered to get a group of students together to sing a song (easy and appropriate considering my experience in the States..) Anyway, I  thought I could teach the 12 Days of Christmas and we could even use the song for an English lesson where students could write their own modern version....But, then I got nervous..I've been teaching young students and I wasn't sure if the older ones would want to stand on the stage, wave silly posters around, and...even more importantly...sing.. We'd had a "run-though" in class and it went OK. Most everyone either sang or pretended to sing. And, like most students, they seemed pretty willing (eager is more like it) to take a class period, head to the performance hall and practice.

Upon arrival on the stage -  my first time there - we were greeted with not one, not two, but probably 9 live microphones. Once I saw the students fighting to be "live" and be "heard", I knew there would be no problem. Most of them are "hams" (interesting pun that popped into my head) O I knew there would be no problem.

I would also thrilled to see a real piano! I had planned on accapello but the sight of a piano was another Christmas present. Thank goodness playing the 12 Days of Christmas is like riding a bicycle. Practice is not necessary. Anyway,  I gave a loud, peppy introduction and the students launched into the song. They were amazing...their loud, joyful, silly, English-with-Turkish-accent voices filled the concert hall...and they gave so much "spirit" and "joy" to a tradition that is not even part of their "culture" that I almost forgot where I was. We had a blast and I was filled with Christmas spirit.

By the way, these students also wrote some great lyrics with their friends. One of the funniest, albeit inappropriate, was the group who wrote On the of Christmas my principal gave to me...and then they listed all the things they can't have at school including: shots of tequila  make-up, painted nails, short skirts, and no homework.

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