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Showing posts from December, 2011

One Down...!

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My first semester at South Texas College has come to a close, and it has been a wonderful time. Some of you will remember how this teaching position came about, and the miracle continues!

I started out this semester with around 102 students in five classes...and ended up with some 88 students. Some moved to other sections, some withdrew from classes due to family or financial issues...and some just disappeared! That's how it is in college...so we just roll with it.

Many of my students here could be classified as "second language" students. In all of these classes, I had only three "gringo" students and the rest were all Latino. I believe we've mentioned before that the Rio Grande Valley is about 92% Latino...and I certainly saw that in my classes. Because so many of them do struggle with second language issues, I was able to bring into the classrooms here the very techniques, methods and 'tricks' that I used with my students at the Teachers…

Reason for the Season?

I love this time of the year. I don’t love the stores and malls and other places where people pack together to fight over sale items, or yell at their children as patience and dollars run out. I don’t love the radio stations that play back to back to back Christmas songs with all the mixed messages—“Joy to the World!” followed by “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” No, these are not the things I love. I love going to church…and today did not disappoint. As we began the time of worship together, I looked down at the bulletin and saw those words we often see and hear this time of year around God’s people—“Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” And, frankly, in this first Christmas living in the US after having lived almost seven years in Latin America, I have seen how much Christmas has become so commercialized, even de-Christianized. We hear it in the tepid and tasteless “Happy Holidays!” as we enter Wal-Mart. The quiet rebel in me responds quite purposefully, “Thank you…and Merry Chr…

A Christmas to Remember…and Share

Our family arrived in Guyana in 1969…and Christmas was soon upon us. At the time, the government was of the hard-lined socialist flavor, and they had severely limited any imports. As a result, Christmas trees as we know them were fairly non-existent. My parents, however, were determined to maintain some of our American traditions and practices in our home, so they made sure we had Christmas—one way or another. That first tree is burned forever into our memories. The government did have some sort of Christmas tree factory…and they did the best they could, I suppose, with the limited resources they had at the time. Basically, the tree was a modified broomstick…about three-and-a-half-feet tall, planted in a music box base that revolved and played a cheesy, plinky popular Christmas tune. The branches were little more than long bottle washers, spray-painted green. The whole tree had probably 20 of these branches…and they didn’t begin to hide the bare broomstick trunk. We had brought some …

Can It Get Any Better??

I don’t want my kids to have a better life than mine. Oh, don’t hear me wrong—it’s not that I wish ill on my children. The truth is, I don’t think there IS a better life than the one I’m living now. My wife and I have a really good life…and I don’t know how it could get any better. Yet, I hear from so many around me that they still want that ‘better life’ for their children…but can we really expect life to get better and better and better? Is a better life a bigger house? If our houses in America get any bigger, we’ll have to start calling them biospheres! I don’t wish a bigger house on my kids—the taxes, upkeep and cleaning are plenty, thank you, for our 1200 sq.ft. home. And, besides, in four or five years, all our kids will be grown and gone…and this house will suddenly seem big and empty for just the two of us. Then…more toys?? I’ve seen the children who have been given copious amounts of toys, more than you or I ever received in our childhood. And, the result? Usually messy ho…