28 February 2010

In the End It Will Be Known

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I teach my favorite students -- all 4 of them.  This class is Academic 1, but I had these 4 students (plus 2 others, who sadly couldn't continue due to schedule conflicts) last session in Business 2, and 3 of them the session before that, in Business 1.  I absolutely adore these guys, and not just because we've been together since September -- they are hilarious and kind, hard-workers and engaged learners, and take me seriously (but not too seriously).  Basically, I can't imagine a set of students more baller than this.  When my American boss was doing site visits in November and observed one of our Business 2 classes, she said it was one of the best EFL classes she'd ever observed on the Asian continent.  And as much as I would have liked to take credit, I had to admit that it was really all them.  Because it is, true fact.

This past Wednesday, the pre-determined syllabus dictated an "Extra Class," which happens at the end of every unit in this workbook and means I get to ditch the book for a day and do whatever I want.  "Extra class" is basically synonymous with "Game Day," so obviously it's everyone's favorite, and this week I decided to bust out an improvised version of one of my favorite board games from the States: Wise and Otherwise.  The game's catchphrase -- printed on the front of the box -- reads: "The game where the beginning is half the whole, everything with a crooked neck is not a camel, & in the end it will be known who ate the figs."  With a motto like that, how could this not be the greatest game ever?

If you are not a member of my immediate family, the unfortunate truth is that you are probably not familiar with Wise and Otherwise (nor will you fully grasp how awesome it is that I have now brought this game beyond our living room and into the classrooms of Indonesia).  It's a lot like the game Balderdash, and the premise is simple: written on hundreds of cards are the first halves of proverbs and sayings from all over the world.  The moderator picks one and reads it out loud, and each player must then write an original ending -- in effect, finish the proverb.  The moderator then gathers all these potential endings and reads them out loud, and everyone must guess which proverb they think is the real one. You get points for guessing the right answer, and also if people guess your ending as the right answer.  Bite-sized chunks of (sometimes truly comical) wisdom were never produced so readily, nor so enjoyably.

In my EFL version of this game, my students had to finish well-known English proverbs, and the results were by turns hilarious, clever, and totally lovely.  Some of the gems:

If you fall down seven times ... you are unlucky.

You can't kill two birds ... without trouble.

Home is where ... you spend your life.

One man's trash is ... a woman's trouble.

No man is ... nothing.  

The apple never falls ... in love.

I mean, come on.  Can you believe these guys?  Like I said, I have the ballerest students you will ever meet.

But on my token cheesy-ending note, this past Wednesday was probably one of the most enjoyable classes I've taught during my time in Indonesia, and it really is all thanks to those students.  Lately I've been in a bit of what I imagine is a half-time slump, feeling adrift in this experience and questioning what it is I'm really doing here, and it's on days like this when I remember the answer to that question.  After all, there's nothing like re-writing ancient pieces of English language wisdom with 4 amazing young Indonesian adults to shake away the mid-year blues.  Coming up on month 7 out of 12 here, half the whole has already passed, but I'm just holding out that in the end, it will be known that what I did here mattered.  I really hope so.  Whether or not we ever figure out who ate the figs. 

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