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Archive for August, 2005

2 Months In…

It’s been almost two months and Alex and I are starting to feel quite settled in to life in KL. Everything continues to be absolutely wonderful: the food, the weather, the people, the shopping and the school. We’re having a great time!

We have been so busy over the last few weeks. School started on the 8th of August, we had friends visit (all the way from Italy!) on the 14th, Alex’s 30th(!) birthday on the 18th, Alex’s first days substituting last week, and our first sikh wedding yesterday. It’s been quite a month!

Right now we’re enjoying sunny blue skies with lovely white fluffy clouds and cool breezes. Alex and I have been swimming in our pool almost every day, and we’re usually the only ones there! We had two days of haze during the first week of school, which was crazy. But, school was closed for both days so it wasn’t all bad 🙂 Since then the weather has been pretty consistent. Usually some heavy rain late at night, and clear skies during the day. I am definitely meant to live in a warm climate. Alex has been sweating out every calorie he consumes almost continuously, but I’m loving it!

We took our fantastic guests out to the rain-forest at the Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia a few weeks ago to go on a canopy walk. What an experience! We hiked high up into the rain-forest and then walked across at the tree-top level. We were about 150 feet off the ground on these narrow narrow planks of wood. Sheer drops below us to the ground. Great views of the city and the rest of the forest. It was truly amazing. After the hike we were able to see a different area of the forest where you can look straight up into the canopy. It was so high! When the wind blew and the trees swayed it was amazing! Apparently, it is a spot pictured many times in National Geographic. I took my own little selection of NG photos too 🙂

Yesterday we went to the sikh wedding. One of the teachers at school married a Malaysian sikh, and they very generously invited everyone from MKIS! Since we were invited to this awesome wedding, we figured we would dress appropriately. So, almost all of the ex-pats attending the wedding went out shopping to “Little India” downtown last week to buy traditional clothes for the events. For the ceremony we needed a Punjabi suit, which is the long shirt with loose pants underneath and a scarf. There were so many to choose from! All colors and styles. And since it was a wedding, we were supposed to have colorful and beaded fabric. I ended up having my suit made for me since I found the perfect (hot pink!) fabric (and it’s so cheap). Alex even got his own Punjabi suit. He was resisting for a while, but he was so excited to wear a turban, that I was able to convince him. Since we were so last minute preparing ourselves for the wedding, we didn’t actually have anyone to help us tie Alex’s turban. So, the night before the wedding, he spent about 20 minutes researching online and came out and did it himself. He did a damn good job too! He was the hit of the ceremony. The only Western man with full Punjabi gear and a self-tied turban. Alex is one resourceful fellow.

Anyway, back to the wedding. The bride, Rene, arranged a bus to drive us to the ceremony in the morning. Once we arrived, we had to take off our shoes, and cover our heads to go inside the temple. There were about 200 people inside, all sitting on the floor. The room was split with women on the left, men on the right. The ceremony was beautiful. There was lots of beautiful singing and chanting. Everything was explained in English as well, so we could all follow along. It was so amazing to be able to attend such a different type of wedding ceremony.

Between the ceremony and the reception, we had about 5 hours to take a nap and get ready for the evening. Since we had to be more conservative for the ceremony in the temple, we were encouraged to be more exotic at night. So, I also bought a saree. You may not know, but a saree is just about 6 meters of gorgeous fabric you wrap around your body. There are no pins or buttons to hold anything on. You just wrap and tuck, wrap and tuck. It took a good 45 minutes to get myself all tucked in properly. But it looked great! It was so fun to get all dressed up! I had on tons of makeup along with my nose-ring and bindi. Alex kept calling me an Indian princess. I loved it!

The reception was huge! It was held in a gym in a local school. Sounds tacky, I know, but it wasn’t. It was probably the only place around where you could have 700 people in one room for dinner. The whole reception was quite theatrical. There was an announcer (think of the WWF wrestling announcer, and put him in a wedding), a multitude of singers, dancers and other performers. Dinner even came out of the kitchen on flaming platters. It was more like being at a musical than a wedding. It definitely kept us entertained. Plus, the free food and alcohol (which is so expensive in Malaysia) didn’t hurt. We were there for about 7 hours. I think we heard every popular Punjabi song that exists. It was loads of fun.

It is so awesome to really feel part of a community here. The school is so friendly and open. The teachers are so nice, and everyone is so welcoming. We really felt comfortable right away.

So far school is fantastic. We have a block schedule which means that there are 4 85 minute periods a day. Every other day I teach 2 (out of 4) lessons, and the other days I teach 3 (out of 4 lessons). I have a total of 5 different classes and about 60 students. I get to see all of my classes every other day. None of my classes are over 16 students. In fact, I only have 1 class that large. All of the others are 10 students and under. The kids are phenomenal! They are so polite, eager to learn, and helpful. No matter what I ask them to do, they are so excited and enthusiastic. The student population is truly international with our “largest majority” being Korean at 11%. The next “largest” is (interestingly) Swedish at 8%. It’s refreshing to have a real mix of students in all my classes. Everyone speaks English all the time and they all actually seem to get along. Last week I had my 8th graders do a brainstorm about their life, including their friends, so they could take pictures to make an iMovie slideshow. All of the kids were so concerned because they wanted to make sure they had a picture of every person in the grade, since they are friends with everyone. How sweet are they?!

As you might have guessed, I’m loving working with the Macs. We can do so much, so quickly since we have the right equipment. I’ve already got my students making movies and we’re going to start making music as soon as I figure out how to use Garage Band 🙂 We have an absolutely amazing IT Education Coordinator here who really knows his stuff about IT in education. Even though we’ve only been a department for a few weeks, we’ve already realized we all have the same goals and ideals for technology in education. Looks like I’ll be starting another integration program here next year 🙂

Overall, things are going so well we can barely believe it ourselves. Every day we say to each other how happy we are here in Malaysia. We love our new adventure! Come visit so you can see how great it is here!

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