Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Wizard of Oz Kids

My Level 2 Kids

On Monday afternoon we greeted our first campers, two groups of 5th graders from Grenoble. One group was from an international school, so we had a good amount of ex-pat kids who spoke perfect English. Like Andrew, our kids had to first pick new American names from a pre-approved list. Let me say that the list wasn't pre-approved by me, and maybe it should have been, because we got in trouble later for naming kids "Skidmark" and "Redneck." I find it especially mean when the kid has no idea what the name means but the counselors let him/her choose it anyway. After getting a "passport" with their new name, and their new surname, which matches our theme of the week, Wizard of Oz, (either Dorothy, Tinman, Lion, Wicked Witch, or Lolli Midgets) the kids converted their money into US Dollars to purchase items at the General Store (Oreos! Dr. Pepper!) and then they passed through customs where I searched their bags for candy and electronics. After customs, students were escorted to their state and city (the state being the bedroom, like California, and the city being their bunk bed, like Sacramento).

Mola, who was so sweet, Chewbacca, who was a pain in the butt, and Mop Top, on whom I had a crush

Tuesday morning started with English class. I took the level 2 (5 being the highest level) kids, the biggest group, whom nobody wanted. I loved them! They were polite, respectful, participatory, even if they didn't speak a lot of English. That's one thing I don't like about the counselors; they don't know how to communicate with the kids, so they complain and call them stupid. Geez, how much Spanish/French/German did they know when they were 10 and had only been studying another language for one year??? All the other counselors fought over who got to have the bilingual kids, because they wanted to be able to "talk" to their students. I can tell you, I had great conversations with my kids, and I'm positive they understood 90% of what I said, because I used simple language, repeated a lot, and spoke slowly. The other counselors just talk like they're speaking to other Americans, no one what level they are teaching. My kids were really cute. I had Bam Bam, Mercedes, Mola, Strawny, Chocolate Starfish, Otis, Bob, Ding Dong, Schappelle, Crabby, Pepper, Chewbacca and Gizmo. For the first day, we discovered America by finding their states on a map and learning the Pledge of Allegiance.

Strawny, who was so cute I wanted to adopt him

The second day of classes, Wednesday, was Earth Day and we played Bingo, made recycling posters and learned a recycling song, which my kids performed for the whole school. Thursday was Hit Music Day, so they listened to songs by Michael Jackson, Madonna, Britney Spears, and Elvis Presley. They then had to write a desription of each artist and everyone else had to guess to whom it referred. They also created their own bands and designed album covers. The last day was Graduation Day and the kids designed their own caps.

Overall it was a fun experience, though I *hate* doing cheers and songs. The cheers don't even make a lot of sense, and the kids are bored by them. The skits are fun, though being a newbie meanes that the oldies all jump on the prime roles and don't explain the skit before making me choose my part in it. A typical planning meeting goes like this:

Counselor 1: Let's do the Captain Planet skit!
Me: (Huh?)
Counselor 2: I'll be the Stinker!
Counselor 3: I'll be the dolphin!
Me: What's the skit about????

So I either don't get to do anything or I get the sucky roles.

After saying a tearful goodbye to our kids, the counselors all left town, some going camping, some to Grenoble, and the rest of us to Lyon. Being the only French speaker in our group of five, I handled all train, bus, and metro tickets, all hotel reservations and restaurant orders, I played tour guide, negociated hitchhiking rides, and spent a lot of time helping with random things, like helping Ivy exchange her train tickets and finding soup for Fuzzy. I didn't mind so much, and the others were definitely appreciative, but it did mean that I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to in Lyon (buy new shoes, visit St. Jean, go to the supermarket, etc.) because anytime I suggested we split up, everyone panicked a little. Still, it was nice to be in Lyon again, though it was a long day and required a lot more hitchhiking than I was comfortable with. 9 out of 10 times we rode with really nice people, but of course it was always up to me to make conversation, and the last ride of the day which we got from someone we actually knew (this guy at the nearby bar) was really creepy and I made him stop the car and let us out because I didn't like the vibe he was sending. It wasn't a great situation, and I'm really grateful my friends weren't alone, because they wouldn't have understood what was happening and I'm so glad I took those self-defense classes; if nothing else it taught me to be firm even if I felt I was being rude. The guy was really pissed that we got out of the car, and followed us for a while trying to get us back in the car, but I stayed calm and told him to go away, which he eventually did. I can't wait until Andrew gets here. Then I won't feel so alone.

We have a three day weekend because Monday is some sort of holiday, so we're relaxing at camp and enjoying the beautiful weather. Our next group of kids come on Tuesday, and I'm excited to meet them!

1 comment:

  1. Your group definitely needs new names. Here are some names I would suggest: Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy and Sneezy. Alternatives: Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter.