Category Archives: Uncategorized

November Video – Geography Questions

This month we discuss latitude and longitude. In your reply video, I want you to explian what latitude (or parallels) and longitude (or meridian lines) are. How are they used? Where are they on the globe? Where is the equator? Tropic of Cancer? Tropic of Capricorn? Prime Meridian? Where is 90 degrees north? 90 degrees south?

Also, report back on the geographical coordinates (latitude & longitudes) of these three places:

  • Georgetown Penang, Malaysia
  • Ottawa Canada (which is, by the way, the capital of Canada)
  • Verona Italy


Myanmar making life even harder

Over the last week, the Myanmar police have cracked down on Rohingya camps even further. More refugees are fleeing. If any make it to Penang, Malaysia, there’s a school where their kids can go and learn and be safe.

Contributions to RohingyaFund go directly to paying teacher salaries at this school. We’ve raised nearly $3,000 for 2017 teacher salaries. Our goal by year end is $30,000.

For every $9,000 contributed by folks like you, I’ll kick in another $1,000. Tell your friends, and let’s get to $9,000 by Thanksgiving!




 

-Laura

RohingyaFund Is Now a 501c3 Public Charity!

On September 1, we received what we’d worked so hard for: a letter from the IRS approving our public charity 501c3 status.

RREF-501c3-IRS-Letter

Now, all donations are tax-deductible for US Federal income taxes. So, if you were thinking of  donating – now’s the time.

The goal $60k by end of September:

  • $30,000 for 2017 operations (teachers salaries / tuition).
  • $30,000 for the endowment fund.
Donate Any Amount For Tuition, Administrative or Endowment Fund.
(You can specify your wishes and we’ll do our best to honor them):




… or, select from various donating options.

This is me with the Director of the Peace Learning, Karina Dewi.
This is me with the Director of the Peace Learning, Karina Dewi.

Last Day Teaching In Class

Wednesday, August 10th was my last day teaching the Rohingya kiddos in class. A few days later, I was on a flight with my family to our new home in Italy.

For the last day, we made things fun. First, we did our usual round of compliments, but this time I singled each kid out and, one at a time, with full eye contact and big smiles, I told them just how special they were, and I complimented them on something unique to them – their effort, their focus, their attention to detail, positive attitude, etc. Each kid preened as I let the class know how wonderful I thought they were. I tried to channel Mr. Rogers as best as I could. Turns out, it isn’t hard. Why don’t we channel him more often?

After compliments, I read aloud – an exceedingly basic children’s book called, Stars Near and Far. With the handful of very early English learners in the class, I’ve found that reading a toddler book gets class off to a positive start. These books are very accessible to the new kids, but I suspect they also give a boost of confidence to the kids who’ve been in my class since May of last year.

Of course, I gave a little lesson on the solar system and universe, based on the book. My lessons usually take a jaunt out beyond our atmosphere and this day was no exception. I want these kids to contemplate the enormity of our universe, and to realize just how precious our earth is. I reminded them that we’re all hurling through space together on a big rock that’s perfectly suited to us; we need to remember to work together and get along.

Whiteboard-Aug-2016

Then I gave them a little lecture about how their success is up to them and them alone. It’s not up to their teachers to motivate them. The teachers can give information and help solve difficult problems. It’s up to them to want to learn. Don’t worry, I kept it quick and to the point.

After that, we discussed how we’ll stay in touch. My plan is to record a video once a month showing a new place we visit in Europe. In the video I’ll ask them to research the location or building or item, and then answer a question or two in a response video. Fortunately, Karina was in the classroom when I explained this, so she repeated the idea in Bahasa Malay to make sure they understood. Here’s the first one.

Then I told them to watch as much Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood as they could. I want them to know they’re special and worthwhile. If I can’t be there to remind them, then maybe Mr. Rogers can.

Next – and this is a longshot – I said we could try to stay in touch on reddit/r/GreenDawn. It’s a silly subreddit that I post to on occasion. The idea is to stage little green army men somewhere ordinary, but pose them in such a way so as to make it look like they’ve discovered an enemy fortification, or are standing guard over some military installation. It’s silly, but it makes me giggle, and I find it fun to keep an eye out for good locations where I can pull out the little green army men from my purse and deploy into position.

So we went outside and planted army men. Here are the kids with their men.

Romeo Foxtrot reporting in from sector 60-04. Entire platoon has been captured by Giant child-like creatures. Over.
Romeo Foxtrot reporting in from sector 60-04. Entire platoon has been captured by giant,child-like creatures. Over.

The kids positioned a bunch of soldiers all over the yard. We posted one to GreenDawn. I’m so proud of their Alom’s little sniper. Meep.  So proud.

Next, my husband arrived with … the unicycles! While we lived in Penang, my husband coached unicycling and sold unicycles. We had some extra stock, so we gave five unicycles to the school. The kids were beyond excited. Look at ’em.

The kids couldn't wait to build their new unicycles.
  The kids couldn’t wait to build their new unicycles.

With the help of my husband and our unicycling buddy, Gan, we built up the unicycles in the front yard of the school. Gan, bless his heart, is going to come to the school regularly and teach the kids how to ride. My husband and I had done lessons a few times, but in order to learn, one really must practice about twenty minutes a session, for at least ten or so sessions. We simply didn’t get that many lessons in.

Thanks Gan!

As the kids toodled around on unicycles, I unloaded some donations of books, DVD player, etc – you know – the kinds of things you don’t really pack with you whPosDiscen you up n move, but would be totally useful in a library at a school? Yeah, those kinds of items.

I also brought in the rest of the Positive Discipline materials I’d ordered from the US. Here Karina is posing with me with the DVD sets and books. The teachers have a plan to go through all of the DVD instructions and come to consensus on disciplinary guidelines to follow in every classroom. If nothing else, I hope this program gives the teachers the tools they need to help these kids have confidence and grow curiosity in learning.

 

After dropping the boxes off, I looked in my purse for my lip balm. Look at what I found. Meep.

Kopinur, Sabi and Rukiah slipped Good-bye notes into my bag when I wasn't looking.
Kopinur, Sabi and Rukiah slipped Good-bye notes into my bag when I wasn’t looking.

What sweethearts. I’m going to miss these kids.

I’m hoping that the teachers take the Positive Discipline training to heart. These kids deserve the best teaching. Also, I’m hoping these monthly videos between myself and the kids work out. We’ll be posting them on this website, so stay tuned. Maybe, moving our lessons over to the internet will allow more people to join in.

My final send off.

GoodbyeForNow

Discipline Hands

Free and lawless learning. Sounds like fun… but in the classroom? Disaster. That was last week: mayhem, disruptions, disorder.

So this week, I laid down the law; we started with clear rules, and I reminded the students of the rules through the day. We followed a system, whereby rule followers would earn points. Lastly, a prize: whoever earned 25 points got to take a unicycle home for the day.

IMG_7012

The Rules:
Raise hand for permission to speak or leave
Strive to make your teacher happy
Wait to talk to each other after class
Keep hands to selves
Discipline hands (shoulders back, back straight, face forward, hands folded over each other on the table)

Rukiyah won the day. She raised her hand, participated, and held discipline hands nearly the entire time.

Three new kids, who know very little English, wanted to join the class. I let them in on one condition: they follow the rules. Guess who were my most attentive students?

IMG_7013

Today – not so great

Today was not great. I totally face-planted at leading the lesson. It was so HARD. Some kids seemed bored, others were disruptive. I didn’t have the energy to come up with shiny flashy edu-tainment. At one point I was so discouraged, I stopped the lesson and explained that I wasn’t there for me, I was there for them, so if they’d rather just chat, I should leave. Maybe that sounds manipulative, but it was from the heart. They asked me to stay, and I did. But the whole day was a chore. We just barely made it through the word list and lesson, and I high-tailed it home.

990 EZ Tax Forms have been filed.

The US IRS requires that all non-profits file 990 forms every year. I just dropped the 990 EZ into the mail for tax year 2015. You’re welcome to have a look.  I removed a couple lines of personal information. Other than that, it’s all there.

Next up: the 1023 application for 501c3 status. Last week I received answers to all my questions from the pro-bono lawyer in Washington D.C. Now it’s time to finish the form and send that in too.