Spring is struggling to make itself known in Memphis, but I am full-on and in high gear, as we say in the South. I am a warm weather person, so when the air gets chilly, I become as slow and sluggish as December molasses. I accomplish little and can't seem to even line up thoughts into any order that makes sense. Warmth dispels all of that. Now that the first dogwoods have bloomed, I'm rocking!
Yesterday, I had an appointment with the communicable disease doctor and got my shots for my trip to India this summer. I was pleasantly pleased that I only had to get a booster to the Typhoid vaccination I received before my trip to Africa a few years ago. She suggested that I get the 3-shot series of Hepatitis B, but I assured her that I have no plans to dabble in bodily fluids, so she gave in and said I didn't need it. I will have to take malaria prophylaxis, and wear 100% DEET mosquito repellant, to ward off any strange mosquito-born viruses, but that is to be expected. She also gave me an antibiotic prescription, in the event that I contract a nasty intestinal bug. I feel armed and ready!
I have been thinking a lot about my guiding question, the research question I plan to use as my focus on the trip. Being a Catholic theology teacher, I wonder if I should focus my research on spirituality and how different faith traditions pray, celebrate their faith in their personal and family settings outside of public worship. I would explore the ways people pray and think about their spirituality. I do not really want to delve into the beliefs and practices of particular religions as I know the basics and I am more interested in peoples' personal practices and rituals. It would be interesting to compare and contrast those rituals with those of the Catholic faith to discover their similarities as a means of ecumenical exchange. I'm also interested to learn about how faith and spirituality is shared or experienced in the schools and classrooms. Are students allowed to pray publicly at school? Do teachers lead prayer or meditative practices in the classroom?
This topic, along with my idea to study how personal/ancestoral stories are shared and passed on from generation to generation, keep recurring in my mind as my top two choices on which to focus. I have a very long list of possibilities, but these two keep rising to the top.
Over the next month or two, as I also try to finish up the school year and prepare my students for exams, we will be making small gifts and cards for me to take and share with the students in my host school. My students will make friendship bracelets in a variety of colors for me to hand out easily. I hope to take about 150 as they are small, easy to carry around in a plastic bag and don't take up much space in my suitcase. My students will also make short brochures of introduction on which they can put pictures of themselves and friends or family, a written introduction and some fun facts about Memphis. These I will give to the students in my host teacher's class in hopes that my students can connect with his or her students and build a pen pal type connection over the Internet.
Sometime before the end of school, I also need to finish the other pages of this web site to complete the requirements of the fellowship and to share my new knowledge and resources about global competency with other teachers.
So much to do and plan! I am excited by the prospects and opportunities. Spring, roll on in here so I can better enjoy the ride!!!!