I am looking forward to...

Good-bye summer!!

Here are some things I'm looking forward to this fall...

Teaching with iPods this year.

We are continuing our use of iTech in PE this year, but now instead of the teachers only using our personal iPhones or an iPad in class, each student will be assigned an iPod for personal use during PE class time.  Using iPods in class will allow us to differentiate our instruction discretely, grade objectively, assess for skill proficiency more accurately, empower students with options,  build student portfolios of progression on their student website, improve students' intrinsic value of wellness and allow for a better home-school connection.  Gone will be the days of parents asking their child, "What did you learn today?" and receiving an "I don't know" in return!  They will already know what their child had learned from looking at their results posted on their student website.  This will also allow the teachers to go "green" and lessen the amount of paperwork and student work that accumulates throughout the year in our filing cabinets that ends up in the trash in June.

Moving to Puxi.

I can't wait to be closer to my favorite dance and yoga studios, spend more time with my Spanish and Italian friends, get more involved with couchsurfing events, dance with the Shanghai Sharks cheerleaders, have more opportunities to network and make new friends.

Visiting the migrant school with my dance team in September.

Last year my team visited an elderly care center to perform for and socialize with the residents. The experience was meaningful for some of the girls, but not for all of them. I think this was mostly due to the fact that a lot of these third culture kids are not raised in close proximity to their grandparents, and are not used to interacting with elderly people.  The girls also voted for visiting a migrant school vs visiting the elderly care center again, so I arranged for a visit on September 14th to the WILL foundation, in collaboration with my colleague David who has been working with the organization for the past few years.  As the boys at this foundation are not English speakers, we plan to teach them simple dances/songs like the Hokey Pokey and then perform a short dance.  We'll also be helping out at the school with activities like gardening, or painting murals. It should be a good learning experience for the girls.

Traveling to Xiamen with the 6th graders.

Last year I traveled with the same group to Nanbeihu when they were fifth graders. This is one wild bunch.  We have also never been on this trip, so I really have no idea what's in store for us, but I heard there's surfing involved. Either way, it should be a fun trip with fun kids.

Traveling to the Philippines with my dance team for a service learning trip during our October holiday.

We still have to book and finalize our plane tickets.  This one's still up in the air because as time marches on, the prices keep getting more and more expensive.  Inshallah, i will have good news regarding this trip next week!

Traveling to Seattle for the IADMS dance conference mid October.

There will be experts from the dance medicine field there, offering seminars on dancer injury prevention, nutrition, and methods for teaching improved alignment. There will also be movement and somatic practices workshops. I'm most interested in learning more about the Alexander technique. Lastly, it will be fun to explore Seattle a little bit, since I've never been there.

Traveling to Beijing with my dance team for the APAC festival mid November.

I've done plenty of blogging about this festival for the past two years.  It's always been a really fun four days of non stop dancing, international collaboration and a great exhibition of awesome choreography; especially the student fusion pieces. This year, the Western Academy of Beijing will be hosting the event.  Above all, I'm really excited to see my colleagues from the other international schools in Asia. The coach dinner is always a rowdy, fun time!  I'll also be able to meet up with a TCNJ colleague who has just started his overseas career, and is in his first year of teaching PE at ISB.

Heading back to school is always an exciting time for students and teachers alike, but at Concordia, our fall season is jammed with event after event.  It always seems to fly by so fast, but I hope to better enjoy it this year and practice being mindful in each moment.

I'm off to go receive my keys to my new apartment.  Here's to respecting the past, looking forward to the future, and enjoying the present moment.  Namaste!

paz.amor.felicidad siempre <3

Why I feel sorry for kids in this generation....

Although I appreciate the convenience of technology, and all of the good ways technology has made our human lives more efficient, I really resent the way technology has interrupted the beauty of face to face communication.  As a kid, I always loved going out to eat with my family in restaurants because it meant we could relax, sit at a big table, and talk and socialize for hours in a way we didn't at home (my mother worked during the day, and my father worked nights, so we didn't normally share meals together).  Whether I'm in the US, Spain or China, I've noticed that going out to eat is more common in this generation.  Perhaps because my peers and I grew up with microwaves, or people are not as partial to eating "mama's home cookin'", or maybe because eating at home really isn't as cost efficient as it used to be (at least according to this study by the USDA).

In my humble opinion, I think going out to eat should be a special treat for kids to enjoy with their families.  Yet how can they enjoy the experience if they don't communicate face to face?  Now I'm sure critics said the same thing when the telephone or even the television was invented; that the technology would change the dynamic of family communication.  Now it seems we've arrived to a new [worse] level of disconnect as parents spend 40+ minutes in a restaurant without speaking to their child once!  At least kids in the States have siblings to talk to; here in China, most families only have one child, and if the kids don't speak with their parents during meal time, who should they socialize with?

They interact with their iPad...

He pulled out his iPad after being ignored for 40 minutes.  This family literally did not talk for the ENTIRE meal.

Then people wonder why children can't sit still in class for longer than 5 minutes without becoming antsy-they're always connected to something digital!  They're always being overstimulated by lights, sounds, flashing screens, etc.

If parents aren't demonstrating the behavior of positive and effective questioning and communication with their children, how are kids supposed to know how to do it themselves?  How are kids supposed to know how to communicate well with their peers?

When adults sit at the dinner table with the phone/gadget in their hands, it's very rude behavior.  However, I think it's more damaging when parents do it to their kids, and perhaps families of this generation would be better off if gadgets were banned from the dinner table.

What do you think?  Should we be talking or texting with our companions at the dinner table?

paz.amor.felicidad siempre <3

Things I am good at...

writing journals...

I've been writing a journal since I was in middle school.  It's so amazing to re-read my thoughts as a teen, and then try to remember that voice as I'm working with teens at my current school.  My favorite quote to myself:

Don't let anyone EVER tell you that you can't be what YOU want to be!


My mom taught me how to thread a needle and do basic hand sewing at around age 4 or 5, but I always marveled at her sewing machine, and it was a real joy when she let me use it for the first time.  Ever since then, I've always enjoyed crafting and sewing, although I don't get to do it often here in Shanghai.

learning languages......

I never thought I was good at learning languages, until I had a reason to keep practicing Spanish, and ended up progressing really quickly (thanks to a very handsome Spaniard, I might add!).

finding bargains........

My co-workers tease me about this, but they never seem to complain when I find a cool free app for them!  Or free teacher subscriptions to random things like Hallmark smilebox.  I really love flea markets too, like El Rastro in Madrid, to find unique and quirky things!

making connections......

I have a knack for building rapport with people quickly, and my favorite thing in the world is when new friends or acquaintances tell me they feel like they've known me for a long time.


I have been dancing for all of my life.  I feel most alive when I am dancing.

teaching others in patient ways...

I was never very patient.  I'm still not, with a lot of things.  I'm always patient with kids though, which they appreciate.  I feel I've also gotten much better at being patient in general, thanks to my experiences living overseas.  In Spain, life moves veryyyyyy slow, so being an impatient New Yorker did not serve me well.  Also, beautiful things like watching a sunset take time!  In China, it seems like things never go as planned, and it's absolutely essential to learn how to go with a new flow (the time when I had satellite TV installed comes to mind).

making a difference......

I try to live each day in a way that leaves the world a better place.  When I make someone's day a bit brighter, I feel so blessed and privileged to have had an opportunity to do so.

That all being said, I wish you a bright and happy day today.

paz.amor.felicidad siempre <3.

14 things about myself..

I love my NY friends.  They are a loud, crazy, mostly Italian bunch of guys and gals who are the funniest, sweetest people you'd ever want to have for friends.  We've been friends since the '90s, and it's been great!

I love coaching dance and cheer teams.  Cheer teams are awesome to work with as the girls get stronger together, and are able to physically lift each other up, but mentally support each other as well.  It's been a privilege to help girls become more empowered and cooperate in meaningful ways.
I love my family.  I have two sisters; one older, one younger.  I loved this night because I gifted my family chopsticks for Christmas this year, and took them all out to dinner to practice using them at a Japanese restaurant.  I'm still waiting for them to start traveling with me, but in the interim, I'll keep trying to bring the world to them.
I love the interesting, worldly people I meet here in Shanghai.  I've been so inspired by my friends here, as they are all so ambitious and driven.  I'm so grateful for all the laughs and fun times we've shared!
I love the flowers in Spain.  I also love the clothing company Desigual because the clothes are so colorful, wild and fun.  Like their slogan says, "la vida es chula" (in this photo I'm wearing a Desigual shirt).
I love modern art and modern dance.  I especially love artists like Picasso.  This photo is from the gallery of Joan MirĂ³ in Mallorca. 
I love Spanish food, especially Manchego cheese and manzanilla olives. I could literally eat a jar of olives a day, and never tire of them! 
I love the calas of Spain.  I love how you have to really fight the hot heat and rough terrain to discover them.
I love the sunsets in Spain.  I could watch them everyday.
Basically, I love pretty much everything about Spain.  When I am there, I feel like I'm home.
I love my dog.  I also love the color red, and red lipstick (another influence from Spain!). 
I love driving.  Since I live in China, I don't drive a car, but instead ride my bike and scooter, and sometimes funny carts like this one.  I also love being silly and making kids laugh, which is what I was doing on this school trip to Beijing.
I love teaching PE because it's relevant for lifelong learning, and the most empowering thing students can learn how to do is to take care of their mind, body and spirit.  In my current school, I am privileged to teach kids who are so caring, intelligent and savvy.
Last but certainly not least, I love my best friend Michelle.  She is so thoughtful, funny and intuitive.  She is so honest and tells it like it is.  Sometimes the truth is hard to hear, but I love her insight, and I love that she is a loyal friend.  She has always been there for me in good times and bad, and even though I live in China, she has maintained contact with me since day one.  She's always interested in hearing about my travels, which I really appreciate.  She's also always helped me practice Spanish and helped me practice my faith.  Lastly, I am so inspired by her intelligence and her work ethic.  She's always progressing and growing, and I'm so proud of her.  I'm mostly really proud to call her my friend.

This post was for day one of a 30 day reflection exercise.  I really want to get back into writing my blog, since I didn't have my laptop with me over the summer, and it was next to impossible to update the blog from my iPad.  I hope to dedicate 30 minutes of writing time to my schedule everyday.  I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow!! Until then..

paz.amor.felicidad <3

Staff of Concordia International School Shanghai SY 2013-14

I'm so happy the marketing office published the photo this year.  Now where am I?

paz. amor. felicidad siempre <3