Saturday, March 28, 2009

AIDS in the District

I need to write this down before I forget it happened. On Tuesday, in Government, I taught the students of the current problems with AIG and how the government is asking them to pay back money they are handing out to bonuses because it is not fair to the American people that their tax dollars is going into the hands of wealthy AIG executives (AIG was infused with 170 billion tax dollars from the bailout bill).

While we were looking at the paper, another article jumped out to my 4th period class. It was about AIDS in the District. The overall percentage in DC is 3%. This isn’t a simple random sample, but the actual number of individuals who have been tested and are positive, compared to the total population. One in 10 individuals between the ages of 40-49 has aids in DC. The rates in some parts of DC are higher than in Africa. This is insane!

Well, this peaked the students’ interest, so instead of moving on into our planned debate, we dove into this article. I opened up the question, “How can you as residents of the District change this?” The responses are probably what you would expect from a group of urbanized seniors. Condoms, safe sex, birth control (we discussed how that wouldn’t help too much), not sleeping around. Students discussed disseat of partners and brought up the gay issue. Students at Ellington have friends and parents with HIV. They know those who have died. This issue scares them. Unfortunately, they have lived through this and had personal experiences to provide. We talked about this for a good fifteen minutes. Then, as the subject took a turn for the worst, I got their attention and told them it was time for me to put a plug in. I stared at the talkative back corner of the room until they new I was serious and their soft chuckles stifled. With one extended finger in the air, I explained that there is only one way to completely prevent this epidemic. I passionately told them that abstinence was the only way. I explained that it might not be “cool” and it is definitely not the cultural norm, but it is right and it will work to prevent this. I went on to tell them that one day when speaking to their spouse of their past, they will be ashamed for the amount of people they have slept with and even the amount of people they have kissed. It might be cool to speak lightly about it now, but one day they will regret it. I went on to tell them how we have been desensitized in our society into thinking intimate relationships are no big deal and expected. We discussed how pornography and intimacy outside of marriage ruins marital relationships and the minds of those who see it. We spoke about these effects on the family unit. It is everywhere—soft porn on facebook, porn in the halls of DESA—it’s everywhere. Again, passionately, I drove in my point that they will regret their careless attitudes toward sex and that all problems within our society has streamed from this widely accepted phenomenon.

I guess they could tell how serious I was because some of them started clapping. A girl (has been dating a guy in the class for over two years) shared why it is important to wait until marriage for her. Others nodded as I spoke, urging me on and knowing I wasn’t casting something so precious before individuals who had no intentions of listening. I hope that our discussion of HIV had some type of an impact on the students and that they will protect themselves from the AIDS epidemic in the District. I guess it really is possible to share my beliefs in the classroom in an appropriate way, because, let’s be honest, I basically testified to them of the importance of keeping the Law of Chastity and the blessings of living a moral life. Whoops…

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Week of March 8

Sunday, March 8, 2009--We have started to take Sunday afternoon trips and they have been our greatest joy.
Jefferson Memorial--Wendy, Mike, Carolyn, Kristen, Ryan, Amber. Superhero pose. This was the whole crew on our adventure. Mike drove us to the FDR Memorial and then we walked to the Jefferson Memorial. It was the most incredible weather. I realized how happy I really am when I am outside, as this was the first time it felt good enough to spend time outside since Fall.
Jefferson Memorial--Thank you, Ryan, for your expert posing skills. And, even more so, thank you Wendy for not wearing your ridiculous glasses.
We love old TJ
In awe...Don't worry, I was sore after this cartwheel ;) Again, Ryan was the brain behind the operation.
We ran into these great military officers.
Outside the TJM
George Mason Statue
He drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights which was the document that many of the phrases of the Declaration of Independence was drafted from. He more boldly declared equal rights for all individuals which Thomas Jefferson later lightly repeated.
With FDR and his little dog. Please note Wendy's glasses. She is our special roommate.
Depression Soup Kitchen Line--these were the people posing with the statues in front of us. They took a very long time, so we decided to take pictures of them instead.
It was a sorrowful day.Our Christmas Card Family PictureOur City :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Dr. and Sister Hansen, the National Teaching Coordinators, came to observe us from BYU. It was great to see some familiar faces. They met us at our apartment (the picture above is in our lobby with a doorman) and we had a quick seminar. Then they took us to dinner.
and it was delish. It was New Orleans Style eating.

Thursday, March 12, 2009
Our friend, Mike, got us tickets to go to the Senate and House. We heard a debate on DC Voting rights (which I loved because we've been debating this in class and following as it's appeared in Congress. PS--it's stalled because they tacked a voting rights bill on it which DC residents aren't too fond of) . There were NO congress people sitting in on the debates. It was so sad. We also heard a presentation on global warming. Quite exciting. Kristen and I arrived a bit early and explored the Botanical Gardens across the lawn from the Capitol building.
Haha--we have to get creative.

Friday, March 13, 2009
And to introduce one of the funnest weekends of my DC experience. It all started with this little guy, Oliver (the car, obviously). We asked for a ride to the temple and Sarah in our ward volunteered to lend us her car. It was SO great to have a car. What an experience.
The trip to the temple was so great. It was nice to sit in silence. The youth group was fun to watch. It's hard to believe that 10 years ago we entered for the first time! Mostly, the four of us sat in silence.
Washington, DC LDS Temple
Then, the excitement began. We got lost. We ended up at the wrong Target. It was closed. We found the right Target (my mom will be amazed that I've only been to Target twice in 3 months). We went to Wendy's (our directions told us to turn right at there, so naturally we ate there too). It was the wrong Wendy's. We were a block away from home and missed the turn. We ended up at the Lincoln Monument before we could turn around. We almost died in a head on collision. Apparently, Kristen doesn't have night vision or depth perception. Good thing we assigned her to drive.
Eventually we got home. I accidentally squished Kristen's loaf of bread. Somehow, Carolyn and Kristen started throwing it at one another, I found it and hit Meggie with it (it exploded). Instant bread crumbs. We have a hilarious video i'll have to add later. Oh wow, what a funny night. It was SO great to have a car!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday night, we went to Georgetown Cupcake, the cutest little cupcake shop which ALWAYS has a line. We bought cupcakes before heading to Our Town at Duke Ellington (to give away of course...).
This picture was from the last time we graced Georgetown Cupcake, but the message is the same. Delish.
Our Town was SO good. I seriously loved it. It was one of the best plays I have ever seen. I felt like a proud parent watching our kids perform. Elijah waved at me as a part of his character. It melted my heart. I love those kids. Memorable quotes... "Don't spill the beans!" "cokle-doodle-doo!!!"
Then we took Oliver to a black and white Mocktail Party. It was pretty posh, at a old stake president/ representative from Oklahoma's home in Alexandria. Well we got lost. For a long period of time, but made it there for the end. It was fun. Notice the black and white.And, then we put gas in Oliver. Well, we delegated.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday afternoon, we went to the National Cathedral. I accidentally declared my testimony of the Catholic Church when we sang a song. Everyone else in my group skipped that song, but apparently I felt strongly about my experience and decided to testify. It was a fun group and we heard some new insights, such as: adultery is the skeleton in all of our closets (oh really?) and "we break the sabbath", but "we're all in this together." (I guess it's better to sin collectively). It was pretty entertaining. I am really glad we were able to go.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's True

I just had such a great discussion with one of my students. Her dad works for PBS and is a pretty big time journalist. We were discussing weekend plans and she told me she worked and went to church. I responded and told her I went to my 3 hours of church then to church at the National Cathedral. We started discussing the LDS faith. She took a class at Georgetown over the summer and said that her teacher really supported the LDS religion and had been into a temple (not really sure how that worked since she isn't Mormon...). My student and her family have been watching the television series Big Love. I explained to her that I did not appreciate them making a mockery of something that was so sacred to me. I am sad that the people of the world now know some of our most sacred ceremonies even more than I do, but I know that all things which are "virtuous, lovely, or of good report" will continue to prevail and all other things will have no lasting impact. This is explained in a message from the official LDS Church website in a statement to the public in reference to the Church in the media.

I know our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be happy. Because of this, we have been placed in families. The only way to completely return to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, is through the family unit. The temple allows individuals to be sealed together for eternity. I love this Plan. While I do not know the meaning of all things, I have a personal witness that the work which takes place inside the temple is eternally binding and will one day allow me to live with those I love most--my parents, brother, husband, children, and relatives--forever. I will do whatever it takes to deserve the blessings my Heavenly Father is waiting to bestow upon me.

I wish the students I teach could understand what I know. I wish I could tell them. I am appreciative of their examples. (I say all this as I am sitting in the middle of the media center constantly being interrupted by, "Miss. Anderson...can I turn in my poster now?" and "Miss. Anderson which of these tattoos do you like best? I designed them for my friend.") When I debated coming to DC, I was really unsettled with many things. My old roommates thought I was falling apart. However, I received a blessing and I was told that I would come to be an example to those I am around. I feel that I have learned much, much more from the examples of my roommates and students, then I could possibly give. Examples of love, forgiveness, and appreciation. I am learning to love everyone because I see so many do this daily.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Quotable Quotes

Amber: "Who is our Supreme Court Chief Justice?"
Female Student: "Judge Mathis."
Amber: "hahahaha, you mean the equivalent of Judge Judy? Danielle...I WILL be sharing this answer with everyone I know."

Male Student's cell phone beeps while someone is commenting in class.
Same Male Student: 2 seconds pass, "cough."
Class looks at him and begins to chuckle
Ms. Anderson: "hahahahah, did you seriously just cough to cover up your cell phone?"

Ms. Chandler: "Son, take off your hat!"
Ms. Chandler: "Boy, take of your hat!"
Ms. Chandler: "Take your hat off now."
Male Student: "Ms. Chandler, it's my thinking cap."
Days later...
Ms. Chandler: "Boy, take off your hat"
Ms. Anderson passes out quiz. Students begin to work on quiz. Ms. Anderson looks at above mentioned male student who seems to be stumped. She observes him slump into his chair, retrieve his "thinking cap," put it on his head, give the top of his head a little massage, and easily finish the test.

More funny stories to be reported. I just have to edit all the good ones so that if I ever run for public office they won't be held against me ;)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's March Madness!!!

What a week we had! This marks the 3rd week in a row we had a three day weekend (thank you snow). It's official, I only have about one month left of school. I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown. Here is a recap of the week...
Carolyn's old roommates from BYU came and stayed with us. Carolyn made us an amazing dinner. It was fun to have them around. As we showed them the in's and out's of the metro and the city, lots of us felt like actual residents for the first time. And yes, it was fun to live with 11 girls for 4 days.
This picture was not taken on Sunday, but I just discovered it. Monday through Thursday, we take turns cooking dinner with a partner. Sweet and tender, I know. We have roommate dinners. It's fun. Since we do this, there is never any need to go grocery shopping! The only thing I have in my cabinet is water, fiber one bars (which are the basically like candy bars...they are So good), mini-kleenex packages, and gum. Whomever's idea it was to cook for each other was truly inspired.

Snow Day!!! We woke up to snow. DCPS declared a 2 hour delay. We rolled over and slept for two additional hours. Then we got all ready for school. Meggie and Kristen called their mentor teacher and she basically told them not to even attempt to go. Last time we had a snow day we went to the school and no students came so they put the 40 or so in attendance in a room and showed them a movie on African Aparteid. Well, public transportation wasn't running yet, so Ms. Chandler told me there would be a sub there so not to worry about going. It was so great to be home. I worked on my Teacher Work Sample (this ridiculous project we are doing for BYU) then traveled to the Hishorn Museum of Modern art with Carolyn and her friends. It was a weird museum. Contemporary art is weird and I think I could have done half of that age 3. Anyways, it was enjoyable none the less.

WednesdaySenator Flake (R-AZ) came and spoke to the Barlow Center. It was really great to hear his perspectives on DC Representation in the House (he thinks if it is approved, it should be done so constitutionally, with no vote given to level things out through the gained Utah representation. If it doesn't work constitutionally, he doesn't think it should go through at all. He told us that lots of talk is supporting DC as being seceded back to Maryland and only leaving the national Mall to the Federal Government), being a member of the Church while away from home, the economy, and many other measures. When I asked him what he would tell a group of high school seniors, if he were to give a lesson on Congress the next day (as I was), he responded, "tell them to vote Republican" then he laughed and explained that here in DC the local news is the rest of the nation's national news and to take advantage of that. I really learned a lot from listening to him. It is great to have so many opportunities here in DC.


Friday after school, Meggie, Kristen, and I, walked down to the Vietnam Memorial and Lincoln Monument. We had intentions of going to the Jefferson Monument as well, but it was such a long walk from Foggy Bottom, we got too tired and walked back. Thousands of thousands of names are inscribed on the wall of people who gave their lives for our nation. Many people question America's involvement in Vietnam. Regardless of these torn opinions, I have gained a great appreciation for those individuals who have given so much to serve Americans. They choose to protect a group of people they will never meet. Millions of Americans openly display their distaste for war and forget the sacrifices given by so many. I am grateful for those who have served in so many capacities to protect our great nation. Friday night, we went to Georgetown Cupcake and to the "big green chair" with some Barlow people. Turns out the "big green chair" is on our school campus. (Pictures to come as soon as they are emailed to me). Some of my students came out of Our Town practice as we were sitting in this chair. All of a sudden, I heard this loud, prolonged yell. I saw that it was my student Elijah. He is one of my favorites. Honestly, on the first day of class, I thought he was going to be one of my struggles, but after a few talks in the hall and the library, we have gained a mutual trust and respect. I really appreciate him. I always have to make him take off his hat and stop rapping while I'm lecturing, but I really appreciate him. He's a smart guy. We have good discussions. He taught me what "boney jeans" are (skinny jeans for those of you who aren't up on style like I am not apparently. They are called boney jeans because they stick to your bones). I also saw Nuri (who skipped my class earlier that day), Mayaa and Kailaisa. Kailaisa made my day. I just began teaching DC History and am pretty insecure. Let's be honest, I know absolutely nothing about DC History and Ms. Chandler knows EVERYTHING about it. Well Kailaisa, who also skipped class for some reason, said that she wishes she didn't miss class because "she likes that class now, it's interesting." Well, as a teacher, that totally made my day. We also saw Nicholas and Jasmine. Nicholas is in my government class and he is a golden student. Always attempting to analyze the daily political cartoon and just a really sweet boy. They were so excited when we told them we wanted to come see their show choir and Our Town performances. They are great kids. I really appreciate them. I have learned so much already.
SaturdaySaturday morning, we took a trip to the Eastern Market. It is basically a glorified flea market. We saw lots of great things and purchased a few treasures. We purchased Time magazines from the 1930s-1970s (to display in our classrooms one day). We found some great antique jewelry and I purchased a really great picture of the Cherry Blossom Trees and the Jefferson Monument. We finished off the morning with crepes, a Eastern Market must. What more could you need?Oh, and the weather has been INCREDIBLE this weekend. I am just so happy and want to be outside all the time. We currently have one of our couches on the balcony. I hope this lasts, but have a feeling it will not.
Saturday evening, we attended the Naval Academy YSA Ball. It was such a fun gathering, but, let's be honest, the crowd was a bit different than we expected. We thought there would be a humongus turn out, turns out everyone looked 14. The men were dressed in uniform and some girls were in formals. It was pretty fun to see them all dressed up. There are not many LDS people at the Naval Academy, and many of the guys there haven't served missions (which made us quite older than the typical YSA guys). It was fun. Thank you Naval Officers for serving our nation, and thank you to my guy friends for serving our Lord on missions.
This is what Wendy found a the Eastern Market. She is so odd...but she sure loves her glasses.This is the funniest picture of Wendy, I couldn't resist.
Amber, Kristen, Colleen, Mike and the Blue Angel JetWe found this hat on the coat rack and all hurredly took a picture.
Don't worry, we don't know a single one of these Navy guys...