Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or treat!

Two posts a day... I must have nothing else to do. Actually I wanted to share my trick or treating experience with you. I went with Lauren, a student from the 11th grade. She picked me up at the hoel and we went to West Jefferson.

Lauren in her beautiful dress and her pretty car

The streets were full of children dressed in costumes. All of them were escorted by their parents. We went to a couple of shops and then to an event called trunk or treat. This means that there were lots of cars parked  in a big parking lot next to a church in the town. The cars had their trunks decorated and full of candy and people in costumes distributed candy.

We met one of the English teachers - Rebecca. She was with her children. Isn't that cute?
A scary couple giving treats to children. Look at the shoes the guy is wearing :P

It was interesting to see how children were enjoying the whole event. I wish the weather had been better though. It was pretty cold and cloudy and it even sprinkled a bit. Some of the kids must have been half frozen in their costumes.

Here are two examples of the costumes I saw at school today. They had a costume competition but there weren't as many people in costumes as they had expected.

Here's one of Ethel's teacher cadets dressed as Mrs Doubtfire :)
And here's Jenny dressed as a nun. She teaches Social Studies.

In Estonia it's already November. Here we have a couple of hours of October still left. Take care :)

Happy Halloween!

I'm at school and the 9th graders are watching a movie - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I think I haven't seen this movie version of Washington Irving's short story.

Today I observed a French class taught by Sandra Lemly  and it really made me think about how hard it actually must be for American students to learn a foreign language. They haven't got many chances to practice it. Everything here is in English and even if they travel to Europe, most people can speak English there.

Anyway, I have been collecting photos of fall and Halloween decorations and since they celebrate Halloween here today I thought I should post some of the pictures I have taken.

 You can see pumpkins here a lot. This photo was taken at Food Lion (it's a grocery store)
 Halloween display at a small bookstore in Boone Mall
 A decorated door at Westwood Elementary
 Another photo taken at Westwood Elementary. By the way, here in North Carolina people often ask How ya'll doin? :)
 A shelf of scary books in Boone Mall
 Halloween decoration is saw at Westwood Elementary
 A witch you can meet at Boone Mall
 The pumpkin cake I won at Fall Festival :)

OK, now it gets scary. If you want to get some sleep tonight, don't look at the photos below.
 A creature we saw in an Irish pub in Charlotte. They had lots of scary decorations there.
 Another creature creeping on the ceiling
 Are you sure you can sleep tonight?
 A photo I took in Boone Mini Mall
 I think there's somebody hissing behind your door... Can you hear it?
Happy Halloween :)
I wanted to write about a creepy sound we heard on Saturday when we got back from Black Jack's. It was completely dark, we got out of the car and suddenly we could hear something similar to a wolf howl in the dark woods. Gerry told me yesterday that this was probably a coyote but it was still pretty scary.

I'm going trick-or-treating tonight :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011


It's Sunday night and I'm back in Hampton Inn. Surprisingly, I got my old room back :) I was tired yesterday and didn't feel like writing so now I'll have to write about the whole weekend. Yesterday was a really cold day. I got up at around 8 am and had breakfast with Jeannie. She showed me photos of her family and some of the places she has been to.

At 11 am we drove to the building site where Gerry was working. As I already mentioned, they're involved in a program called Habitat for Humanity and are building an eco-house for a family in Ashe County. We went to the building site and helped to serve lunch for the men working on the house. The weather was just horrible - freezing cold and it started snowing when we got there. I really admire the guys I saw working there - they are all volunteers and don't get paid for their work.

Volunteers building a house

Lunch in snow

After serving the lunch we went back to Jeannie and Gerry's house. I skyped home and talked to my guys for almost an hour. They seem to manage there pretty well. Villem played the guitar and Karel had learned a new word - Ameerika :)

In the afternoon we went to West Jefferson with Jeannie. We had a cup of coffee in a small and cozy coffee shop. Then Jeannie showed me the Ashe County Cheese plant and we visited their store.

After that we went to see the art gallery where Jeannie's friend Lenore DePree works. She's just an amazing artist and her paintings were just wonderful. She had just finised a mosaic painting of trees - fascinating! She has lived in China and Saudi Arabia and you can see that her paintings are influenced by that. She was really sweet and gave me notecards with her paintings on them as a gift.
Me and Lenore DePree 

Then we visited a gift shop and went to Black Jack's Pub and Grill to have dinner with Gerry and two of their friends. I really liked it there. They were broadcasting a football game taking place at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone (the one where we went to a week ago). We were really happy to see that ASU team won.
At Black Jack's with Gerry and Jeannie
We got back to their house at around 7 pm and I showed them my blog and talked about my trip to New York.

Today I woke up at 9. Gerry and Jeannie had prepared a Sunday breakfast - bacon and different sorts of pancakes - with chocolate chips, blueberries and strawberries. They were delicious. I should try adding chocolate chips to the pancakes I usually make.

Jeannie and Gerry making pancakes

Then we drove to Boone and went to the Catholic church they go to. This was again an interesting experience as the church was very different from the ones we have in Estonia. I liked the music they played there. I could even sing the first song they sang - When the saints go marching in....
After the mass we drove to Blue Ridge Parkway and made a lot of stops and took dozens of photos of the amazing view. It was just breathtaking - probably one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life. By the way, the weather today was much better than yesterday - sunny and warmer.

We also went to Cascade Falls. In order to see them we had to walk a bit. So unexpectedly a visit to church had turned into a hike. Again, I was just amazed by the scenery.

Cascade Falls

Me by the waterfall
Gerry taking a dive into the waterfall

Before getting back to their house we visited a gift shop and they gave me a pair of beautiful earrings I like very much.

In the afternoon Gerry and I made another short hike and he showed me the solar panels and the windmill that produce electricity for their household. He also showed me the stream that flows close to their house. They have lots of beavers there and lots of trees the beavers have cut down.

Jeannie and Gerry's house and solar panels that provide their household with electricity

Then we had dinner. Jeannie had prepared some potato salad, beans and hamburgers and a delicious blueberry pie.
I got back to the hotel at around 8 o'clock. It was a bit sad to say goodbye as I was really enjoying my stay there. But I think we'll keep in touch.
I really liked my host family and the weekend I spent with them.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekend with my host family

A photo I took yesterday in front of the hotel. You can see a field of Christmas trees up on the mountain. Growing Christmas trees is a big business here. Did you know that it takes 15 years to grow a proper Christmas tree?

It's 10 pm in the evening and I'm writing another blog entry. I'm at my host family's house now. I'm gonna spend the weekend with Jeannie and Gerry. They live close to Ashe High in an eco-home in the forest. The house is special, as they use alternative energy here. They have solar panels, their own windmill and they use sun radiation, wind, and water power to create electricity, heat the house and pump water. Tomorrow we're gonna see another eco-house they help to build as they are involved in an international program called Habitat fo Humanity. For more information visit

Yesterday I went to Fall Festival with Carmen (she's a Maths teacher) and her son Carter. The festival took place in Westwood Elementary and this was definitely a fun event. The place was crowded with children and their parents. They sold tickets for different activities and games.

Dunking Booth - the most popular among small boys. They had a chance to make their teachers and even the school principal fall into the water tank. Have seen this in movies, didn't think I would see it in real life.
We also played Bingo (with beans) and took part in Cake Walk. It's a game where you have to walk on tiles decorated with numbers. They play music and you just walk. And when the music stops, you'll be standing on a number. They're gonna draw a number and if it's yours, you can pick a cake from a row of different cakes they have there. And guess what... I won a cake yesterday :) My lucky number was 35.

That's my pumpkin cake. I took it to school today and shared with other teachers. It was awfully sweet.

Today it was soooo difficult to get up. It was cloudy and raining so I felt really sleepy the whole day. On the second periond there was an assembly in the auditorium for 9th and 10th graders. We saw a play called Shakespeare on Trial and it was just hilarious. There were only two actors but they were so talented and managed to make the audience roar with laughter.
They also used people from the audience. Here's their interpretation of Romeo and Juliet. The guy on the left is an actor playing Shakespeare. The guy on the right is another actor portraying Juliet. The man in the middle is Mr. Rousseau - an English teacher and soccer coach.
Modern Juliet
The third period was with the teacher cadets whom I hadn't seen at school yet. They were reading children's books. And we also had red velvet cake that Travis had made. I also liked his story about a book that ate people.

And the fourth period was with the 11th graders I was worried about. It turned out that actually they were really nice.

I showed them a video and asked them to make assumptions about Estonia and Estonians. They asked lots of interesting questions and wanted me to teach them Estonian dances.
Here's Kaerajaan :P

One of the girls - Lauren - is gonna take me trick-or-treating on Monday :)

After school I met my host family. I had dinner with them - chili and corn bread and brownies with ice cream for dessert. We talked about Estonia and I gave them some souvenirs I had brought with me.

Oh, it's midnight already. Good night!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Hi from Ashe High! We're having a break at the moment and since I was too tired yesterday to write an entry to the blog, I thought I could try to do it now. Actually, the class starts in 7 minutes. I've already uploaded some pictures I would like to share with you.
 Here's how they grade their students here. As you can see, you have to get at least 70 to pass.
And I also wanted to write about Ethel's schedule. She only has 4 periods a day. One period is 90 minutes as you can see. What's even better, her first period is planning. That means no students, she just has the time (an hour and a half) to plan her lessons. Amazing! I wish we had something like that in Estonia. Her second period is with 9th graders, the second is with teacher cadets and the fourth with 11th graders.
 That's Ethel teaching :)

On Wednesdays and Thursdays the teacher cadets go to elementary schools in the area. So yesterday we went to see them in Westwood Elementary. That's a really nice school - new and modern.
 School buses at Westwood Elementary.
 A classroom at Westwood Elementary.
 There's a family here that keep buffalo as pets. That's interesting, isn't it? But Ethel told me that's not common at all.
 Me and the teachers here having lunch at the teachers' lounge. Yesterday we went to Subway and had a sandwich for lunch. Today we went to the school cafe and had chicken, broccoli and mashed potatoes and cherry cobbler.

Ethel usually finishes work at 4 pm. She took me to Sarah's classroom (she's a Science teacher here) as I was gonna have dinner at her place. Sarah's really really nice. We drove to her house (about 15 minutes from here) and I met her daughters Amanda and Mary Austin and her husband. Sarah cooked us dinner - meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and cabbage. While we were having dessert - cherry pie and ice cream, Sarah's parents joined us. They were really impressed by the fact that I've learned five foreign languages. We also talked a lot about Estonia and its history.
Sarah's family. I enjoyed the dinner a lot because they were so friendly and interested in my country. I got back to the hotel at around 9 I think because Sarah took me to Walmart.

This morning I got up at 6, which wasn't an easy thing to do at all. During the planning period I got everything ready for the presentation on Estonia I was going to make. We went to the storage room and took some posterboards for the group work I had planned for the 9th graders. As you can see, the teachers have everything they need to make their classes interesting and keep their students motivated.
Then the 9th graders came and I made the presentation. I could use the Smartboard Ether has got in her classroom and I also showed the video I created last week.

Ethel told me I did really well and the students were very interested in Estonia. They asked so many questions. About the weather, the school, the cars we drive, about whether we were religious and so on. They liked Estonian candy I gave them and they behaved really well.
Students working on the poster they had to make.
Another group. There are 22 students in this class.
Here's the main entrance of the school house.
I took the photo today when we went to another elementary school to see what the teacher cadets were doing there.
The hill by the elementary school - Mountainview Elementary - we visited today. It's in a really rural area.

Right now I'm in the class with 11th graders. They started reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Ethel read them the first chapter. They worked on the vocabulary and took a quiz on the chapter. That's not an easy group and I'm not surprised as it's pretty late already and everybody looks tired.I went and made some copies for Ethel. She has to keep them here for 10 more minutes. Some of them are still busy with the worksheet, others just walk around and look bored. We agreed that I'd tell them about Estonia tomorrow. That's a bit scary but I'll manage... I think.

OK, that's it for today.