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Mabuhay Bienvenidos, Welcome

Year of Faith!
June 24, 2013

We went into this last school year with uncertainty and a lack of resources but we made it through. Last August, Spanish II students
eagerly entered the classroom to finish their foreign language requirement and Spanish I students came to learn a new language they were curious about. Some had heard that the Spanish classes were fun, some were just ready to kick back, and the students new to Faith Academy were wide-eyed and unsure of what was going to happen next. The week leading up to classes involved furniture moving and preparing the classroom. The first four weeks of school I spent a lot of time coordinating with the other foreign language teachers helping them settle into their classrooms and work spaces and manage their administrative tasks. I think I did not get seated at my desk and focus on my own lessons plans until September. Soon after that I found out I would be sharing the classroom and so I shifted my work area to the back office and this took some getting used to. Twelve students returned from the previous year to take Spanish level II. About seven other students tried to get into the class but could not fit it into their schedules. Spanish level I quickly filled to capacity of 24, which meant that some students would have to wait until next year for Spanish.

Spanish level 1 class, Faith Academy Campus

My focus was to make sure and set the tone and structure right off the bat so that we would not struggle with behavioral and organizational issues.

I implemented a seating chart but left room to be flexible and the students loved me for not breaking them up from their buddies or out of their comfort zones. I think level II could have been pushed a bit more over the course of the year to a higher level, but this was a challenge for me in that I had many different levels of learning in the classroom. Highlights of the year, a farewell to a student from Spanish I who left part way through the year to Ireland. All students shared how this student impacted their lives. There were tears and prayers. Level II had a returning student from furlough in Texas which everyone warmly welcomed. Mrs. Rivette was able to join us again, more frequently in the second Semester, and help with two days out of the week so I could do lesson planning and work on a graduate class. I also was without a sitter so I stayed home with Astrid those

days. Students watched cooking travel shows, enjoyed cooking at the end of the year, created blogs in Spanish, researched Spanish speaking countries, presented with PowerPoint and Prezis, skits, role-plays, sang a song, made weather maps and broadcasted the weather in Spanish. This year unfortunately we were not able to make it to the historical city Intramuros, in Manila, but students were able to partake in an immersion experience on campus. Additional Spanish classes were taught by a returning Spanish teacher from Korea, we had a small group of five students in level 1, and three students in level 3 (I.G.), and one student in level 4 (A.P.). Graduation this year was highlighted with quite a few mentions of Spanish achievement and recognition including two highlevel students going onto universities in the U.S., Wheaton and University of North Carolina.

Students participating in an Activity

Spanish Level II Class

to try out living in a more rural setting outside of the city and closer to the school. Soon after our move Kyle was offered a position with an American-Filipino owned company. We were still without a car and so when we heard a car was waiting for our use, we were relieved and happy. November I decided to start a three-part course for the remainder of my graduate work for a Masters in Education. The first class ran all November. This came with challenges but thankfully at that time our other needs were met so I felt everyone could keep standing. December it was time to find a house and settle and Kyle and I still did not have funds to do this and we felt he could not handle the commute from where we were so after several discussions we decided to go back to where we originally lived hoping that the kids would not feel yet another move but rather just a return to their old home. For the move I found the extra help needed when three Filipino women said they were eager to work for extra Christmas money for their grandchildren and a new baby on the way. So I had helping hands to pack, clean-up, watch the kids, and we were cooked some warm meals. This was the only way I was able to celebrate Christmas and have some rest during the vacation.

With all the busyness its a wonder how the rest of our lives kept going. At the end of July last year we were at less than 50% of our donations and unsure if we could commit to the school year. After a few meetings with the principal and some time in prayer we decided to commit to levels I & II and go forward in Faith for Gods provision. Looking back on the year Kyle and I can both say it was a Year of Faith because we felt we did not have what we needed in order to accomplish what we had before us and we had to go forward trusting God to provide. Soon after classes began we were offered a house near school for about four months. This gave us some time with reduced rent costs and less travel time and expense. It was a transition for the kids but everyone seemed ready

Spanish classroom, December 2012

Semester two started busy carrying us through end May without much down time. Kyle was not signed-on for a long term contract with the company so from April he has not been working. At that time we were still

All School Prayer, Last Day of School

without a sitter for Astrid so Kyle was able to help care for her April-June. He also helped in the classroom and with the immersion experience for the.panish level II class that ran about two and half weeks. The year ended with a sprint, we were able to finish all the grammar and material I was hoping (thanks for the prayers!) and take a final exam. Students did well and I was pleased with our review time, also that the students who needed to come in beforehand made the time, and Mrs. Rivette was also able to work with students. Level II students wrote essays on Environmental Problems, and all did a good job! I was pleased with the pre-writing practice and decisions made leading up. It was a lot to put together in short time. We also had a good-bye to Mrs. Rivette; she has finished her two years serving abroad in missions and will return to her home in Georgia. Level II students organized a very nicely done poster with goodbye letters and pictures and we took a group photo. Level I had a class party and each said their thank-yous and goodbyes, mentioning she was like a mother to them.

I managed to get popcorn, pizza, and once a week hot chocolate as a reward to students throughout the year. This was important to me because I know some have long days and dont all have sufficient meals throughout the week. So an added snack helps, or something warm is greatly appreciated. It also keeps them talking in Spanish especially in the afternoon period. This was the year of being technologically challenged for me. My iPhone broke, my plan to incorporate the iPad into my daily lesson implementation fell through (with no iPad), and my laptop almost died a few times, dropped several times by Astrid including that my screen was damaged when she tried to be a good girl and help mommy with her work by cleaning the laptop screen with nail polish remover. Looking back with all these things considered I think God was showing me how to get things done shorthanded. Some days I wondered why I was not back in the U.S. trying to do all this. Mid Spring I think a light bulb switched on that schooling is public in all of the U.S. and there is such a thing as teacher salaries. This year was very different from last year. I most certainly had culture shock. I made agreements with myself that no matter how savvy I was in other countries I had been before, culture shock is culture shock and it could not be avoided. I thought I knew Philippines because I knew Filipinos outside the country, but this proved quite wrong.

Students on last day of school, May 2013

High School Buidling, May 2013

With all that said, this year also brought lovely things. I had time to connect with the students and also work with struggling students enough for showed improvement in attitude, personal confidence, and academically. We attended a Bible study group, all Filipinos from Manila, some have lived in California. I have had one Filipino friend since November 2011 who I get to celebrate with now as she is expecting a long hoped for girl in July. Many months were spent talking about having a girl, and praying for her to have a girl (and really praying so she would not be let down with some angst in there). She also was open to go to church with me

and pray and discuss God a bit more. We have continued to make closer relationships with Filipinos and expatriates outside of the Faith Academy circle. Other blessings included a visit from Kyles parents in January and a trip to Subic Bay, an aquatic park for Tobys birthday, an invite to a home on the coast near Subic (north of Manila), and a trip to Baguio (up in the hills). Also, more time with Kyle near since April and surprise tickets home to enjoy the Summer in Iowa! Other blessings and surprises that really only God could conjure up and were a result of answered prayers from all. Overall a growing appreciation of our churches and communities back home praying for us. A deeper understanding of the value of people back home caring and dedicated beyond the financial support. The longer we are out of our country the more we realize we need our roots and the support of our people. That has only been made possible by continued contact and relationship with all of you! I always grow stronger in devotion to my country after living in the chaos and broken systems of lesser developed countries. God helps me appreciate what we have back in the U.S. After our time in Vietnam and now Philippines, I feel I walk the grounds our guys walked once before. Its like an empty history but I still can hear their voices and jokes and maybe even just a bit how they felt with the humid air, bright colors, strange new tastes, and unknown paths ahead.

Ben Cab Art Museum, Baguio City, March 2013

With warm regards and blessings to all, Kyle, Sunshine, Tobias, Astrid Hopkins June 2013 Philippines

Our Contact: Kyle, Sunshine, Tobias, Astrid Hopkins Email: Facebook: Hopkins Teach Beyond Blog: Skype: sunshine.hopkins kyle.hopkins Phone: 360-499-2925 Permanent Address: PO Box 434 Eastsound, WA 98245 USA WA, 98245 USA

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