June 27, 2010 - 1:35 PM
Sitting in my favorite chair with my parents at our home in San Mateo, we're enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon watching the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox play the rubber match of their weekend series at AT&T Park. Nothing feels more like home than sitting in our living room watching Giants' games.
Yesterday morning my mother happened upon three tickets to the game, so I called up my buddy Dan, a born and raised member of the Red Sox Nation, and hopped on the train into the city. I don't mean to be nostalgic but I really need to provide some background info for all of you to understand the significance of watching baseball games has for Dan and myself.
Obviously, we both grew up watching Giants' game. In fact, we were at the ballpark with our fathers the last time the Red Sox came to San Francisco about five years ago. Pedro Martinez struck out Barry Bonds in the first inning, but as I recall the Giants emerged victorious at days end. Our baseball bond stems from something deeper though.
The summer after we graduated high school, before I could even called myself a Duck, Dan and I set out on a two-month, thirteen thousand mile road trip across America visiting Major League Baseball Parks. Our box score read something like twenty major league parks, a dozen minor league games including Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A, one college summer league game and even a high school game in Colorado. I'd love to give you a full recap of the summer extravaganza, but I wouldn't be able to do it justice. We saw a game ending walk in San Diego and future Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum make his debut in Milwaukee. We had a flat tire in North Carolina and a busted taillight in Cooperstown. In New Orleans, we watched a brass band play in the outfield and in New York we missed a Yankees game because we were stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. As you can see, the Baseball Road Trip was a true coming of age story for us teenagers on the open highways.
If anyone wants to know more, please I will take any questions. I'll save you a little time and answer the obvious one. My favorite stadium fittingly was Fenway Park in Boston, which just so you all know is pronounced "Fenway Paaaahk." Best atmosphere, rich tradition and tastiest hot dogs. ‘Nuf said.
Like I was saying baseball holds a special place in my heart and Saturday was a special day for San Francisco Giants Fans, too.
Before the game, the Giants retired the number of Monford Merill "Monte" Irvin, who became the first African American born player to play for the franchise after signing with the New York Giants on July 8, 1949 only two years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. Balloons flew as they revealed the orange and black #20 hanging in the rafters. Legends like Orlando Cepeda, Gayord Perry and Willie McCovey were on hand to congratulate him, and Willie Mays even told stories about his former teammate in New York.
What surprised me was that Monte had the poise to speak in front of the crowd and he was good! At 91 years young, he meekly shuffled to the podium. But then, all of a sudden this deep, booming voice with a hint of southern drawl echoed through the microphone, "Good afternoon. Thank you all so much. It's a pleasure to a be here, but then again at my age it's a pleasure to be anywhere..." He was awesome! He romance the crowd with stories of coming into the big leagues, and he told us his only regret in baseball was that he never had the privilege to play in San Francisco. He told us that he now feels like his career in baseball is complete before leaving the podium saying, "Once again, thank you to the Giants for this great honor. I still have one question though. What took you so long? Thank you and enjoy the game."
The only thing that would have made it more perfect would have been if the Giants could have pulled out a victory. We played a good game behind our young prospect, Madison Bumgarner, but the Red Sox just played a better one. Dan and I bantered back a forth during the game obviously. Then my mother leaned over to remind Dan that if he talked too much, she'd make him pay for the ticket. Nice move.
Alright that's enough baseball for now. Students arrive tomorrow and I still need to prep some materials. I'm excited, but I'm already exhausted thinking about how much work it's going to be. I think of it like I'm preparing for my post-collegiate years when there's no such thing as summer break.
June 22, 2010 - 12:52 PM
I've already discussed my summer teaching internship at Aim High in previous blogs, but as an added thought (and publicity measure) I've embedded our promotional video. If any parents from the California Bay Area are reading this, you seriously need to watch this video. You might have found the next awesome summer enrichment program for your middle school student.
Anyways, today we had our Professional Development Day, which called on the staff of all twelve Aim High campuses located in San Francisco, Oakland, Marin and the lower-Peninsula (where my Redwood City Site is located) to come spend the day together.
Long story short, each teacher spent half the day teaching and half the day learning. We attended workshops on topics like classroom management, lesson-planning 101 and the Aim High CORE values [Community, Opportunity, Respect and High Expectations]. Then we spent time brainstorming ideas with teachers from other sites who are teaching the same subject area. For example, I'm teaching 9th Grade Environmental Science so I spent the period talking about how to incorporate the recent oil spill into lesson plans and how to best prepare students for our overnight camping trip. And, of course, we played several fun icebreaker games throughout the day.
There was one thing that happened today that I really want to tell you about. When we talk about providing an enriching learning experience for our student, we refer to it as the Aim High ‘magic.' I've never been able to capture this concept fully, but I think I might have experienced that ‘magic' that makes the program truly unique, not to mention what brought me back for a second year.
My staff members and I walked into the gymnasium about twenty minutes late. Out of roughly 120 people, I probably recognized two faces upon glancing across the room. Alec Lee, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Aim High, was standing at center court while everyone else was sitting in circles on the ground around him. He looks at us and says, "Welcome. We're glad you made it. We've grouped ourselves together by birth month." I immediately remembered the activity from last year.
My birthday is in July, so I tossed my bag down and threw a ‘seven' up in the air with my two hands, ie - giving a high five with one hand and a peace sign with the other. Without any hesitation every member of the July group behind Alec simultaneously held their hands, each mimicking my ‘seven,' and made room for one more person in their circle. There were no words spoken, but rather a welcome enthusiasm that emanated from the smiles of everyone in the gym.
I have a feeling that this is going to be a good summer.
For now though, it's time for some sleep. My science team, made of myself and two other college students from Santa Clara University and Cornell University, need to plan out our five-week lesson plan tomorrow sometime after our staff training ends and Parent Orientation Night begins.
June 15, 2010 - 8:09 PM
I'm going to keep this short because I need to get outside to enjoy the sunshine, which is finally outside and, dare I say, looks as if it's going to stay for a while. Summer has finally come to Eugene and, of course, it peaks out when I have to leave.
So far, though, I have been able to play a round of disc golf, toss the Frisbee outside the Library [emphasis on the outside rather than inside of the Library], and we even moved our couches outside to create an outdoor living room. Clever, I know, but really we're just moving our furniture one step closer to the sidewalk where we eventually will slap a "FREE" sign on them and wait for some lucky student to swipe them up and give them a new home.
This summer, my plans are to move back home to the California Bay Area, San Mateo to be exact. I'll be living at home with my parents (yahoo for home cooked meals!) and commuting south to Redwood City to teach summer school. Those, of you that have been keeping track of the blog, are probably asking yourselves, ‘I wonder how he's commuting. Is he riding his bicycle still?'
Well, my friends, kudos to you for thinking about active transportation, and my answer to you is........YOU BET I AM!!
I'm actually really excited because I have the privilege to ride the train and bike to work every day. Now that I think about it, I'm really excited for so many reasons.
I'm excited to start teaching again. I'm excited to see my students and advisees from last year and see how they've matured (or not). I'm excited to put the skills I've learned this year in the ELP to use, and I'm excited to teach some my teammates lessons.
I'm excited that I won't be taking classes for a little while. I'm still going to be in a classroom, but I'm excited to not be a student for a few months. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to volunteer as a teacher's assistant for my family's friend's speech class at Stanford University, which I'm obviously excited about.
I'm excited to be home, to be with my family and to be with my old high school friends. And I'm excited because we're starting a bowling team! Don't laugh at us, you're just jealous.
Most of all, though, I'm excited to leave Eugene for two months. Don't read into that too quickly, let me explain. As I've found in the past, it's always hard to leave a place that means so much to you and hold such vivid memories, but it's a bitter sweet departure. You have to leave that place in order to return, and coming back to see all you friends and relive those memories is one of the best feelings in the world.
You have to leave in order to return, and I can't wait to come back!
June 14, 2010 - 1:46 PM
Okay, this is a little belated, but I was busy celebrating the end of the hardest term EVER!! Junior year is over. It's nothing but a memory, and really it's been a fantastic year at that. As my roommates and I pack up and prepare to leave for summer, our seldom-washed walls speak countless stories. But first I want to put a conclusion to the academic year.
I'm not sure how I want to tackle this because it's too difficult to capture the glory of this year in one go, but I think the most apt way to do so is recite the conclusion to the Climate Equity Team's final presentation for the Environmental Leadership Program. Here goes nothing:
After twenty weeks, my teammates and I have learned that being an environmental leader means:
o Being able to communicate with our partners, teachers and teammates.
o Having flexibility to plan out one lesson between eight minds.
o Finding a bicycle that can make sixteen mile round trips to teach.
o Having the patience, when drawing maps for two days straight in the basement of Columbia Hall, and
o Knowing that late-night pizza from Track Town can solve just about anything.
o Having adaptability inside the classroom, because you never know exactly what kids will do next.
o Strategically timing coffee breaks around meetings.
o Having the motivation to finish everything you need to get done; posters, presentation, websites, climate action plans and final reports.
o Having the humility when you can't fit everything into a single 40-minute class period, and
o The enthusiasm to make what you're talking about, whatever it may be, the most important thing in the world.
o Never forgetting to bring empowerment into your lesson, so that student know that they can make a difference in the largest global issues on their own local level,
o Because as we have learned, passion is an ethic in environmental education and that cannot be understated.
Despite all of our complaining and moaning through the past two terms, the Environmental Leadership Program was the most rewarding experience of our lives. I'm sad to see it end.
June 2, 2010 - 5:05 PM
I deeply regret not keeping you all updated on the progress of our Intramural Softball team. In the midst of the end of the term chaos (jeez, I sound like a broken record when I say that), the team managed pretty well. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and in our case there just wasn't any "go" left in Team Go Team GO.
We started out the playoffs with a first round ‘bye' because somehow we managed to be the #2 seed in our Coed D-2 bracket. Don't ask me how, because I really couldn't tell you. The second round brought even more of a surprise as the opposing team, Anonymous Funk, had to forfeit due to lack of players. We ended up playing a scrimmage match to stay in shape. I won't tell you the final score of the scrimmage, but let's just say that when the three umpires joined Team Funk we quickly discovered that we were at a distinct disadvantage. It was pretty much our coed team versus their eight-guy/one-girl team. And the umps we're really, really good. ‘Nuf said.
Regardless, that (sorta) victory got us through to the quarterfinals where we were greeted by the #11 seed, Team "What's up Pitches?" The game ball on our team went to Cam Norris, who, after not playing in a single game all season, came out and pitched a gem. He kept the team to six runs through six innings. The only catch was that the other team did the same, setting the stage for some late inning heroics by yours truly.
Now, as the team captain, I'm not supposed to brag or take any credit. This was by all means a team effort, but this is my blog after all. Bottom of the sixth inning, tie ballgame, two outs, man on first base and Tracy is at the plate. I'm standing in the on-deck circle thinking to myself, "Please don't get out. Please don't get out. I just want to hit. Please don't get out." Like she does best, Tracy takes ball four and skips down to first base. "YES!!"
I come up to the plate, worked the count full, and then sent that neon yellow softball screaming over the right fielder's head. If I could draw out the field, this might make more sense, but it's basically a large square field divided diagonally into two softball diamonds. Long story short, the right field homerun fence is about 400 feet away from home plate. Obviously, I haven't eaten enough Wheaties in my entire lifetime to hit the ball that far, but I was able sprint around for an inside the parker. Score: Good Guys 9, Other Guys 6.
The miraculous part was that the inning kept on going. Cam rattled off a single. Leslie walked. Kevin beat out a groundball. Then, little Sarah came up and ripped a liner into center field, which caught everyone by surprise. The game ended in an 11-6 victory. I came in to close it out in the seventh inning and we were officially in the final four.
Yesterday, we played our semi-final match against the #6 team, "Batter Than You." I'll spare you the details because the final score was something like 18-6. I just remember standing on the sidelines when Cam came up to me between innings and asked, "Am I doing anything wrong?" I solemnly replied, "No. They're just hitting the crap out of the ball. Nothing we can really do about it."
I came in the next inning relieve Cam of his pitching duties, but I didn't fare too much better. I walked their least intimidating player twice and watch ball after ball go flying of their bats. Morgan Flint, place kicker for the Oregon football team, hit a three-run blast off my to deep center field. That's when I really knew our season was coming to a close.
I think we were all still feeling the strain from a weekend in Seattle and getting ready for finals. Oh, well there's always next year. All I can say is that I only have one year left to win that coveted "Intramural Champion" t-shirt and you better believe that I'm not going down without a fight.