Sunday, June 26, 2011

Yearbook Camp

I usually only update when interesting things happen, and well, my life has been anything but interesting as of late. I read Macbeth in one day on Friday and started Much Ado About Nothing. That's exciting right? No, you're right. I know boring when I see it . . . Since I got back from Joplin I've been busy getting things done for my classes in Oxford this summer. I went shopping with my dear friend Kim Gleason :) She's the best shopping buddy and keeps me rational and within budget. I had a blast with her. I also went to my cousin Jessica's wedding. It was a beautifully splendid day and my first temple sealing ceremony. I was glad to be invited, and it was a great moment for me to witness. I appreciate being a part of that special moment. I put a few pictures in the slide show above.
Other than driving to and from Salt Lake or Provo, I've been sheltered in my house packing and repacking and reading most of the time. Although I went to Yearbook Camp earlier in the week. Yeah, that sounds nerdy too, but it is actually a pretty good time. I took three of my seniors that will be on staff this year. We spent three days coming up with our concept for next year's book. They hold general and mini-sessions to teach different things like design, photography, cool ways to get everyone in the book, theme development, etc. We have deadlines and meet with cover artists who help design the cover of the book. Next year, Gunnison High is celebrating its 100th year as a school. So, no spoilers here, but the book is going traditional and really exciting. I've got an excellent crew this year, and I'm really looking forward to working with them. They should be some hard workers :)
The camp was held at Snowbird this year, and it is a beautiful place. There is still plenty of snow (though brownish now) and I was tempted to take my skis with me. But there was no time for playing around :) We road the tram lift up to the peak and walked around in the snow. It is a beautiful view, though my student who is afraid of heights didn't enjoy the edge much at all.
It was a great three days. Kim and Cody let me crash with my students at their house. They are so good to me that way. I loved seeing the boys and Laney, though I didn't get to play legos with them. I hope I can return the favor of hospitality someday. Maybe when Cody gets involved with Scouts he can bring the troupe down and I'll show them a good time :) I can teach woodcarving or something. :)
I'm trying not to count down to the day I leave, but I fly out in 5 days! This week has me busy with teaching stuff. I have a Core Academy to attend that will teach me the new standards and how to adapt my current curriculum to fit the new standards. I'm looking forward to it because it will be the only prep I'll do before school starts in August. Eek. But then, my mom drives down on Thursday to take me to St. George at which point I'll get on a shuttle Friday to the Vegas airport. Then, so long U.S. hello U.K. I don't know what it will be like, but I hope it's worth all the anticipation. I'll keep y'all updated while I'm gone. And of course I'll still be available via Skype, Facebook, and email :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Joplin, MO

Okay, so here's the low down. I went to Joplin, Missouri last week and it was incredible. It was life changing. On the last day of school last week, or 10 days ago I guess, one of my co-workers and friends was telling us about her past in living in Missouri. She lived there with her husband and young family while he went to medical school. Before they moved to Utah, they lost their house to a tornado. She decided to fly to Missouri to help with the relief efforts with her husband, son and a few boys from town. I listened to her and the donations coming in from the county and I couldn't help but want to help. I don't have any money, but I do have a body that can work. I leaned over to the teacher next to me and said, "I wish I could go too." She said, "Let's take the seats out of my van and take supplies over." I said, "Are you serious?" and she said, "Yeah, why not." And that is how it started. The truly inspiring part of this story comes from my community. Without a daily newspaper, school being in session, or anything but word of mouth, Jolyn Chappell (my fellow teacher with the van) and I were able to get the word out about us collecting item donations. We put an ad on the radio, donation boxes at local stores, and flyers where ever we could. And something amazing happened: Over Memorial Day weekend this Valley gathered more donations than we could even imagine. Instead of taking a van without seats, we ended up loading a truck and a trailer. Even greater generosity came when a family in town LENT us their NEW truck to pull the trailer and a neighbor LENT us a trailer to take. If I learned anything from this trip, it's that the generosity of people is incredible. I'm so proud to be from Gunnison Valley. People give and give and give.
So with our load we left for Missouri. The crew consisted of me and my fellow teacher JoLyn and two former students Megan and Rayel. I know them as hard workers and drivers of trailers and standard trucks (hehe). We left Tuesday and arrived Wednesday evening to unload the trailer into the garage of the Bishop's house. He lined up to have some ladies in the ward to sort the stuff and lay it out for the members of the Ward that lost their houses (30 houses in the one Ward). Anyway, I know it will go to good use. We spent the next two days raking up debris mostly and listening to people. That is one thing that kind of fascinated me. People really just wanted to talk about what happened to them. Where they were in the storm, what saved them, etc. etc. It was interesting and touching.
So Joplin looks just like you've seen on TV but worse in person. Two dimensions have nothing on tornado destruction. I've posted a few pictures but that's not even the crazy stuff. St. John's hospital has been popular footage on news, but what you don't see are the concrete parking stops (rebarred into the pavement and 200-300 lbs. a piece) blown everywhere or the cars piled on top of each other. Or hundred year old trees uprooted all over the city. It's absolutely crazy.
Though, the devastation is nothing compared to the overwhelming generosity. When we unloaded our trailer of goods we met a member at the Bishop's house. She started talking to us and we talked to her too. We told her we came from Utah and she got touched. She asked where we were staying and we said the back of the trailer and sleeping bags. She wasn't going to have that so she offered us a place at her house and wouldn't take no for an answer. We followed her home and she made an awesome dinner for us. Meeting Nicole and her family was one of the highlights of the trip. She's good people. But really everywhere we went we met cool people. A Chaplain who travels to disasters and helps with grief counseling. He's been to Katrina and all over. A group of about 100 Wells Fargo employees doing service (man I love that bank). Churches opening their doors to everyone, feeding people. Chiropractors giving free care to victims and volunteers. Operation Blessing sending volunteers by the bus load and random people like us, manning shovels and rakes and doing anything asked. The list goes on and on and that doesn't include the many stories of heroism from the storm. Many of which have been made fairly public. The Joplin tornado was a tragedy, but the human response is almost as incredible to see as the destruction. Witnessing the kindness I saw this week restores some hope in humanity. People are good.
The work we did seems like peanuts in the grand perspective of it all, but someone reminded me of the starfish story and I know what we did meant something to someone. Anyway, that's what I did for my first week of vacation. Now I have three weeks to get some serious reading done and gear up for my summer in England. Man, my life seems unreal even to me.