15 April 2011

The World is Pretty Cool Sometimes

For the information of those who may be in Turkey...this blog was apparently deemed unsuitable for comsumption by people within Turkish borders. Apparently I talk too much about life in a tiny town half the world away for thekr liking. Or swear too much. Or something.

First censorship ever! Great success!

"Tia, do you know the national anthem of thhe United States? Here's Chile's..."

My sixth graders launch into a rendition of the national anthem at once, complete with drumroll effects on the desks and standing on chairs. Every one of them knows the words by heart and sings with pride, even the ones who have learning disabilites and the ones with bad attitudes.

It appears to be a clever diversion to distract me from the lesson about healthy and unhealthy foods. It partly is. But I am amazed at how united they are, how proud.

They ask me to to sing my own national anthem (and by "ask" I mean "demand repeatedly").

I start it too high. Start again.

Oh, say can you see?
By the dawn's early light

For once, their attention is intensely focused on me alone. No cell pones, no pencils being sharpened to an unholy degree, no standing up and running around the classroom.

What so proudly we hailed
At the twilight's last gleaming

Matías' eyes are glowing. "Oh yeah!! I've heard this before!"

Whose broad stripes and bright stars
Through the perilous fight

Even Vahitea (I had to gently throw a marker at to get her attention ten minutes ago) has put away her hand mirror and is staring.

O'er the ramparts we watched
Were so galantly streaming
And the rockets red glare

Benjamin is giggling at my voice's strain to reach the note and gesticulating wildly like a conductor.

The bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there

Nearly lost it right here. Struggling to swallow a slight partiotic bubble in my throat so I can sing.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave?
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Cheers from the students. A brief attempt to explain why we have the song, and why our flag is really important to us.

I've spent a lot of time effacing my American-ness this trip, and in my general life. I often try to be as culturally and liguistically neutral as possible, and more than thrice since leaving the States I've been told that I don't look or act like an American. I normally take it as a compliment. But something about singing our national anthem 6,000 miles away from my homeland pulled forth a sense of American identity that I have not felt in a long time.

I could picture the flag waving in the breeze.

At the same time, the rendition of the Chilean anthem that my students gave was stirring. I realized that my country is pretty damn cool, and so is theirs. The impromptu appearance of patriotism on both sides makes me realize how cool the world is, and how wonderful it is that we all can come from different backgrounds and still end up in the same 10x20 ft classroom talking about foods.

The world is pretty cool sometimes.