Karen New Year

Today I went to the Karen New Year celebration.  It was very interesting and I’m really glad that I went.  Before I left my house I looked around for my camera, but couldn’t find it.  I realized later that I left it at my parents’ house on Christmas day.  Oh well…  It would have made this post really cool.

I arrived a little after noon.  I was lucky to find a parking spot.  When I entered the church there were Karen people dressed in traditional clothing.  I found a place for my coat and wandered through the crowd.  I had no idea if I’d know anyone there.  I went upstairs and as I rounded the corner, a woman just gave me a styrofoam container of food and a bottle of water.  At that point is where I spotted my student.  So I sat and ate my Karen food while talking with him.

The food box had fried rice with cilantro, egg-rolls, triangular shaped fried things and some pieces of chicken along with some hot dipping sauce.  The triangle things were filled with potato and some kind of meat (probably hamburger).  I liked the egg rolls the best.  The dipping sauce definitely had a kick to it.  For dessert was a bowl of fruit – pineapple, cantaloupe and honey dew melon.

There was a program in the sanctuary.  My student lead me in and made sure I had a good seat near the front.  There was dancing, singing and instrumental solos.    The dancing was quite interesting.  There were two different bamboo dances.  The last one had six bamboo poles in one direction and six more perpendicular to the others and over the top.  Each pair of poles had people on either end.  The rhythm was tapped: down, down, down, together.  A group of dancers stepped carefully amongst the poles without getting their ankles crunched between poles.  They said that this dance was typically done at a funeral.  But they also do it for the new year.  My student was one that sang a song.

The people were all dressed in colorful fabrics.  They were mainly in reds and blues.  They are from Burma, but the style almost seemed sort of South American looking to me.  I did buy a bag that will give you an idea of the fabric. Here it is:

karen bag

It is so wonderful that I was able to go to this celebration.  I obviously look different than them (yep – Scandinavian me sticks out).  But every other “white” person that was there was treated like a special guest.  They are so proud to share their culture and so glad that you want to learn about them.  The changes that these people have dealt with are amazing.  To assimilate to life in the US is dramatically different from their home country.  I admire their efforts and was glad to be a part of them today.



My blogger friend DKZody nominated me for the Pop-Tastic blog award.  Thank you DKZ.

Here are the  Rules & Regs for the bling:

  1. When you receive The Award, please post it on your blog, linking back to the person who gave it to you.
  2. In addition, please link to This Post, which explains the origins of The Award.
  3. Please visit Veggie Mom’s Post , which explains the origins of The Award, and Sign Mr. Linky, so she’ll be able to keep a record of all whose Blogs are Pop-tastic! Feel free to leave a comment, too!!
  4. Pass The Award along to SIX Bloggy Friends, whose creativity merits inclusion in this circle. Link to their blogs in your Awards Post, and notify them that they’ve received The Award.

I have a slight problem.  I haven’t been reading and commenting on many blogs other than DKZody’s.  I just added Mr. K and Continuous Everywhere But Differentiable Nowhere to my blogroll.  But I haven’t commented enough (or at all) so this would be coming from way out of the blue.  Plus, DKZody already has Mr. K in her six nominations.  The other blogs listed on my blogroll are ones that I read, but I don’t comment often.  I guess I’m a lurker on those other ones.  Plus, some are political and some are more technical medical blogs that for some reason interest me.

So as in all chain type letters, awards, etc. I am the one person who isn’t following the rules.  I need to read and comment more before I can pass this on.  I really appreciate the award, but I’m kind of a weak link in the chain.

The Service

I haven’t written about dating in awhile.  There hasn’t been anything to write about anyway.  I haven’t actually been thinking about dating.  I’ve been too busy.  But yesterday I got a phone call.  It was the service.

It has been at least six months since I finished the service.  If you recall, I was quite happy to be done with it.  By the end it was just a game to see how cheap I could get each date.  The more dates, the more to average out the cost.

So I was surprised to get a call from one of their matchmaker ladies.  Guess what?!?  They’ve got a deal for me!  I already would get $200 off because I’m a former client.  But, here’s the kicker, they’re adding on an additional 6 months for free!  I could hardly stand doing 6 months straight of it.  I took a 6 month break in the middle of my year long contract.  I’m sure that they think they’ll find you a match before you get through 18 months.  But as someone who has already been through 20 men of theirs, I’m not so confident in their abilities.  Oh and apparently they have triple the number of clients that they had back when I was a client.  Really?  That doesn’t mean much when you don’t know the actual number.  So I politely declined.  Plus, if I’m going to spend that kind of money, I’m going to take a nice vacation or put a down payment on a car.  Those are at least guaranteed.

After I talked to the matchmaker lady I called my friend who actually got matched by them on her first date.  I talked to her husband since she was taking a nap.  Her husband had about 8 or 9 dates with the service before he met my friend.  I told him all about my phone call and what it now costs to do the service.  Of course, if you do meet someone and it works, the price doesn’t matter.  But the husband had an interesting comment about what it’s like to go on all of these dates.  “Pleasant but empty.” I couldn’t agree more.  He perfectly described how I’ve felt after these dates.

As of now, I don’t have a plan about dating in 2009.  I really don’t want to think about it.  So I guess I’m not…

Perks of Diversity

At my school, I’m a minority.  I just did a quick count and I only have 15 kids that you would consider “white.”  That’s about 21% of my students and I think that is about right for the school population.

It’s cool to say that most of the kids in my school speak more than one language.  I also learn a ton from them about their cultures.  It makes for a fun and interesting teaching environment.  You also can have some rare opportunities that I’m sure my colleagues in the burbs do not get.

On Friday, a student that I had 1st quarter was trying to find me.  Since I travel and teach in another room 4th hour, he really had to ask around to find me.  He gave me an envelope.  I thought it was a Christmas card and opened it when I got home.  It’s way cooler than a Christmas card.

I’ve been invited to a New Year Celebration for the Karen people in the community.  The Karen people are from Burma and western Thailand.  The city in which I live is known for taking in various refugee groups.  The Karen people are one of the newer ones.   There will be a culture show with traditional music and dance and “Karen women will serve you with healthy, spicy and yummy traditional Karen food.”  To top that all off, there will be some guest speakers including one of our state Senators.  I’m so excited!

As a person that is not Karen, I feel very privileged to have been invited to this celebration.  Whenever I’m invited to an event that is outside of school that helps me see into the lives of my students, it’s an honor.

The celebration in on December 27th.  You’ll have to check back later to read all about it.



As a high school teacher, I never expect to get any gifts from my students. Especially working in a low income area, you really don’t expect anything. So when you do get a gift it is very special.

Friday was our last day before our two week break. I actually was fairly productive with my students. I gave quizzes in all of my classes and was able to correct them. I didn’t get any whining about the quizzes because the result was that they had no homework.

When I got to my last class, one of my students gave me a card and another gave me a tin of cookies and another package. I didn’t open the package until I got home. It was a book – one from an Oprah book club selection. I also opened the cookie tin to see what was inside. It was so nice to get this little gift.  The best gifts seem to be the ones that are unexpected.


Tonight is a night for parent teacher conferences. They’re earlier because there is a scheduling conflict with a big basketball game. Darn… 😉

Conferences have been fine. But there’s one thing that would have been nice… If they would have kept the HEAT on!



I had a discussion with a friend last night.  We were talking about how we like mangos but they are hard to cut up.  I tried to describe how I do it, but it wasn’t working…

I’m sure that they teach you some special way to cut a mango if you go to culinary school.  But I just learned by watching my aunt.  I figured that she ought to know how to do it since she grew up in Madagascar where they actually had mangos that grew nearby.  I had just bought 2 mangos at the grocery store yesterday afternoon.  Today I needed a snack and decided to cut one up and document it.  I think the pictures are pretty self explanatory.