Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm listening to John Denver tonight on iTunes ('Sunshine on my Shoulders') and writing a short post, bringing you up to speed on recent school events.


Last Saturday, CISP held a charity fundraiser: parents and kids donated books and clothes and knick-knacks, volunteered to run games, sold food, and ran an auction to raise money for an orphanage in Belarus and the European version of Ronald MacDonald house.

Originally, I'd signed up to help sell the donated clothes, but it turned out that the booth did not really need me to sit behind it. So I broke out my camera and started taking pictures of some of the crazy goodness there. If you've been on my Facebook page, you may have seen some of these already; this time, though I provide commentary!

The event (which we called 'March Madness') was a success, we were told: We raised over 75,000 Kc (about $3000 USD, which is a significant sum over here). I have to wonder, though, whether we bought half the stuff ourselves.

Here, some of the middle-schoolers get into the clothes-shopping action:

And our 10th grade science teacher gets ready to enter an ugly-sweater contest with something she found in the donated clothes:

If we weren't buying stuff, we were fooling around with it. My 10th grade students Aris, Ana and Amy latched on to the typewriter, trying to figure out how it worked. They asked me to give them a hand, and I had to confess that even I was too young to really know how a typewriter worked.

Besides the bazaar with its ugly sweaters and ancient typewriters, we also had an auction. The local youth pastor Jimmy got in on the auction action. Turned out, he was quite a good auctioneer: he wheedled his roommate (our Bible teacher) into bidding on prints for their man-pad, and he coaxed the menfolk into a competition of who-loves-his-wife-enough-to-buy-a-restaurant-coupon contest. Most of the restaurant coupons went for more than 500 Czech crowns, and some were nearly 1000 crowns - very good prices, in general.

Perhaps the most interesting of all our fundraisers involved a goldfish: We lined up glass jars on a table (with the pictures of 10th grade students, the PE teacher, and the youth pastor) and asked people to sponsor one of these people to swallow the goldfish. All the money put into the jars went directly to charity.

At one point, I walked over to this row of jars and jingled the 40 Kc or so in my hands, wondering which jar I should donate to. Personally, I wanted to see a student swallow the goldfish (does that make me a bad teacher?), but still I hesitated. At least, I hesitated until my 10th grade student Helena came running up and demanded that I donate to her jar - in other words, that I put her 40 crowns closer to swallowing a goldfish.

At this point, those of you who keep up with me on Facebook know what happened next.

Jimmy (the youth pastor) got the most money in his jar.

But he pulled 1000 crown bill out of his pocket -

- dangled it in the air a moment, in front of the whole crowd gathered for the auction -

- hesitated, -

- and dropped it in Helena's jar!

Up she came, and down went the goldfish - the whole thing.

Impressive, really. I'm told her brothers were jealous.

Fun as the event was, it had an even more important purpose: Working together (and donating a Saturday) taught the kids the value of showing generosity towards people who are in need. Perhaps for a missionary kid, whose family is very often on the receiving end of charity, this kind of lesson is particularly valuable. An event like March Madness provides a good 'training ground' for students enthusiastically practice charity and giving, donating a Saturday (or favourite clothes, or the heeby-jeebies associated with swallowing a fish) to mature as generous, Christ-like individuals.


My life has been inexplicably busy recently, all the more so as I've started splitting week nights between suppers with my roommate, Bible study with fellow teachers, and tea (or cake) with my language partner. And so, for this post only, the 'Notes on Czech' is cancelled.

Perhaps in the next update, I will sing the praises of the Czech lamp-posts (one of my newest cultural fascinations).


  1. I could have probably been of help about the "ancient typewriter." However, the one I have is even older. Can you believe that I went through four years of college typing all my papers on a manual typewriter? That was work! And if I made a mistake (which of course I did) it wasn't very easy to correct it.
    Thanks for writing these interesting updates.

  2. Is it bad I think that ugly sweater is cute, in its own way? Oh...well, never mind! :)