13 August 2009

school's out for summer

A wise man once quipped, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Boxes of delectable chocolates, platters of tongue-tying caramels, mountains of deep-fried doughy balls smothered in honey, baklava made with enough phyllo dough and honey to feed an advancing Spartan army whilst draining hives throughout the Middle East, among a medley of other homemade Kuwaiti sweets, I really did not know what I was going to get during my last week of teaching at AUK. Aside from the confectioneries, in-class cuisine included pizza (Domino's, Pizza Hut, as well as Caesar's [not to be confused with Little Caesar's, but a Middle Eastern pizza purveyor known simply as Caesar's]), miniature sandwiches from Mr. Baker, smoothies, mint lemonade, and at least a few other delicacies that escape my recollection at the moment.

With 80% of their graded work already accounted for, my 40 students (give or take the few that never or irregularly attended) were more than ready to conclude summer session. Sensing the strong likelihood of an English 101 coup d'etat, I interspersed the last week's lessons with food, humor, and "educational" DVDs. Not entirely surprising, student morale was at an all-time high throughout the final days. Framing a discussion about the intricacies of visual rhetoric and document layout within the context of eight varieties of pizza and Robert Langdon's struggle to race around Rome, deciphering ambigramatic clues with time and energy left to foil the Illuminati's evil plot to destroy the Roman Catholic Church. A wee bit more captivating than Lester Faigley's Writing: A Guide for College and Beyond (which is though a top notch composition textbook). Capping off the week with an engaging and fun quiz (thereby making final grade calculations more of an algebra equation and less of a calculus nightmare) helped to conclude my teaching experience on a high note.
Thursday, 13 August 2009 was not only the last day of summer classes at American University Kuwait, but also marks the celebration of 27 years of Lindsay Anne Shanks! Realizing (after slight hint dropping by the instructor [see question #3 above]) the combined momentousness of this occasion, my students insisted on an in-class celebration. Not one to deny students an opportunity learn while also commemorating a global holiday, we simultaneously celebrated the end of a great semester and a blessed birthday for Lindsay. Wanting to share the fullness of Kuwaiti birthday wishes, my female class graffitied the white board with Arabic birthday wishes.
Not quite as artistic as the girls, my 2:00pm male section (at which time it was only 6:00am in Wisconsin) opted to offer some verbal well-wishing as they posed for a class digital birthday card photo. Unfortunately the photograph does not quite convey the guys' enthusiasm. In spite of their calm and collected appearance, each of these gentlemen was overcome with joy on this day of converging celebrations. A most auspicious day indeed.Somewhat more camera shy, most of the girls allowed their giant birthday card to channel their birthday wishes. Never shy about offering their opinions or asking questions during class, it was no surprise that Taiba, Ebtesam, Noor, Faridah, and Dhoha bolted to the front of the room when I offered the option of posing for a birthday photo. They did a fine job conveying the general sense of glee on Lindsay's birthday.From myself and all my students, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LITTLE SISTER!