Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Nerds, you say? Intellektuelle badasser, sier vi.

With my high schoolers
 Well, teaching is starting up again and I’m rushing from orientation to orientation. I already started at Katten last week. We’re finishing up with Native Americans, and just to trick my students I gave the ones who finished their classwork early an article on Nacerima culture. It’s all about a society in which people are convinced their bodies are ugly and prone to disease, and the terrifying and ridiculous lengths they go to, performing painful superstitious procedures to keep themselves fit. Of course, at the end, one of the kids (both of whose parents are professors of anthropology, so she had a head start) began to figure out something was up, but nobody’s cottoned on yet to the fact that “Nacerima” is “American” backwards.

I got my yearbook from Katten. My favorite bit was the slogan: Nerds, you say? Intellektuelle badasser sier vi. Yeah! My high schoolers are the coolest class—they all dressed up as hippies for their class picture. Adorable. There was a list of top reasons to attend Katten, and “lærerne er koselige” –roughly translated as “the teachers are cozy” was on it. You know, right above “Asiatiske jenter.” Asian chicks. On the last page were the pictures of two students who died at Uttøya and the words “vi minnes” – we remember. It’s heart-wrenching to see their names and then the years 1990-2011, and 1993-2011. No high school yearbook should have that.
Explaining the difference between
realism, regionalism, and naturalism
I have big plans for this semester. Besides my regular writing workshop, I’m TAing a master’s seminar in American travel itineraries: we’re ranging from Mary Rowlandson’s captivity (gosh, I’m so glad God wrote a whole book about suffering before He plunged me into mine so I’d have something to read while Indians oppress me) to Absalom, Absalom! (damn those snotty Yankees) to something called Tripmaster Monkey that I’ve never read before. I’m also in discussions with one of the librarians about starting a real writing center for the university… hopefully, with the full force of the Eng dept and humanities library to back me, I’ll be able to take on the Authorities. I have an upcoming lunch with the Rektor (equivalent of the university president) in February, and want to have my whole pitch ready by then.

I’m also figuring out what classes to audit this semester. Right now I’m signed up for a geology course, digital cultures, Scandinavian Government: the Welfare System and Gender, and Scandinavian 20th C Literature. And, of course, Norwegian. My Norwegian’s been growing by leaps and bounds. While my friends from the States were here, an old Norwegian guy accosted us while we were out on a walk, and was really impressed with my skills—he told Michele she should take lessons from me. Yeah!
All excited about Of Mice and Men

I’m planning lessons for cheider this semester, as well. I chose Jewish history as the theme, after vetting some options with my boys. I think I’m going to have them each create their own time line book throughout the course of the semester, as well as have to research and present a period. That way they get stuff to take away from the course, and personal investment. It’s fun being completely in charge of a class—I love getting to plan every little bit, from semester course to individual lesson plans. Makes it come together more holistically.

I finally got my Canadian passport off to the States, and am just praying that all the pieces of it come together. Of course, now that that's done I have to apply for a frikort, and start learning megillah for purim, and prep my Fulbright presentation at our seminar in February. Plus I owe the guy who teaches salsa dancing here at Fantoft a favor (he helped me move a couch) and will now be taking salsa lessons. But compared to Canada, that's a piece of cake.

P.S. If you didn't see them, make sure to check out pictures of my magnificent fjord trip with friends!

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