Fog of Teaching

Commentary from a High School American History teacher

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm still alive

Hey if there is anyone out there who is still paying attention I am still alive and teaching. I have given my presentation on Saudi Arabia to nearly 500 people. I feel like I have taught many valuable lessons and opened the eyes of many. I am enjoying teaching American Studies as well and seem to have new adventures every day. I hope everyone has a great holiday season!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My apologies

If you have wondered what happened to the blog it still exists. I just haven't been posting. Today I am home from school with a vocal chord infection and realized that I should put some more photos on the site. I think I have been having a hard time writing about Saudi because I miss it so much. Being back at school I have become engrossed in teaching again and haven't been taking time to reflect on things. The end of the school year is always so crazy. I feel like I still have so much left to teach, and I have really enjoyed my students this year. The adjustment from Granite has been hard. I feel like I have been separated from my family but what can you do? Because it is nearly the end of my first year here I think I am getting the gist of things and have met some wonderful people. Anyway I am starting to babble. Here are some cool Saudi photos.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Spare Time

Spare time has been one of the things I haven't had much of lately. We run on a tight schedule and tonight should be my first night with more than five hours of sleep. I have so much to tell all of you but don't know where to begin, so I will answer your questions first. Yes I did milk a camel. One of our guides has family that own a camel farm. Family is extremely important here. The camels are treated very well, no one rides them, There were so many camels and we could walk right up to them. They are interesting and can be very nice. I never saw one of them spit. To milk them they bring out a baby camel to start milking, and then they take it away and then you can milk the camel. It felt strange but really cool. I got some of the milk on my hand and so I tasted a bit of it. It was sweet and is supposed to have more calcum than any other kind of milk. But I didn't really drink it I just kind of licked my hand. After we had coffee with cardamom, (every meal starts with it), in a bedouin tent. They put big rugs out in the sand and we also ate dates. We eat a lot of dates here.The sun had set and we could see the men praying in the sunset, it was so beautiful. We sat around a fire for a while, and then our guide took us back to our bus by scaring the crap out of us with his four wheeling techniques. It was so fun.

Every day is better than the last, and I have made some true friends here. There are so many things to say about the politics and the culture, but all it comes down to is this... We are all the same. In our own ways we face the same struggles and triumphs, sorrows and joys. There are good and bad people in all societies. Here I have fond many kindred spirits who feel as I do and it is amazing that I have found this on the other side of the world. It is always hard leaving our guides as we move to the next city. Khalid is the one who took us to the camels,but we also spent time in the desert which looks so much like home.

I have been in Jeddah, the city by the Red Sea, and it has been amazing. Each region of the country has its own character. Jeddah is by the sea and there are large art instalations everywhere. Women here don't hardly ever wear the full veil, and many don't even cover their heads. I know you probably have a lot of questions about this, but my opinion changes every day. My abaya is beautiful and I love it. After wearing it for days, always in public, it was strange when we went to a resort last night and could take it off. I felt naked. I have a really hard time keeping my headscarf on, but for the most part we don't have to wear them. Where I am in Riyadh today we do. Things are more traditional here and many women wear the full veil. So much of the viel and abaya has to do with culture and not religion, I guess I will have to write a paper about it when I get back.

Today we went back to the Red Sea resort. Last night we had amazing music and folk dancing by the sea, and of course another huge meal. Mon and Dad you will be hapy because I have put on some pounds. They feed us so well and everything tastes so good. I have been drinking lots of strawberry juice, and all of the orange juice is fresh squeezed. Today I swam in the Red Sea and it was beautiful. The water was cold at first, but it felt so good at 9:00 in the morning. I also did some snorkeling and saw beautiful fish. I hope I haven't eaten any of the kind I saw today. Of course I am sunburned, even though it was early in the day and we left before noon. I have a bit of a cold, but that is my fault. I did somethng crazy the other night at another traditional dinner. What was it? There are no drugs or alcohol here.....I smoked a Hooka pipe. IThey call it shisha and I didn't exactly at the time understand what it was. It ended up being apple flavored tobacco. So I can now say that I have smoked (sorry mom). It doesn't make you feel wierd or anything, it just tastes nice. But now my lungs are very unhappy with me!!

Right now I am in my hotel room in Riydah. You wouldn't believe this place, I thought the Hilton we stayed at was nice but wow this is amazing. I swear I am telling the truth, I actually have my own butler. His name is Hossam and he gets my laundry cleaned, wakes me up, and gets me whatever I need. He even offered to escort me to the mall to get aloe vera for my sunburn. Here in Riyadh I can't go out alone, I have to have a guardian with me. Anyway this place is beautiful. there were slippers by my bed, and I took a long hot shower.

Well I am so tired, and I get to sleep in until 7:00 tomorrow. Hopefully my room service will come soon, by the way I can order whatever I want. I don't think I will ever be able to travel any other way again. I hope you are are well. I miss you and will download more pictures soon.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007



Wow I have no idea of what day it is. Today is Tuesday but here the weekend is on Thursday and Friday o today is kind of like Thursday. We have been on such a tight schedule that this is really the first down time we have had during the day. I am overwhelmed by everything that I am learning. This morning we have been at Effat College which is a university for women. All of the women here are so intelligent. Many have been educated in the U.S. or the U.K. and so they don't have a lot of questions about us but we have a lot about them. We usually eat our meals with our hosts or local people and they are great about letting us ask questions. Effat college was amazing, but they are only able to accomodate so many students. This place is a mixture of culture and religion and tradition, and people want things to change but it is slow. Women re making many advancements. I learned today that more women graduate from college in the kingdom than men but once they graduate there aren't jobs for them. The women are working very hard to change that. We also visited the Jeddah chamber of commerce and the women's chamber of commerce there. It has been in operation for 5 years. the men in Jeddah are very supportive of it. Women wanted to be able to be elected to the board and were able to. The board has two elected females and two appointed females. Their goal is to remove the obstacles facing women. One reason they have been able to do what they Are doing because of the Royal Decree 120. It basically says that women need to participate in the economy. King Abdullah has made many changes for women. Women are 49.4% of the population and 1/2 of the country's population is under 20 years old. 30%of the Saudi population supports 70% of the population. Total population is 16.834 million people. There are so many other things I have learned and I hope that I can come back and teach everyone.

Yesterday was the best though. The camel farm was amazing and I will try to post some pictures for you.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Miracles do happen

Finally I am able to post. I would like to apologize to those of you who have checked only to find nothing new. I have had internet issues but have obviously resolved them. I am in Jedda Saudi Arabia and am exhausted. It is 2:45 am and I need to go to bed, but I wanted you to know that I am safe and meeting lots of interesting people. I even milked a camel today!!

Love all of you,


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Twice in one day

I have been sitting in a dark room full of computers all day. I have learned to edit sound, and to podcast. Make sure you visit next week so that you can see my super duper podcast. It will have sound and everything.

I hope my students haven't destroyed my room while I was away. I am sure things went fine. I hope. My biggest fear is that the sub pulled a muscle doing pantomime for the esl kids and I find her trapped behind my desk in the morning. Maybe Harley the custodian will find her before I do.

The Fog is Rolling In

Welcome to Fog of Teaching. I am a high school American Studies teacher in Salt lake City Utah. Today I am away from my classroom learning about how to blog. Hooray, today at school we are doing standardized test makeups. By the time the kids actually get to my classes their little brains might be fried. I am sure everyone understands how important these tests are. Of course if you don't pass your life might end. I hate these tests. They devalue the educational process for the students.

I am a bit nervous about leaving them with a sub, especially my ESL American History class. They are learning about colonial America and I highly doubt the sub will be as willing as I am to do pantomime.