Saturday, 24 September 2011

Week 3 - The Big Boat

So, week 3 started off much like week 2 did.  Although now I'm starting to settle in more and I have a better idea of where the curriculum is heading.  I signed up for several committees at the school including the: Celebration of Education, Christmas, Graduation and the End of the Year BBQ.  In addition to those, some of my colleagues and I are interested in running a Math Olympics and a Career Fair.  This is in an attempt to get the kids interested in school and to be more aware of what their options are.  Hopefully it will all give them something to work towards.

On Wednesday there was a boat that came into the harbor.  It wasn't the usual cargo ship though, it was a passenger boat with people who are on a Northern tour.  Our village was one of their stops along the way.  This sort of thing is apparently pretty rare and we ended up closing the school at 2pm so the kids could go and check things out.  I've noticed that not much goes on around here so the kids are generally extremely nosey when something is going on, even if it is something minor.  There was a little thing going on at the community center, so the tourists headed over that way after they had a tour of the village.  There were a couple of girls throat singing and we watched a video from the National Film Board on the Annanacks which is one of the dominant family names here.  In the main hallway the people from the town actually set up some tables to sell the things that they have made.  There were carvings, these odd looking knives, parkas, caribou skin gloves and hats.  Some of it was okay and some was extremely well made.

Here's a picture of some of the carvings that they had for sale.  They were made from stone or horn/bone.  I found them interesting, but not worth buying considering the fact that my father's work is far superior.  I may end up getting something eventually though so that I can support the local economy.

Thursday was a pretty normal day, but the kids were a little off.  I think it may be due to the boat being here and the fact that they had an early day on Wednesday.  Friday was actually an excellent day, but strangely I didn't do much teaching.  We had a firedrill just before lunch.  After lunch my class watched a movie with some of the other senior classes called Stand and Deliver. I had never seen it, but it was a fantastic movie about math in an Eastern LA school.  We're hoping the kids got the message that if they try and are committed to learning they can succeed!  I also realized that South Park did a spoof on the movie in Season 12 in an Episode called "Eek a Penis."

Today I'm going to go for a Hike with a few of the other teachers.  Hopefully I will be able to pick some of the blackberries and then I can make a filling out of them for some danishes.

Next week one of the education directors is coming to check out the school.  This is why we're going to be having the Celebration of Education event.  It will run from around 6pm until probably around 8 or so.  Should be interesting.  Definitely going to take some pictures of that so stay tuned!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Week 2 - A Crash Course on Teaching

So this week was my first "full" week of teaching.  The crash-course part of my experience may be due to the fact that teacher's college in Ontario does not really give you everything you need to be a teacher in Quebec, much less the North.  There are several odd differences that I noticed.

1. The teachers here have the students on facebook.  Strange, I know. In teacher's college they kept telling us that the kids are going to want out contact information and want to add us to facebook, but not to do it! Well, here they do! Although the teachers use it as a tool for monitoring their behavior and sometimes to remind them to go to sleep, do their homework and to come to class.

2. If I was going to consider taking my class outside I would need to have a file folders worth of paper work to do so in Ontario.  Here, if you want to take your class outside you pretty much just tell the Secretary and then off you go.

So it's been a little odd for me being here, especially since this is my first week of teaching...ever! well...on my own at least, but I think given some time things will in fact get better.  Talking with the other teachers has been very useful though since I get to learn from their experiences.  They often have a lot of good ideas that have worked well in the past for them that I would not have even thought of on my own.

Friday was a Pedagogy day this week and myself and 5 other teachers took some time to set up the science lab.  The lab here actually has an impressive array of equipment, most of which is not being used.  I saw microscopes, dissecting microscopes, a centrifuge, a static electricity generator and a large assortment of models and kits.  Given the large amount of free time that exists at the end of the year, I think I may try and take advantage of some of these things.

After school Gillian decided to have a few of us over for a weekly dinner night.  This week they wanted to do pizza so I actually started my dough on our lunch break and finished it off when I got home.  We had dinner and talked about random stuff and played this weird Inuit game that I've never heard of, but the kids are apparently pretty addicted to it.

So this game is called ruk-shuk and it's basically about making little stone towers.  You pick out different coloured stones and they are worth a certain amount of points.  The ones that are worth more points are actually oddly shaped and much harder to stack on top of each other which is why they're worth more points.  On the left is Joetta and on the right is Heather.  Joetta teaches special ed. and Heather is my Math/Science counter part.  Its a fun game, but its also pretty frustrating since the towers tend to fall down quite easily.

Now that its the weekend I'm going to start making some more lesson plans for the next couple weeks and spend some time just relaxing and watching t.v. and playing some xbox.

I've had some requests to see what the apartment looks like here.  I actually made a video using my computer, but when I tried to upload it to youtube the stupid server rejected the file.  I managed to send it to Ashley through skype though so she'll post it on my account whenever she gets the chance.

** Update - Ashley uploaded my video onto my youtube account.  You can watch it here **

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Week 1 in Kangiqsualujjuaq

Alright, here I am at the end of my first week (kinda).  Friday was kinda cool, one of the teachers (Luc) sent out a mass email to everyone about having a get together at his place.  Given the fact that I had absolutely nothing else I do I figured I would go.  I got there around 7:30 and realized immediately that I was surrounded by francophones.  Aww well, I guess it's time to brush up on my French.  Fortunately there is another teacher (Heather) that came and she speaks no French whatsoever which made me feel a little bit better...haha.

Anyway, I left Luc's house around 12:45 and went to bed!  Somehow I managed to sleep in until almost 10! it's been a long time since that has happened.  Feeling well rested I decided that I would climb some mountain! I was especially motivated given that it is Blueberry season here and I want some berries!

On my way through town I snapped some pictures.

Here's the grocery store called the northern Co-op.  There's actually another place just like this one down the road a bit and it sells pretty much the same stuff.  I believe I mentioned before that the North has the secret to dieting with Chips costing about $7 a bag and pop costing $21 a case (12 pack)  well here's the proof!

I actually haven't had much food lately and I'm too cheap to pay the exorbitant prices that I see in this store.  I did however break down and buy a bag of chips.  At 5.49 it was a steal!

Here's a picture of my house.  There's actually 4 of us living here, but the apartments are pretty spacious.  Including myself there are 3 new teachers in here.  Its not much to look at from the outside but they are actually pretty nice on the inside.  My whole place has new hardwood and they repainted the walls.  The rust looking tank on the side is my water tank.  They come around every day (except Sunday) to bring water and take away sewage.

And now here is a stop sign.  I thoroughly enjoy the fact that even though we are in Quebec the signs are in English and Inuktitut, not French...haha

On my hike I decided to get some wild blueberries (so I can make a pie when my stuff gets here).  In general the blueberries are everywhere so to speak, but not in a high density.  Every so often though you will stumble on a patch like this one which makes gathering much easier.  I managed to get a medium Ziploc full.  Not quite enough for my purposes but very close!  Maybe I'll get more tomorrow if it doesn't rain.

Finally, we have a semi-panoramic picture of Kangiqsualujjuaq that I made from stitching together several pictures I took from the top of the mountain.  I also labeled it somewhat so that you can get the idea of where everything is in the town.

I figure next I'll put up some pictures of my house and my classroom, although I might wait until my stuff gets here before I do that. Both look a little bit sad at the moment.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Journey Begins - Part 3: To Kangiqsualujjuaq

Well, I finally made it to Kangiqsualujjuaq.  But lets rewind for a moment here and talk about the super-boring day I had while I was in Kuujjuaq.  We rescheduled my flight since I got all the information I needed from the pedagogy councellor and I was supposed to get on the 9:30 flight....woohoo! So I went to the airport around 8 so that I would have plenty of time.  Around 8:30 they tell us that the flight is delayed until 1:30 since they needed the current plane for something else.  That's a bit of a pain, but 4 hours is okay I guess.  I figured I could tough it out.  Around 12:30 they tell us that the flight is canceled and I'm going on the 3:30 flight.  At this point I'm kinda pissed off since if I had known that I would have just gone into town and got something to eat.  The major problem lay in the fact that it is about a 3-4km walk into town from the airport.  On the plus side I went out for a short walk and got a picture of the town.

So I gave up and started eating out of the vending machine (which actually turned out to be not much more expensive than your average airport machines with everything costing around $2.  I ended up getting a bag of chips and 2 bounty bars (So much for healthy eating).  Around 2:00 the guy comes by and says that there are further delays until 6:30.  At this point I'm wondering if I'm actually going to make it outta there in the same day.  Evidently I wasn't the only one who was bored since some little kid started throwing his stuffed frog at me and we ended up playing pass the from for about half an hour...

So as you can see from this picture, it is actually literally IMPOSSIBLE to actually get lost or confused in the Kuujjuaq airport.   There are the two counters you see here and about 40 seats.  Anyway, we took off at 6:30, finally!!!

So this was definitely the smallest aircraft I've ever been on!  I think the total amount of seating was for about 10 people.  It was kinda neat though I could see the GPS in the pilots cabin and track how far we'd gone.  I found that I actually don't mind being on these small planes.  Although the fact that we were only in the air for about 35 minutes probably helped.  Anywho, the fog was pretty thick and we just managed to get into Kangiqsualujjuaq.  About an hour after landing the fog started to hit the ground.  Fortunately the principal Mark and another teacher came by the airport to pick me up and drive me into town.  Mark and his wife Nancy had me over at their house for dinner.  It was a great change from stale chips and chocolate bars.  I think I'll take some more pictures this weekend to give you an idea of what this town is like.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Journey Begins - Part 2: To Kuujjuaq

So this morning I got up around 6am in order to get the shuttle to the airport for my 8am flight.  I managed to get through security fairly well considering the guy was speaking French, but I suppose my understanding is good enough! I got a little lost on my way to the gate, but I figured it out eventually.

So here's my plane.  It was little but not too little.  I think it said the seating limit was 76 or something.  The flight was alright.  I had cereal for breakfast on there with fruit and a muffin.  Not too shabby.  Glad I didn't go with the eggs (they didn't look too good).  The weird thing was that the flight was full of hunters.  Apparently Kuujjuaq is a big destination for them; who knew?  Anyway, the funny thing is that the landing strip is a little bit too short and the pilot had to actually turn the plane around after landing and drive back to the airport.

So here is the giant Kuujjuaq  There is a counter for First Air and Air Inuit. The good thing is that it is literally impossible to get lost in this place.  Anywho, fortunately there was someone there to pick me up and took me to the pedagogy councilors house.  She gave me a better idea of what was in the curriculum and what to expect from the students and parents.  I'm glad I stopped here since I learned quite a bit and managed to get some good resources as well!  Looks like the last day of school before the Christmas break is December 21!

After finishing off for the day we went on a trip around Kuujjuaq so that I could get a look at everything.  The grocery store was larger than I thought it would be and had a pretty good selection, although the pop was $11 for a 2L and a can of diced tomatoes was around $3.75.  We went all the way to the top of this hill where there is a radar dome.  It was neat since it gave a really good view of everything.

One of the weird things I noticed was that there is a whole lot of dogs around here.  I said a German Shepherd, Huskies and all kinds of mutts.  On our trip to the radar ball we saw two dog sled teams just kinda tied up in the middle of nowhere, it was a little weird.  At least if I want to get a dog I won't have to look too hard.  Anyway, I got myself a modem and I have 512Mb of bandwidth a day so I should be good to go! tomorrow I depart for Kangiqsualujjuaq.  Hopefully my house will be as nice as the one I'm in now!

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Journey Begins - Part 1: To Montreal

So today was the first leg of my journey from Delhi to Kangiqsualujjuaq.  Ashley and I got up around 8am and made our way to Burlington by 10am.  From there we went with my parents to Dim Sum at the Dragon Mall in Mississauga. 

This is one of those traditional places where the people actually come around with the carts and you pick what you want off of them.  It was a great time! I haven't been to one of those places in a long time. Ashley had a good time with it too I think.  We usually only go to the Dim Sum places where you have to order in advance off of the menu.

From there we went to Pearson and I got on my flight to Montreal.  Now that is a quick flight! we were in the air for about 45minutes.  Essentially enough time to get your drink, get the cup taken away and then it's landing time.  On the plus side Air Canada actually has monitors on the backs of all the seats now.  It makes traveling much more fun and easy, but in this case I only got to see about 20min of Rango before it was time to land.

Anywho, It took a while for the baggage to get there.  Once I got my stuff and exited the airport I realized that I had no idea where the shuttle for the hotel was supposed to come.

I figured it out when I saw a mini-bus drive by with Comfort Inn printed on it; sadly that one drove away before I could actually get there.  After waiting around for about 45 minutes for another one I called the hotel and found out that the buses are on-call.  Who knew?  Anyway, once he came the drive was only about 5 minutes.  The hotel was good enough, pretty much what you would expect for $100 a night.

So I used the low-speed wifi and had a rather nice conversation with my Ashley on skype.  Hopefully the connection will be as good out in Kangiqsualujjuaq.  If so it won't be so bad.  We had a look around for places to eat and I went to Barbie's Restaurant in Dorval.

I figured I could use a walk so I walked the 2.4km to get there.  Haha, I know the place looks a little sketchy from this angle, but it was actually quite good.  The food was good and priced reasonably.  The service was friendly and quick.  I made it there around 6:30 and was good to go around 7:00.  Afterwards it was a nice 25min walk back to the hotel.  It really amazes me how many people actually speak English in Montreal.

Tomorrow will be part 2 of the journey as I fly from Montreal to Kuujjuaq.