Thursday, May 29, 2014

Well, here we are.

Tell me: how do two weeks go by so quickly?

I have been meaning to write something new for a while now, but I had absolutely no idea it'd been two weeks, and I think it's mostly a testament to how wild and crazy the last 15 days have been. Since returning from a whirlwind trip to the US for Yale graduation, I've been making my way through an equally crazy time here, and the busy-ness is just beginning to wind down. Here's a little trip through my last two weeks:

(Even writing "last two weeks" I am flummoxed. Has it actually been that many days? How and why did it all start happening so fast?)



Not much to say here, really - I didn't get back from New Haven until May 20th, and by that point there were only 3 school days left. One of my classes, having lost 7 seniors (they don't have to attend the final week), was down to 6, and so those last few days felt more like a chance to hang out with my students and casually wind down the year than actual days of class time.

Not only that, but of those three remaining school days, only one was actually a normal school schedule! That was the first day. The second day was

2: PROM.

Which is a big deal here. Like, shortened-school-day big. And they do the campus up right. This year was World-Cup-themed, and we were all decked out in Brazilian flag colors:

The students dress to the nines and arrive at a red-carpet reception, and we teachers did the same: you actually walk through a gauntlet of people and get your picture taken and the whole shebang. I have done a fair number of things in my life, but that was not one of them until last Thursday. Still don't have those pictures though...

The event itself is also a total blowout. People have been telling us for months that "the campus is transformed" for prom (using that exact phrase), and I have to say that it certainly didn't look like the courtyard outside the library usually looks. DJ and dance floor, of course, as well as popcorn and ice cream machines, massive buffet spreads, couches and tables moved outdoors, and all manner of lights and flags and decorations. Here's the party in full swing:

Like any good movie-cliché high school, we even elect a prom king and queen (not to mention prince and princess for the juniors), and you will have to take me at my word that there were fireworks when their names were announced. Like I said, we go big for this thing.

Then afterwards the students make a break for it and rent out Amman's swankiest event halls for their post-prom. We get together in a faculty apartment and have some fun of our own. I stayed up late that night.

So that was the second day of school left. The third, and final, was


No pictures here. Know why? Because it's a state affair, that's why. 

As of about 4pm after the school day had wrapped up, His Majesty's security detail was on campus. Dorms got locked up, metal detectors got set up, and the students were confined to the auditorium (except for a few singers, who joined me to perform at a development event for the dedication of a newly-named classroom. Further proof that singing for swanky events and little chocolaty hors d'oeuvres never has to end).

The event itself is also quite a show. The whole underclassman student body, as well as the faculty, line up along "Commencement Walk," and the seniors process down past us, led by Their Majesties themselves. There was a lot of walking through gauntlets of people the last week, now that I think about it. I guess it does make things feel pretty celebratory.

And because of the head honcho's tight schedule, the event is pretty quick: a few students get awards and deliver addresses, the Queen (this year's speaker) gives a lovely commencement speech, names are read and diplomas are given, and then we process in a big giant mosh to the square outside the dining hall, where everyone hugs and cries and takes pictures and leaves forever. 

It is a little weird to think that I'll never see the seniors again (although a half-dozen of them have already friended me on Facebook). I liked them and I'll miss them. Also, let's pause to consider that I work at a high school at which graduating seniors receive their diplomas from THE KING OF THE COUNTRY. I may never stop looking around and thinking "what on earth am I doing here."


There are always other things, in and around these final days of school, and here are some of them:

- The senior awards night dinner, at which I conducted the Glee Club (they sounded great and the mic'ing was INCREDIBLE for outdoors) and gave out the Choral Award, which I was sort of surprised to learn was actually an award. But we had a senior singer who deserved it, so she got it!

- Oh, also, two days before graduation Pope Francis came to Jordan. And we went. Look!

So in between all this school madness, I was that close to the Pope in a big stadium full of people where he led a partly-Italian, partly-Arabic mass. Frankly, the best parts where when he entered and exited on that awesome Popemobile, because the mass was hard to understand and no one in our section of the stadium seemed to care that much anyway.

But it's still pretty awesome and pretty once-in-a-lifetime to find oneself in such a place. Here's a picture of some priests (you can make out their white-and-gold umbrellas) spelunking into the crowd to dole out a massive communion:

To be honest, most of what we remember is this abominably catchy song, which played about eight thousand times before His Holiness arrived. His face, and this melody, may be forever etched in our memories.

5: NOW?

Yeah, good question: what are we doing now? It's been three days since graduation, although to be honest it feels like a million (time is really doing cartwheels around me right now), and I am 14 final papers away from being done with my first year as a teacher. Mustering the energy to grade them will certainly be a challenge, but I've got it blocked into my schedule today, which I call a good start.

Other than that? Just wrapped up 3 days of Professional Development with some folks from CollegeBoard who gave us a very productive and quite engaging 12ish hours of activities, strategies, and discussions about reading/writing/analyzing/other schooly stuff. I'm glad it's over because I don't have to do anything any more, but I'm also bummed it's over because I don't get to do anything any more. I was even too lazy to go shopping in Madaba this afternoon, and am here trying to eke out some productivity points by writing this blog post instead. 

Home beckons in about a week, and until then:

- PARTIES. Rooftop barbecue; department dinner; student graduation party; goodbye party for a special TF friend; goodbye daytime barbecue for all departing faculty; real goodbye party with Haram beverages for departing faculty; FINAL goodbye dinner for everyone. 

(That's seven parties in the next seven days, and despite the fact that one spills right into another, something tells me at least one more Fun Event will rear its head before I get on a plane out of this place).

- A few more meetings, probably totaling a couple hours.

- My personal goals: starting to get ready for next year's classes and the summer work I have to do, packing up and preparing to move (oh yeah - I'm moving in with Chase next year! Nothing more to report there except that I think it'll be fun to live with him and actually be in a dorm), and getting bored enough that I actually want to be productive. I have a lot of free time so I think I might actually be able to make that part happen.

This might be my second-to-last post before the summer begins, and I think I'll go on a hiatus and start a food blog? Definitely still up in the air. For now, at least, don't touch that dial; I'm sure you all want to hear about all the parties I'm going to in the next week. Right?

(Oh yeah - and that Wadi Rum music video finally got released!! I still haven't seen my face, but you can see Alli and Jimmy and I think you can make out my sweatshirt. Still totally worth it.)

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