Monday, September 1, 2014

BC0914: Memory Lane

A walk down memory lane...fills me with nostalgia. Tonight I'm walking all the way back to 2007 when I had just arrived in South Korea.

I remember my first night alone in my apartment. The only furniture I had was my bed. I had no phone. No computer. No radio. No TV. The only thing to keep me company was the book I traveled with.

I remember the silence being deafening.

I didn't want to unpack my bag, thinking that I'll go directly to the airport the following day. The 20+hour flight was a waste of time. I wanted to be back in South Africa.

I was completely alone in a foreign land. What was I thinking? How could I live there for a year? A whole year?!

Anyway...I remember that moment as a smile forms on lips.

I've grown in leaps and bounds from that time. Korea was one of the biggest challenges I've faced. I had to cross many barriers, mainly language and culture.

The best thing it did was push me to my limits. We only know what we're capable of when we're thrown into the deep end!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

5 Minute Magic

I used to write using a timer in 20 minute sessions. When I wrote with students, I reduced it to 15 minutes...and then 10 minutes.

Recently, we've been writing in 5 minute sessions! That's 300 seconds.

Words that have been produced by students working with me have been nothing short of phenomenal!

I've called our Writing Group "Creative Sparks" because the words that come out of our sessions are like electricity.

...but why 5 minutes?

- People are lazy to read long texts.
- They have short concentration spans.
- Writing in a shorter time frame forces the writer to choose/use only the best words.

Quality over quantity.

As I said recently:
Use fewer words, and make those words powerful.

I'd like to add that Creative Sparks has helped me with MY writing. Thank you...my dearest "Sparks" :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Write what's in your heart

Today in Creative Sparks...
We wrote what was in our heart

(Written in 5mins)

Many people cross our path in life. They inspire, entertain, help, motivate...even hurt.

These people are our teachers, or as I like to call them, "angels of evolution."

I could write pages of the names of people who have come into my life. I will remember some of them fondly or with heartache. 

Some of them have lifted me to heights I cannot explain. Others have crushed my heart to pieces. Leaving me as if I walk barefoot on tiny pieces of glass.

Nevertheless, if it weren't for these "angels of evolution", I know - as I know my name- that I would not be who I am today if it were not for them. 

So, for the laughter, love and pain...

...all I say is, "Thank you"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"You taught me more than English"

From Google Images
From Google Images

Hailed by Time Magazine (Europe) as one of the "10 Best Movies of the Year 2005" from around the globe, Black is an Indian drama film about a blind and deaf girl, Michelle McNally. A prisoner of darkness, which is the only world she knows, Michelle grows up to be a violent and uncontrollable eight-year-old child. As the saying goes, "There is always light at the end of the tunnel" and for Michelle, it was in the form of an eccentric teacher, Debraj Sahai who sees himself more as a magician. Michelle's parents don't approve of Debraj's unconventional teaching methods, yet...he persists.

Slowly, he teaches her words and their meaning through sign language.

When everyone was about to give up on Michelle and send her to a mental asylum, it was her teacher who saw that inner "something special". Years later, Michelle becomes the first deaf-blind person to gain admission at a university to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree. Little does she know, that her teacher starts to develop Alzheimer's disease. After an uphill struggle to attain her BA, Michelle gives a speech to her graduating class. She tells them how for the past 12 years, her teacher would bring her to the graduation ceremony and tell her, "I want to see you there one day." And while he may not be there there to witness her graduate, she tells her class that the reason she is not wearing a graduation robe is because her teacher should be the first to see her in it.

At a mental asylum, Debraj has lost his memory and is even unable to speak. Ironically, after all the years that have passed, it is his student who becomes his teacher. The film is inspired by Helen Keller's life and struggle and certainly evokes a lot of emotions. It had me in tears...for a number of reasons. This film inspired me to write the following.
With students outside the school
With students outside the school
I have had some incredibly memorable teachers throughout my years of schooling. I remember many of my teachers, and I'm still in contact with Mrs Felton, my high school English teacher. I believe that she nurtured the curiosity I had of the English language. Since I was able to read, I had a love for words. Books became my friends. I wanted to create magic like the works of Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl.
It is for this reason that my love of writing developed over the years. This is why I thought I would pursue a career in Journalism (even after obtaining my BJourn).

For me, no power is stronger than the power of the pen.

Now that I am in the capacity of being an English teacher myself, I realize that my "job" is so much more than that. Being a "teacher" is merely just one of the many labels I wear. At the best of times, I am also a sister, a confidant and a shoulder to cry on. 

When I look back at some of the letters and messages I have received from students over years gone by, I sometimes sit in awe. Words which I feel are far too great for me, often brings me to tears. Probably the best line I receive from students is, "You taught me more than English." That's when it dawned on me.

My work is merely the platform I have been given to inspire, motivate and manifest magic from these people who are my students.

I can't explain the thrill I get when I see a student blossom before my very eyes. When I see progression, development and hidden talents surface...I sit back and beam with pride. Becoming too emotionally attached to ones work is, of course, a risk and I guess I have been guilty of that too. I know that deep down I have this desire to stop war and poverty.
With my High Int class (2013) at The Heart Museum
With my High Int class (2013) at The Heart Museum
Realistically speaking, I may not be able to put on my super(s)hero cloak and save the world from war, but...in MY own way, I can be a (s)hero in my own world to my students - whether it's from my office or in front of a whiteboard in a classroom, even if it's standing under a tree outside the school. We need to remember that many of our students look up to us in so many ways. Whether we like it or not, we DO become their family away from home.

I have many names at school: "Teacher", "my sister" and sometimes (to my surprise) "mother" or "mum". I take no offence to this. In fact, I embrace the title and for as long as I am able, I too...will shine the light on all those who bring light to MY world.

I extend my deepest gratitude to my colleagues who understand my passion. Not just for English, but for people and understanding what their needs and wants are. Then, to my students (past and present) who challenge me day after day and whose hunger for knowledge is most inspirational.
Thank YOU for reading my piece!
With my Pre-Intermediate class from 2013
With my Pre-Intermediate class from 2013

What have you stolen?

by Sheetal Makhan
14/08 (written in 10mins)

Carefully, slowly, quietly, without being noticed, I confess that I have stolen. 

I stand on the sidelines watching them. They go by in haste. All on their own mission. 
Hurting. 
Deceiving. 
Manipulating. 
Being a hypocrite.

This saddens me to no end. There are days when I feel like the world is falling apart. 
Like a freshly baked cookie, it crumbles to dust in my fingers. Before my eyes.

Who is responsible for this? Humanity.
I watch in disgust as they... no, we...hurt each other. So much.

This can't be right. I feel it in my heart.
I make a decision that I don't want to be that. I want to live my life peacefully. Wholesome. 

When I was born, the world rejoiced while I, as a baby, cried.
I want to live my life so that when I die, I will rejoice and the world will cry. 
I want a life lived with good moral intentions.

So what have I stolen? 
I have stolen the knowledge of knowing what is right and wrong. 
What is moral and what is not.

We are here to learn from each other and to make informed decisions of what is right and wrong. 
What is black and white.

Who will cry when you die?
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