Hurghada

Herghada is Egypt’s main tourist center and the second largest Egyptian city located on the Red Sea Coast.  Christine and I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Hurghada.  We stayed at a beautiful resort with a private beach on the Red Sea.  Because it was off season, they were desperate for tourists.  There was very few people at the resort when we were there which made our visit even better.  Herghada is mainly a variety of hotels and resorts.  There are very little local areas to explore.

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There was a lazy river that ran around the whole resort.  You could grab tubes and float around the resort.  There were a variety of different pools around the hotel to chose from, as well as a rooftop hot tub.  There was also a children’s area, as well as a waterslide area for adults.

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We went on our first submarine right in the Red Sea! We saw a variety of different kinds of fish, clams the size of a car, and sunken ships at the bottom of the sea.

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We spent the rest of the weekend at the beach.  There was no snorkelling at this area of the Red Sea.  However, there were beach chairs and huts set up along the water, waiters bringing you refreshments, and activates such as zoomba on the beach and beach volleyball. 16358542_10154021304381082_664280224_n.jpg16359214_10154021304856082_1536716729_n.jpg

Movember

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The month of November has arrived.  This marks the start of Movember.  When I was in school, we celebrated Movember with No Shave November.  At the time, I did not understand the cause behind Movember. However, when it was introduced in my school this year, I decided to better research it to help educate my students and realized how crucial this foundation is.

Movember is a time to support mens health.  Most people identify it with a time where men do not shave their mustache for a full 30 days, but it’s also about raising money for a good cause. This campaign started because men were dying too young.  The foundation states that, “Our fathers, partners, brothers and friends face a health crisis that isn’t being talked about”.  Movember aims to bring awareness to prostate cancer, testicular cancer, men’s mental health and suicide prevention.  The goal of the organization is to raise awareness about different different mens health issues to help men live happier, healthier, longer lives.

There are a variety of ways that you can make a difference.  You can donate online at the Movember Foundation.  You can spread the word! Help raise awareness about different mens health issues.

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At my school they are raising funds in a variety of ways.  Our school uses the terms Mo Bro and Mo Sista.  A Mo Bro refers to boys who participate in Movember. A Mo Sista refers to girls who contribute to Movember.  If students reach 16 thousand pounds, two teachers have volunteered to shave their heads.  These volunteers have really helped engage the students and bring out their competitive side.  Boys can participate in no shave November, girls can buy ticket to support them, and there is a photo booth set up to involve the elementary.

In my classroom we are learning about the importance of Movember. I have used this as an opportunity to discuss with students different charities and issues related to charities.  I found a wonderful lesson plan online that helps introduce students to Movember. It contains great ideas to help you start thinking about how to introduce your students to Movember and help get them thinking about how they can make a difference! We have also decorated our classroom with a moustache theme to remind us of our goal.

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Teaching in Egypt

As I write this, we are on our 34th day of school! The time has flown by, it seems like just yesterday I was preparing my classroom for the first day of school.  School has been busy to say the least.

Teaching in Egypt has been a positive experience overall, although there are many things I didn’t expect.  I have grown to care about my students very much.  I find that building relationships with students is the most important part of teaching.  When I came back from Canada my students had planned a surprise party for me.  They made decorations, hung balloons and brought snacks for a party.  It makes you realize what a strong connection you can make with your students in a short period of time.

Our school provides many opportunites for students to get involved in after school activities, as well as get extra help.  Students have the chance to attend tutoring sessions we provide, they are able to visit the science lab where they can do fun experiments, there can participate in inter-murals or after school activities.  At Heritage, the students also have classes with specialized teachers.  The students go to other teachers for French, Arabic, Religion, Art, Music, and Phys. Ed.  Therefore, we generally have 2-3 preps per day.  This would be perfect for planning and marking, however, it is mandatory to drop off, and pick up students from classes with takes the majority of the period.  Still, it is more periods of planning then I have had in the past which I appreciate.

The culture in Egypt is very loud.  Classroom management is important in Canada, however, it is crucial in Egyptian classrooms.  Because the culture is very loud, you need to start off very strict in order to establish routines in the classroom.  Males are highly respected in Egypt, therefore as a female teacher, male students tend to not be as respectful, which you need to address immediately.

The school itself was an adjustment.  People answer yes to questions, even when the answer is no because they dislike confrontation.  So if you ask someone to fix your air conditioning in your classroom, people will answer yes even if no one is coming to fix it.  They will tell you anything to make you happy, even if it is not true.  This can be unfortunate and hard to deal with, especially if you have 40 degree weather and no air conditioning.

My class is currently preparing for Halloween! We have a Halloween bulletin board, decorated windows, bat garland, fun Halloween assignments displayed, and my students have taken the time to decorate the classroom with spooky Halloween decorations such as ghosts and skeletons! There is a door decoration contest at the school, so my Grade 3 students voted on the door design they wanted! This is the design we decided on!

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You can also see our Halloween bulletin board! The students made bats, using their hand print as the wings.  We are studying patterns in math, so the students created an increasing or decreasing pattern to go on their bat.  The board says: Batty About Math

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I like to write my students a good morning message and picture every morning! They look forward to seeing it when they walk in and always try to guess what will be on the board the next day! Below and above are some of my morning messages from Halloween, and from spirit week.

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Though the students can be a little loud at times, I appreciate the time I get to spend with them.  I love the little things, like those Ah Ha moments when a student finally understands a tough concept, seeing students excitement when they connect with a lesson or topic and seeing their creativity and unique ideas displayed in their work.  It makes me excited to come to work every morning.

 

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Just like the been seeds we planted, I look forward to watching my students grow throughout the year

Let’s Talk

On January 27, 2016 Bell held it’s annual Bell Lets Talk Day. Bell Let’s Talk is a wide-reaching, multi-year program designed to break the silence around mental illness and support mental health across Canada. People all around the world joined the conversation including Justin Beiber, Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Trudeau. In 2016 alone, Bell Lets Talk Day raised $6,295,764.75 dollars to help create a stigma-free Canada.

This is a topic that is close to my heart. I recently had someone very special to me take their own life. Throughout this time I have had so many people share their own stories. Stories I was not aware of. It seems everyone has a story or an experience. Sharing our experiences could impact and save the life of others. We need to start the conversation and raise awareness to the topic of mental ilness everyday.

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As a teacher this is also crucial in the classroom. It is so important for students to feel comfortable sharing and to help end the stigma against mental illnesses. As teachers we need to educate ourselves and create conversations early on. We need to open up the conversation and create a supportive community. It is important for kids to realize that they are not alone. Mental health can happen to anyone and there are people who care and are there to help. Mental health is important for all ages to know about and understand. My biggest hope is to continue the conversation and help change the world around us.

Weekend Getaway

This weekend we took a vacation to Dahab! Dahab is located on the Red Sea.  The view is beautiful! You can see the Red Sea, mountains and Saudi Arabia across the sea!

There are two different ways to get to Dahab! You can fly (for around 200 Canadian dollars) or you can take a bus (for around 30 Canadian dollars).  The bus ride is around 12 hours, depending on the length of checkpoints.  We decided to take the private bus with 6 of our friends.  Although it was significantly cheaper it was quite the disaster.  You pass over 30 checkpoints on the drive.  Our driver would usually handle these, giving them our passports and dealing with the paperwork.  These could range from one minute to half an hour.  We reached one checkpoint where we didn’t have the correct paperwork and had to wait an hour for a new bus to take us.  On the way back we were turned away at one checkpoint and had to travel all the way back and take another route which added an extra five hours to our journey.

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Dahab is a tourist area! It has a shopping strip with markets where you have to barter for everything you buy. We bought various small items at the markets as souvenirs! I bought a pair of Egyptian Harlem pants that are very popular in Egypt!

 

 

 

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Our hotel was located right on the water.  Breakfast was included and was delicious! The waiter surprised us one morning and wrote our names in arabic in chocolate sauce on our pancakes! A major part of their breakfast is falafels! Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas! Being from a farm that grows chickpeas, this was very neat to see.

 

 

 

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Our hotel had a beautiful view!

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Enjoying the Red Sea

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The first day we spent the day swimming in the Red Sea.  The sea is very salty! It is  easy to float! The water is very clear and you can see fish swimming around you!

 

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The second day we went on a Bedouin dinner!  We rode camels through the desert to a campfire they had set up.  They cooked us dinner under the stars.

Bedouins are wandering tribes in the Red Sea and Sinai Peninsula. Dinner was at a camp set up as an exhibition of Bedouins’ lifestyle and culture.  It contains a tent, low tables and a man wearing galabia and a black and white scarf around his head serving you tea. The open buffet dinner is an exceptional one. But coal is the key. Chicken and kofta are grilled directly on the coal, while the rice and potatoes are cooked over the coal fire too. We then spend the night star watching (we saw many shooting stars) and experimenting with light photography.

 

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Heading through the mountains

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Taking the jeep to the Bedouin Dinner

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We used a flashlight and a slow flash setting to write 22! 

 

 

 

Throughout the vacation we ate at various restaurants along the strip! All of the restaurants were located on the sea and had a beautiful view! We tried milkshakes with original flavors such as fresh oranges and mangoes.

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Mango Vanilla Milkshake

We tried many different kinds of food! We tried seafood linguini, sushi, chicken swarma, and many other dishes.  We ate the Egyptian desert referred to as Hot and Cold.  It is a very thin pastry with cinnamon and vanilla ice cream. We also ate at a bakery that had amazing deserts such as blueberry cream pie and chocolate banana brownies.

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There are stray cats and dogs all over Egypt! They were very friendly in Dahab and seem to be very well groomed.

 

 

 

 

 

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View from the restaurant

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Day and Night View

The second day we went snorkeling in the Red Sea! We started at the world famous spot called the Blue Hole! Blue Hole is a diving location on east Sinai, a few kilometres north of Dahab,Egypt on the coast of the Red Sea. The Blue Hole is around 94 m (300 feet) deep. There is a shallow opening around 6 m deep, known as “the saddle”, opening out to the sea, and a 26 m long tunnel, known as “the arch”, whose top is at a depth of 56 m (184 feet). The hole and the surrounding area have an abundance of coral and reef fish.

Next we took a boat to a National Park! There we went snorkeling and were served a lunch buffet of traditional Egyptian food such as fresh fish, chicken and rice.  The location had a variety of different kinds of choral! We also saw rainbow fish, sting ray, angel fish, star fish, and many other!

Next we took a jeep to a smaller area with a sandy beach for swimming! It was a long day, but an amazing experience

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We spent a day relaxing at the pool with a view of the Red Sea and climbing the mountains behind our hotel!

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Climbing the mountains behind our hotel!

 

 

 

 

I was lucky to have the opportunity to celebrate my birthday at Dahab! We spent the day quading through the desert and along the Red Sea! The tour guide was definitely not used to Saskatchewan girls who knew how to drive a quad.  We watched the group before us and they had to spend half the trip trying to teach the ladies how to drive in a straight line! We had supper at a restaurant recommended as having the best food in Dahab! A large group of my teaching friends came to celebrate.  I really appreciated spending the day with my new family overseas!

Overall we had an amazing trip! Dahab is beautiful! If anyone decides to come to Egypt I would love to be their travel guide…..

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Pyramids of Giza

Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 5.00.57 PM.pngLast week we visited the Pyramids of Giza! The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  The Great Pyramid of Giza is part of a larger complex called the Giza Necropolis. There are two other major pyramids in the complex including the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure. It also includes the Great Sphinx and several cemeteries. All three pyramids are in a row facing North!

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The weather was plus 40 when we were there.  Even though it was very hot, there were still lots of tourists as you can see in this photo!

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People try to make money at the pyramids by selling camel rides, horse and carriage rides, and selling souvenirs.

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Because we were only there a short period of time, we did not have time to visit everything! We did take hundreds of photos, climb part of the pyramid, and I even fit in the time to facetime my boyfriend back in Canada so he had the chance to see the pyramids! You are able to tour the inside the pyramids, as well as a museum with a boat inside.  I look forward to going back and spending more time at the pyramids. Although next time we will take multiple bottles of water!

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As you can tell, we had a great visit to the pyramids!

Welcome to Egypt!

I have officially arrived in Egypt! I am travelling, living and teaching with a very close friend! We attended the University of Regina together for four years! The past week has been a whirlwind and it feels like I have been here much longer than a week! So far we have picked out an apartment and moved in, toured 6th of October and began setting up my classroom!

Our first task when arriving in Egypt was picking out an apartment.  Our apartment is a five minute walk to the school which is very beneficial and part of the reason we chose it! We actually won our apartment in a coin toss, as it was the popular apartment.  We have three bedrooms (new beds and furniture), three bathrooms, a dining room, two balconies, two living rooms (new couches), and a kitchen with new appliances.  We got a bigger apartment because we had the budget of two teachers.  Although we are very cheap and close off half the house so we only have to air condition half! Everything has been good with our apartment except… killing two cockroaches! Luckily we haven’t seen any since the first day!

A problem travelling throughout Egypt has been communicating with people who only speak Arabic! Although quite a few people speak small amounts of English, it can cause problems when trying to give a driver directions, or order a meal.  Our very first time eating in a restaurant in Egypt our server thought we wanted a completely new order of our food, rather than the bill.  We quickly learning the word for bill.  We are also learning basic words like right, left, yes, no, sorry, hello, and thank you.  We are hoping to take an Arabic class to help us navigate Egypt.

I have never taught in such a large school! There are 17 brand new teachers in the school so we are not the only teachers who are completely lost! My classroom is coming along nicely, but I still have a long way to go! My friend Christine and I are both teaching grade 3.  Therefore we are planning and preparing for the year together.  Below is my classroom as well as a view from my classroom door.  I have never been so thankful for air conditioning! The average temperature has been plus 36-41 degrees since I have been here!

 

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View of my classroom.  Still a working progress

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Front of my classroom so far!

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View from my classroom door!

The time difference has made communicating with family, and friends at home slightly difficult.  Another adjustment has been the change in weekends.  The first work day in Egypt is Sunday, and there weekend is Friday and Saturday.  As well, on power bars in the house green means off and red means on.  After we figured this out, it was much easier to turn on our washing machine.

We have noticed that Egyptian society is not very self sufficient!   We have a bowap (basically a 24/7 caretaker) outside our building, who insists on carrying our groceries to our apartment.  To travel around 6th of October we have to rely on a driver.  At our school you can not get materials, laminate, print, etc. by yourself! There are workers to do everything for you! Which can make tasks take longer than usual! It is quite the adjustment!

Although we do have to rely on a driver we have explored quite a lot of 6th of October! Mainly malls, and markets which are not what you expect.  I was imagining farmer’s markets, however in Egypt markets mean grocery stores similar to Canada.

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Although we have tried small amounts of Egyptian food, we find the majority is North American food.  There are cinobuns, KFC, Fridays, etc.  By far the best thing I have tried is fresh mango juice! It is very delicious.  It is almost as thick as a smoothie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This weekend we are planning our first trip to the pyramids! We are travelling to the Giza Pyramids! These pyramids are very close to our apartment (we saw them driving from the airport, as well as landing in Egypt).  However, these pyramids you cannot tour the inside.

Pictures to follow!