Monday, February 27, 2006

Student freestyling at Bayan School. Posted by Picasa

Bayan students singing the Japanese national anthem. Posted by Picasa

Bayan student reading poem. Posted by Picasa

Bayan School Bahrain

I have so many images in my head from our visit to Bahrain, it is difficult to get them all down. First, the plane flew directly over Baghdad on our way south from London. The night was totally clear and I studied the lights to see if I could see the airport where Brian's brother is stationed, but it was hard to tell. The plane proceeded on to sunny Bahrain.

The first day there, Michael and I visited the Bayan School. It is a throbbing place, a bi-lingual school. Our introduction was watching the lower school practice the Japanese anthem for an exchange program that they are participating in. The song lifted and soared sending peaceful messages into the universe.

Next Michael and I both visited classrooms and at the end of the day, students read their poems aloud in a poetry jam to loads of applause and nodding admiration from their teachers and peers. Below are some images from our visit.

We were so struck by the fact that we never see images of students from the middle east on television in the US unless they they are doing hateful things. I felt honored to be welcomed into classrooms in Bahrain and to meet the bright, friendly and respectful students there. I think many of the world's problems could be lessened by more classroom exchanges where we view one another in terms of commonalities instead of differences.

For instance: The words "kids, please take out a piece of paper," is a discussion starter in any language and students everywhere like to express themselves through poetry and exchange their thoughts with one another. I will never forget my time at the Bayan School.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Raining in London

Who would have guessed it. Michael and I are off on our grand adventure. First we stopped over here for fish and chips (me) and mash (Michael). We also had to off load some luggage before we leave for Bahrain for the Arabian Reading Conference. We are so excited that we have almost forgotten how exhausted we are -- and the trip and turn around is just beginning. Time to go to the gate and off into a world neither one of us has ever experienced. Wow.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dreams -- Alive and well

Last night was such fun -- Michael and I went down to Cleveland Playhouse Square to coach and nurture young poetry slammers who will be competing in the city-side competition to choose the 5 lucky poets who will be part of the team that is sent to the National competition in NYC in April. So many words, so many dreams brought to the stage. In total deviance of their right to privacy, the teen poets laid out their views on everything from thugs to school levys and loneliness. I want them all to win the slam, but even if they don't each has achieved a personal victory I would have shied away from at their age. I was so impressed.

Afterwards I watched the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. It was grand. The best part was watching the countries who had one, two or three athletes come striding into the stadium. Knowing that many of the teams come without the endorsement of McDonald's or Nike, that they have scrimped and begged to get there, you could see victory in their eyes.

Langston made us all look at where dreams go to die, but where do they get born? What makes some push hard for their dreams and others shy away?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

two months later

Could that be? I haven't written here in two months? The holidays came and went in a complete blur -- Michael and I were working non-stop on our new book for Heinemann (Outspoken, fall 2006) and beside family times, we were in such a rush. We had fulfilling, inspiring visits to Eastlake Middle School and Bay Village Middle School to gather our student samples. Thanks to everyone.

I'm just now remembering why I haven't checked in here for a while -- it is because I have so many things to write about that it seems overwhelming. But I have to try and get my blog back on track -- along with the rest of things. I feel as if I just got out of a cast having shipped that book out. Whew.

Little story from yesterday. Michael and I went to Kaiser for immunizations to prepare for our trip overseas and met a fellow and his wife -- he is 88 and she is 84. They go to Kaiser to the large waiting area everyday to walk (she is mostly in a wheelchair). He is a retired cartoonist and was with the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 30 years. They wander around and chat with people and when they see a child waiting for the doctor, he draws the child's picture. Charming and chatty, but not bothersome in the least.

Oh, and I am learning to swim. Yep. After all these years. Oh, I could swim to the side of the pool, but I could never get the breathing right to swim laps. Well, I think I got it. I can swim 500 yards in 35 minutes and it is my goal to complete that in 20 minutes by this summer.

That's all for now. I will do more catch up later.