A Year in the Kampung

As my time in Malaysia comes to a close, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the year as a whole. It is hard to believe that my ten-month grant is nearly over. I still remember my initial journey from the United States like it happened yesterday. I guess this is what happens…

(Re)Discovering Our Confidence in the Jungle

I never really know what to expect when it comes to English Camps. There are so many factors to account for. My head is filled with questions: How will the students act outside of the classroom?  Is the venue I selected appropriate for my camp?  Are all of the facilities well maintained and safe to…

Dear Journal (and Mr. Max)…

It’s 11 pm on a Thursday night and I’m asleep. My bedside table begins vibrating. The unmistakable sound of an incoming call. I try to ignore it but I cannot. I reach for my phone, my face still buried in the pillow. “Hello,” I manage to mumble. “Hello!” “Hello? Who is this?” It’s one of my…

Being Dramatic

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda I cannot teach creativity. I cannot teach my English language learners how…

Mr. Max, Why You Gotta Be So Rude?

I can never walk unnoticed around the grounds of SMK Badak. Whenever I make my way over to the canteen or depart for one of my classes, my movement tracked by students: “Hello!” or “Good morning, Mr. Max!” or “Oh! Mr. Max! Good morning, sir!” or sometimes just loud screaming noises. Needless to say, my classes know…

Finally Getting to Know My Students. Thanks, WhatsApp.

Teaching takes patience. Being patient takes a lot of practice. When I was in University, my professor told me that, “It takes a special kind of person to teach.” I think she could have easily also said, “It takes a special kind of person to be willing to be so patient all the time.” To become…

Using Photographs to Modify Perspective

It’s hot in Malaysia. Some days the afternoon heat and humidity is so crippling that all my students want to do is sleep. Usually, I want to curl up into a ball and sleep too, preferably directly underneath the classrooms single functioning fan. And yet I need to teach. How can I possibly teach in…

A Little Taste of a Happy(er) Life

I woke up one morning late last week and, for the first time in over one hundred days, my first thought was, “What are you doing here?” I laid there blankly staring up at the ceiling fans whirling above my head, attempting to suppress the stagnant morning humidity, and began to justify my being in…

Finding a Place for Poetry in the Language Learning Classroom

“Poetry’s work is not simply the recording of inner or outer perception; it makes by words and music new possibilities of perceiving.” – Jane Hirshfield, Academy of American Poets Chancellor I know I am, as we say in America, “chomping at the bit,” when it comes to acknowledging National Poetry Month. March has yet to…