When I moved to Mongolia, I quickly got a job as an English teacher at a small private school in Darkhan. A new friend, who was also a teacher helped me get the job, and connected me to other teaching opportunities to supplement my teacher’s salary. I’m taking a break from full-time teaching for the time being, but I still have some private students, and when my friend presented me with an invitation for a visit with her 10th grade English class, I couldn’t refuse.
It’s that time of year when kids already have one foot out the classroom door. They’re ready for the holidays and looking forward to a short break from their studies. In Mongolia, the holiday hype is all about New Year’s Eve, with Christmas (minus the Baby Jesus) lumped in. Mongolia may be a primarily Buddhist country, but the commercial nature of the holidays has translated well here. Christmas carols are blaring at the department stores, and cellphone ringtones have been changed to reflect the season. Lots of ABBA’s “Happy New Year” and Wham’s “Last Christmas” is going around. Keeping this in mind, the topic of the class visit needed to be lighter fare.
The class wanted to know about me. They wanted to know where I came from and what I did when I was there. I came up with a lesson plan that included back issues of Giant Robot, a vocabulary worksheet about Christmas in the US, and most importantly, the Big Boss Robot and the Uglydoll Icebat snowflake template!
Eric and Martin have spoken at countless academic institutions over the years, so I’d like to think I was continuing a GR tradition, but once the templates and the scissors came out, the educational value of my lesson plan dissolved into a full on crafting session. Giant Robot is as much about creativity as it has been about documenting and sharing culture, so in the end, it all worked out pretty perfectly.
Everyone got in on the action, sharing three pairs of scissors their teacher had rounded up from neighboring classrooms. I had brought enough templates to practice with though, and enough for everyone to get a chance at creating both characters. I also encouraged the class to create their own designs based on the same principle as the template Eric created. Some students started experimenting when their templates were finished.
Spreading holiday cheer and creativity Giant Robot style! From chilly, snowy Darkhan, wishing all of you a happy, healthy and creative holiday – however you spend it! Just make sure it includes friends, imagination and sharing. It’s better that way.