Friday, April 28, 2006

cinderella, a one-act play

This play was an assignment given to my 10 grade students. They were to paraphrase dialogue from the Grimm fairy tale, and when necessary, create their own dialogue based on the characters. They were divided into groups and given different scenes. The best is probably the scene between the Fairy and Cinderella. One scene was written by a boy - can you guess which one?

Stepmother: Good day, my forgotten slob!
Cinderella: Good day, stepmother.
Stepmother: You must to sweep yard and porch and water flowers, and chop little sticks.
Cinderella: Yes, stepmother.
Stepmother: Why don't you anything? Did you hear me?
Cinderella: I am rest. I just now cleaned the floor.
Stepmother: Why should I feed you then?

Stepmother: Girls, today there will a ball. It's necessary to look nice. Prince will to select fiancee.
Stepsister 1: In order for to look beautiful, so that Prince will like us, we must to get new attire.
Stepmother: Cinderella sewed new dresses for you.
Stepsister 1: I'll charm Prince!
Stepsister 2: No, I'll do it!
Stepmother: Girls, don't quarrel. One of you may become his wife.
Stepsister 2: We all do for that.

Cat: Your stepsisters are lazy, clumsy, and spoiled rotten. You are beautiful and look nice.
Cinderella: They aren't that bad.
Cat: Will you go to the ball?
Cinderella: I would love to go to the ball, but I don't have anything to wear.
Cat: Would you like to dance with the Prince?
Cinderella: Yes, of course. (she starts to cry)
Fairy: Good afternoon, Cinderella. Why are you afraid?
Cinderella: Dear Fairy, I can't go to the ball, because I have no good dress, I have only rags and hand-me-downs.
Fairy: Don't worry. I'll give you dress and slippers.
Cinderella: Oh dear Fairy, thank you!
Fairy: But remember, at twelve, you must be back, because the spell will end.
Cinderella: I will remember.
Fairy: Hurry Cinderella! You will to be late in the ball. (Cinderella goes to the ball)

Prince: What is your name?
Cinderella: My name is Cinderella?
Prince: I am Prince of Wales. Why is you called Cinderella?
Cinderella: I work much at home by cinders stove.
Prince: May I ask you to dance?
Cinderella: Yes, of course! (They dance)
Prince: You are very sexy and beautiful.
Cinderella: Thank you!
Prince: I love you! (Cinderella is embarassed) Will you be my wife?
(The bell rings)
Cinderella: Oh no! (she runs home)

Minister: May I come in?
Stepmother: Of course. Come in.
Minister: We come from the Prince. We have slipper to try on the foot of all girls.
Stepmother: These are my daughters. Slipper will fit them. (He tries them on)
Minister: It doesn't fit them, but it fits Cinderella.
Stepmother: Tell the Prince he must marry one of my daughters. Cinderella is ugly!
Fairy: (appears) Who will marry one your lazy daughters! You must to teach them to be kind, respect people, and work hard. And you! You are mean and harmful to Cinderella!
Stepmother: I'm sorry! I try offend not Cinderella.
Fairy: Cinderella will be so happy!

Cat: Hello Cinderella.
Cinderella: Hello, Cat.
Cat: The Prince loves and admires you. Do you love the Prince?
Cinderella: Yes.
Cat: You will live happily ever after!
Prince: I still love you. Will you be my wife?
Cinderella: Yes, of course!

Friday, April 07, 2006

searching for a perfect family

Ufilmalik is my regional manager for Peace Corps - the person who among other things, sets up new sites in Kazakhstan for future volunteers, and helps maintain old sites, including helping current volunteers with any problems. Yesterday, she came to my site and we looked at families in Tarkhanka. Nina and Kolya don't want another volunteer, and I don't blame them. Having a foreigner stay at your house for two years is quite a responsibility, and I dare say, sometimes a headache. We went around to three different families. The first family has three daughters, two of which have already graduated and live in Ust, and come home sometimes on the weekend, and the other daughter is a sixth-grader in school, and one of the best students I have ever taught. She's really cute. The father there, of course, was a little hesitant, but I think ultimately he'll give in. The second family was an older couple, with a tidy little house and a really nice TV and DVD player. The lady seemed really figity and uptight, very eager to please. Ufilmalik didn't really like her; she must have a pretty good radar for families. I had been forewarned about this family by my old counterpart that this family might try to take advantage of the volunteer for the money. Now why someone would want to take the money a host-family is supposed to use for food for the volunteer, a volunteer who is working for next to nothing in their country, helping their children - why take that money and use it for personal means, like a satellite dish or computer, that's beyond me; but there are those people. It's a reality of Peace Corps. Sometimes people only look at Americans and see dollar signs, not a person who needs to eat. Go figure. The third home was a little old babushka. The home was nice enough, and was quite livable from my standards, which admittedly may have changed over the past two years, with the only exception that there was only a bath, and in that bath was the old woman's laundry, which smelled vaguely of fish. Ewww. I wouldn't want to share a bathroom with that. She did have a pretty cat though, and I don't really like cats.

After Tarkhanka, we went about 8 kilometers up the road to a village called Vinnoye, which is requesting a volunteer, partly because of my recommendation, and partly because it's a good school, albeit smaller, with enthusiastic students, and enthusiastic English teacher, and an enthusiastic director. Ufilmalik talked to the director and teacher about everything regarding a volunteer, how we aren't paid by Kazakhstan, how we come here away from our families for two years to work for free - these facts seem basic but in my school for example, the teachers and students still don't really know that I'm not a regular teacher. I guess they think that an American saw an add in the paper for English Teacher in their village. It's also a fact not readily embraced by the tax department in my county, who repeatedly called me several months ago (after I had already lived here for over a year) to demand that I pay my taxes, undaunted when told that I don't even receive a salary from Kazakhstan. Anyway, I think the new site in Vinnoye will be good for a future volunteer. It was a long day, and I got to speak with some nice local families; the only downside to the day was that on Thursdays I usually go to Ust to meet up with Inessa, and I didn't get to do that. It put me in a funk I guess.

an ill-fitting shirt

Tromping home in the rain today after school, where the atmosphere in the classroom seemed to be as rainy as it was outside, I wished for the sunny skies and warm sun of Texas (read, America - for in my present state of mind, in the States, everywhere is sunny). With the final push to June, it's difficult to get excited about school, about classes. I feel tired a lot. Perhaps it's just the rainy season, a lapse of the spirit that will recover with the turn of the weather. But now, all seems dreary and dull, except for one thing. There is a huge tug-of-war in my mood and heart. I'm happy to be going home - HOME - the very thought... But I'm sad too, to leave the thing I have come to care about the most. The thing that makes me happy, despite any temporary stumbling of my mood, is seeing Inessa. Long ago I told her that the more we met together, the harder it would be apart, and now, being together over 6 months, discovering more and more who she is and how we complement each other, it's hard to be in my little village, or the black hole, as I call it, and harder to think of that inevitable time when I will step back into my dust-covered, foggy life like an ill-fitting shirt.

honey: the bane of bolezni (illnesses)

I got sick at COS. I caught a cold, and I can't help but think now that it was because of the climate change from Ust to Almaty, and I didn't wear a hat. It's funny how things like that are propogated from generation to generation. I tried to talk to my girlfriend about the rather unreasonable ideas that locals have about getting sick. Now, granted, there must be something to them, if everyone believes them. It's annoying when my host-mother, every single teacher in my school, and my girlfriend hector me about not wearing a hat in cool weather. I never wore a hat in Texas in the winter, and never once believed that it, and not those pesky little things called germs, caused my colds. I asked her if she knows that colds are viruses, then she tried to say that she wore a hat because it's uncomfortable in the cold, to which I agreed, but was a rather answer. I don't think you can believe both. I then asked her if she sat on the concrete, to which I got another cop-out answer. Apparently she believes in these things, but equally realizes that they are wives' tales. Believing that a girl can become infertile by sitting on cold concrete seems ridiculous, and that one can catch a cold from not wearing a hat seems almost as unlikely. But they both grow more likely the longer I'm here. I've been in Kazakhstan too long.

Speaking of belief in illness and cures, here's another curious thing. There's toothpaste that my host family uses with not one bit of Russian on it. It's all in English, and I'm sure they don't understand it. It's Colgate Propolis Whitening. I don't even now what Propolis is supposed to mean, and I'm sure they don't know that their toothpaste is supposed to help the whiteness of their teeth enamel. I think it's probably the picture of the bee and honeycomb on the tube. They see the bee and honey, and think, "Honey, I put honey in my vodka and tea when I'm sick. Honey's good. It'll be good in toothpaste too. Brushing my teeth with this every other day will help me from not getting sick." Unfortunately, I think this is probably the actual scenario.