remind us to be brave reflection

Remind Us How To Be Brave: Poetry From Rosemerry Trommer

Remind Us How To Be Brave:

I discovered these beautiful words to remind us how to be brave on A First Sip.  After this week, the uprising in hate group empowerment, the reactions of our president, and the murder of an innocent woman, many of us are struggling with how to be brave. What does it mean to stand up, to use our voice? How do we speak out against the unspeakable? How do we go back to school, to classrooms, next week and use our position to help kids understand and process and learn to love?

I struggle, as do so many, with the answers to these questions. I wrote about my initial reaction to the hate in Charlottesville here. I hope this poetry and my words not only remind us how to be brave but helps us ACT out our bravery.

One of my most often used reminders in my classroom is that stepping out of our comfort zone is where the magic happens. As an introvert, I find this practice exhausting. I know I need to push myself and others forward, to remind myself of the need for solitude, and to gather momentum from taking risks and being adventurous. That’s one reason I travel to Nicaragua, one reason I write, and one reason I think amazing things happen in my classroom.

remind us to be brave church
Ciudad Dario, Nicaragua

But at the end of the day, I’m weary. I’m spent and retreat into solace. I release the demands into the soil of my garden or the sauces simmering on my stove. I walk in meditation, stopping to notice the bloom beside me or the reflection on the water.

remind us to be brave reflection
Lake Tahoe reflection

To remind us how to be brave, we must slip out of the world we know and into the world of quiet contemplation.

remind us to be brave garden quiet
A quiet moment in my garden.

I hope you enjoy this peaceful poem by Rosemerry Trommer – and remember you have all the power you need right inside.

When her voice is weary
it means it is time to listen.

When her armor is heavy,
it means it is time to be soft,

time to slip out of her certainty
and her battle songs,

time to retreat from the lines
she has drawn, time to unknow

the world she thinks she knows
and to find herself in the world

that knows her. She lets the darkness
penetrate her, it caresses

her universal curves. Her quiet
joins her to an infinite quiet—

she is everything, nothing at once.
She relearns how vulnerability

transforms us in ways
ferocity can not.

She is her own fertile seed.
She is her own desert rain.

She’s her own cocoon, her own inner cave.
Sometimes it takes the darkness

to remind us how to be brave.

~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Words are the spark that ignites my soul. I am a collector of language in all forms, believing the extraordinary beauty of the written word must be shared.

These monthly posts, inspired by another’s words, are my gifts of beauty and spirit, shared with love.

xoxo, Jennifer

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Nicaragua non profit

Nicaragua Non-Profit: A Chance To Make A Difference

Nicaragua Non-Profit:

A Chance To Make A Difference

In July, my son and I will be returning to Nicaragua to work with the non-profit group, Seeds of Learning, to help restore the country’s educational system. Since 2010 my family has been traveling to Nicaragua to work, teach, and share cultures through the SOL program – you can read more about them here on their website: http://www.seedsoflearning.org/. These photos are from our 2013 trip. 

Nicaragua non-profit
All building is done with the most primitive of methods for the Nicaragua non-profit. School site in Casas Viejas, where we mixed concrete by hand, tied our own rebar and dug the foundation with shovels.

You can read about my two previous trips in these posts:

The Pull of Nicaragua

Travel with mamawolfe: The Simple Life in Nicaragua

Travel with mamawolfe: Cementing Friendships in Nicaragua

Nicaragua Packing Party

Nicaragua: The Countdown Begins

Injustice All Around Us: Seeds of Learning in Nicaragua

No Shoes In Nicaragua

Nicaragua non-profit
Seeds of Learning also runs satellite learning centers for after school enrichment. My daughter loved spending time doing crafts with the students.
Nicaragua non-profit
The entire community helps build their school – even the youngest and oldest find ways to help out.

 

As you can see from my posts, our work in Nicaragua is not only life-changing for myself and my children, but for the Nicaraguans trying to rebuild their country.

Nicaragua non-profit
Kids and adults work together, strengthening the cultural connections.

 

Nicaragua non-profit
This project was building an addition onto an already existing school.

 

This year, a teaching colleague and I will be bringing along a dozen teenagers and a few adults for two weeks to help build a new school near Ciudad Dario. As Seeds of Learning is a non-profit, it relies exclusively on donations to do their good work. Even though many of you have not been able to travel with us, your generosity in the past has enabled us to build two schools, work in learning centers, and create positive global connections. For this trip, I am asking you to consider supporting our project with monetary or supply donations – all are tax deductible.

Monetary donations can be made on the Seeds of Learning website: https://www.seedsoflearning.org/ways-to-give/donate-now/.  Please indicate “Wolfe” in the notes. My Facebook page also has a link for PayPal donations: https://www.facebook.com/mamawolfe/.

Thank you for considering helping us with this project. We believe that together, we can do great things to strengthen our global community. You won’t regret supporting Seeds of Learning, a Nicaragua non-profit – it’s people like them who make a real difference in our world.

Love,

Jennifer

ps- if you’re interested in actually traveling to Nicaragua to get hands-on, please contact me. I’d love to take a group again next year! 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Indonesia shopping

Teaching In Indonesia: What’s Similar And Different To The U.S.

*This is an update of posts chronicling my teaching in Jakarta, Indonesia, during Ramadan. As part of the U.S. State Department of Education’s IREX program, 10 teachers and I spent two weeks traveling, teaching, and creating friendships with Indonesian students. This trip was life-changing for me as a woman and a teacher; so many stereotypes of the Muslim religion and Ramadan were altered due to my ability to meet the Indonesian students, teachers, and families and observe what their daily life was like, what they valued, and how many similarities American and Indonesian teens share. I’d like to share some of my experiences traveling in a Muslim country during their most holy time. I’d love to hear your stories of international travel and how it has changed your world, too.
~Jennifer

 

Indonesia teaching highlighted similarities and differences to the United States. We began with an early teacher meeting at IMAN Cendekia School.  Asked to speak about green school and International Baccalaureate programs, we arrived to meet with a few interested teachers.  We’ve witnessed an attempt at recycling awareness on many campuses in the form of posters and some class assignments, but noticed an alarming absence of trash and recycling containers.  While the teachers asked many questions about our recycling programs, it soon became evident that their infrastructure problems with sanitation halt their progress.  We suggested that they don’t wait, but rather start teaching the children, ideally in primary grades, about how to reduce, reuse and recycle.  We’re hopeful that we can continue to provide them with examples through Skype or email when we return to the US.

Indonesia teacher
Indonesia teacher

The assistant principal, interestingly, changed the subject several times to ask us about the ‘Seattle Sound’ and bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana.  He also wanted to chat about American movies, wondering if our schools were like “Mean Girls”, and told us his favorite actors were Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks.  We continue to be amazed at what a dominant role American media plays in their beliefs about our country, and how often incorrect they really are.

Indonesia teaching

We were able to ask the teachers some of our essential questions and found that they believe that Indonesians are generally shy and don’t share their opinion, in fact, they will often go along with something they don’t agree with.  They have no word for love, and no polite way to be angry.  They believe that boys and girls are treated equally and that men are generally more polite.  They think their students need to study American history to know what are the best ways to run their country, so they choose to study the American Revolution, the Boston Tea Party, the Civil War, and Malcolm X.

Indonesia school
Indonesia school – students interested in recycling and Western culture.

The average wage of an Indonesian teacher is $100/month, and for $75/month they feel they can live well, although they may need to commute far for work.  Earning $200/month is considered middle class, enough for school, rent, food and little savings.  $10,000 will purchase a good house.  We found most items very inexpensive, especially food.

Traveling to Sekolah Tunas to visit a K-12 school provided a radically different glimpse into Indonesian education.  We were greeted by a British man, Mr. Paul, hired to be their resident native speaker.  The primary school children were adorable, full of questions like “do we go to rock concerts” and “would we like some chocolate milk”.  Their command of English was excellent   – due in large part from efforts to have students learn conversational English.

Observing on Friday meant students weren’t in uniform, making religious affiliation more difficult to discern.  These students looked so much like our American students; in fact, one young girl was excited to see a photo of my daughter wearing the same shirt!

Indonesia school concert
Indonesia school concert

We were treated to a traditional gamelan concert, questions and answers by the 10th-12th graders, student leadership tour guides, and a look at music and dance (modern and traditional) electives.  As this is a private school, students pay a fee to attend between the hours of 7:30 – 4.

We spent our afternoon taking the train to a 13-story wholesale shopping center.  Interestingly, Indonesian trains have pink and purple cars for women only, created in response to protect them from sexual harassment.

Jakarta shopping
Jakarta shopping

Exiting the train took us into what our guide called ‘real Jakarta’, and we couldn’t agree more.  This was by far the most crowded, dirty and lively section of town we have seen.  We entered an outside bazaar and began crisscrossing through the maze of vendor booths selling clothes, food, pets, shoes and household items.  The path was narrow and at times we wondered if we would make it to the mall.  We emerged into an open area where the men were just finishing their afternoon prayer.  As it ended, they picked up newspaper they knelt on and went on their way, and we entered the mall.

A teacher, Eva, met us there because she was deemed the best bargainer.  She proudly told us, ‘this is not comfortable for shopping, but comfortable on the wallet.’  And she was right-we spent the first hour in shock and amazement as she led us up escalators to the thirteenth floor, through labyrinthine paths to find the items we want and back out again.  When the mall closed at three we went upstairs to the mosque so our guides could pray, then back down to find a taxi.

Jakarta mosque
Jakarta mosque

Jakarta traffic is unlike any other city.  Buses and taxis have an easier time, especially when they drive up onto the curbs to scoot past the cars and motorbikes.   Although the train would be
faster, our guides felt it would be unsafe for us to utilize it during rush hour.  Two hours later we were happy to arrive at the hotel, break our fast and fall into bed.

Indonesia shopping
Indonesia shopping

Today I was reminded of the disparity between schools in Indonesia.  The difference between the strict, traditional religious education and the more modern structures is a perfect reflection of what I see happening in the country.  I’ve noticed a conflict between those who would like to stay true to their traditions and culture, and those who want to embrace modern living.  It feels like holding on too tightly to the past is causing problems with looking forward into the future; I’m hopeful the children can figure out a balance that will keep everyone happy.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Teens aren't all that different in Indonesia

Teaching Teenagers In Indonesia – They’re Not So Different From American Teens

*This is an update of posts chronicling my Teaching In Jakarta, Indonesia, During Ramadan. As part of the U.S. State Department of Education’s IREX program, 10 teachers and I spent two weeks traveling, teaching, and creating friendships with Indonesian students. This trip was life-changing for me as a woman and a teacher; so many stereotypes of the Muslim religion and Ramadan were altered due to my ability to meet the Indonesian students, teachers, and families and observe what their daily life was like, what they valued, and how many similarities American and Indonesian teens share. As so many today are celebrating Ramadan, I’d like to share some of my experiences traveling in a Muslim country during their most holy time. I’d love to hear your stories of international travel and how it has changed your world, too.
~Jennifer

Sitting in my western style hotel room, sitting in a comfortable bed sipping coffee and watching CNN, I might think I’m at home in America.  Then I hear the faint strains of the morning prayers broadcast outside, and am instantly clear that outside this window is a completely different world than what I’m used to. Teaching teenagers in Indonesia is opening up my ways of thinking.

Indonesia
Indonesia city view

Systems in Indonesia

After only 76 hours in Indonesia, I’m beginning to understand some of the systems.  The Indonesian people are all about hospitality and helpfulness, even when they don’t speak my language.  I’m having a hard time learning Indonesian phrases – for some reason, they don’t hit my ear correctly and I cannot memorize even the simplest words. Teenagers in Indonesia aren’t really all that different than teens in America – but the schools are. Gender separation, strict uniforms, and forcing the teachers to move rooms instead of the students are unlike U.S. schools, but the goals and interests of Indonesian teens are amazingly similar.

Communicating in an Indonesian school.
Communicating in an Indonesian school.

 

What NOT to do in Indonesia

I’ve learned not to take photos in a grocery store, to use my hand in a downward flat palm position when I need to push through a crowd (personal space is very limited), and that cold Bintang beer tastes great after a day hanging out with a Komodo dragon in the 91-degree humid weather.

I’ve learned that teachers in Indonesia worry about many of the same things we do in the US – how to celebrate and teach diversity, how to engage students who are more interested in social media than school, and how to preserve their cultural identity, all on a salary of $150-$300/month.

Indonesian school project about climate change.
Indonesian school project about climate change.

Learning from each other

Today I begin teaching in a religious boarding school.  I’m hopeful that I make easy connections with the students and can understand what we can do to make our world a little bit better by working together.  I know the Indonesian people are as eager to learn from us as I am from them.

Teens aren't all that different in Indonesia
Teens aren’t all that different in Indonesia.
Teaching in Indonesia
Teaching in Indonesia.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Follow Me:
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Indonesian school

Teaching In Jakarta, Indonesia, During Ramadan

*This is an update of posts chronicling my teaching in Jakarta, Indonesia, during Ramadan. As part of the U.S. State Department of Education’s IREX program, 10 teachers and I spent two weeks traveling, teaching, and creating friendships with Indonesian students. This trip was life-changing for me as a woman and a teacher; so many stereotypes of the Muslim religion and Ramadan were altered due to my ability to meet the Indonesian students, teachers, and families and observe what their daily life was like, what they valued, and how many similarities American and Indonesian teens share. As today is the start of Ramadan, I’d like to share some of my experiences traveling in a Muslim country during their most holy time. I’d love to hear your stories of international travel and how it has changed your world, too.
~Jennifer
Arriving in Jakarta during Ramadan was really exciting – after three flights and countless hours of layovers and sitting upright, I was ready to explore.  The Indonesian language is difficult to decipher, so I followed the crowd to get bags, exchange money, and find our guide, Lilia.
Indonesia

I had heard about the infamous Jakarta traffic and prepared for the 36 km, nearly two-hour drive from the airport to the hotel.  Indonesia is 14 hours ahead of California, so we essentially missed Wednesday and arrived on Thursday.

Indonesian breakfast
Indonesian breakfast

After an interesting breakfast – Indonesians eat rice at every meal, as well as meats and seafood – we headed off to our guide’s public school – SMP 49 in east Jakarta. During Ramadan I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat or drink much, so I fueled up!
Indonesia

As we drove into the school, we were greeted by students hanging over the railings and the teachers and administrator in the parking lot.  We were surprised to learn that it was a school holiday for the start of Ramadan, yet the students and teachers came to school anyways just to meet us.  They made us feel like celebrities as we exited our bus!

Ramadan
Indonesia school

 We began with a faculty meeting to discuss global education and get to know each other.  It was interesting that the principal began and ended the meeting with prayers. Indonesia

We spent the next hour working in classrooms.  To our surprise, the English teacher wanted us to teach his students, so we launched into a discussion about our schools, families, and culture of America.  Notice the uniforms in this 8th grade English classroom – especially the sneakers!  My partner, Amy, is from Chico, California, and we had prepared a Prezi on her iPad which really came in handy.

The classrooms were sparsely decorated and moderately air conditioned.  Students here test into the school, so they are considered high-achieving.  They are extremely fluent in English, although some are reluctant to speak.  It was interesting to me that a student leader rose when we entered, then asked the rest of the class to do the same.  They greeted us, said a prayer, then took their seats.
Indonesian school
Indonesian school
They are fascinated with American teens and really loved hearing about our own kids and students.  They said they love Twitter and American movies!
Everywhere we went and everything we did they documented with video and photos – the teachers are so eager to learn about what American classrooms are like and how we teach.  I was impressed with the emphasis on behavior and respect, as evidenced by signs all around the school.

I was touched by how delighted the school was with our visit, and how honored and respected they made us feel.  I really think that these students and teachers have so much in common with us in the US – they want to learn, improve and have great hope for their futures. We left with happy hearts and new connections to help us learn to be better global citizens.

Typical meal at Ramadan breaking the fast
Typical meal at Ramadan breaking the fast

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Follow Me:
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