Tuesday, May 15, 2018

We All Eat Together

We All Eat Together

Well I am winding down on my sabbatical. Technically it’s done.  I mean the Spring 2018 semester is over and I’m scheduled to go back in the fall semester, which for us really means August. But I went back for a few things already and have started thinking about my classes even though they are a few months away.  

But I have not gotten back into a rhythm. All my travels and inconsistent schedule have left me tired. I mean I am still finishing up some work but I’m not nearly as busy as I usually am and it’s as though the end of the year has crashed on me as it usually does, finishing up some work, managing the boards I’m on, trying to just adjust with the weather that can’t seem to make up its mind all the while trying to manage my asthma and allergies. 

The one routine we had gotten into in my house is the morning is that we’d all eat together. I’d get up, write, workout and then we’d all eat together. Me, the fish and the dogs; which was a natural lead right into mediation.  Sometimes I’d take a yoga class and when I got back we’d all eat together. But that hasn’t happened as of yet. It’s just chaos. 

The dogs seem to be off and getting up at 5:30am – yes 5:30 – sometimes even earlier. Breaking my last hour or so of sleep, they demand to be fed, whining until I can’t take it anymore. Then I quickly take them out exhausted. No routine, no workout, and then sometime a few hours later my fish eat; and then I realize I need to eat.  We all seem to be off. 

It got me to thinking about this – how do I maintain this seemingly important routine that feeds not only my soul buy my household when I go back to work? So I leave myself thinking about this.  #wealleattogether

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Back from Puebla

 Back from Puebla

I had another wonderful experience on my sabbatical. This time it was in Puebla, Mexico!

First off the city is beautiful and quaint.  It is full of culture, art, architecture, and fantastic food. 
 The food is full of flavors that range from sweet to spicy. I really loved the street food and most nights enjoyed a taco.  

Puebla is full of churches.  Their very violent history, full of war and oppression was captured in much of the city in many ways, but some of these churches are still standing despite war. My favorite was a large cathedral full of baroque style architecture and art. When you enter inside a huge sense of calm and peace come over you.  It is full of religious statues and figures that are so beautifully created. No matter how many times you look at the building – each time you will discover something new.  

On my very fist day I was there in time to enjoy a performance in the park celebrating the anniversary of Puebla. It was full of humor and information. I also attended a dance performance performed by the dance network supported by Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla (IMACP). The stage was simple and the dances included a mixture of classic dance to urban style movement.  It was beautiful to experience.  And I realized that dance surpasses any language barrier.  

I was also able to experience the Friday Kahlo exhibit which was just amazing!

One highlight of the trip was working with the people of Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla (IMACP) and their artists ranging from adults to students as young as age 6. They are responsible for bringing me there and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have worked with their consituents.  Alex and Mau, my contacts there, planned each detail to support me and I felt so well taken care of and so welcome.  

With the adults, I gave a talk with them about my professional journey and teaching artists in New York City.  We noticed very quickly that some of the challenges and struggles of cultural organizations and artists are very similar in both of our countries but everywhere art perseveres. 

By far the greatest part of my trip and the most rewarding was working with the children. I was more comfortable practicing my Spanish and was able to teach much of the class in Spanish with the help of the children and colleagues. It gave me confidence to try with the adults as well. They were patient and forgiving and many used my being there to practice their English. In fact there were many times when someone would ask me something in English and I would respond in Spanish. 

The youngest group participated in creating performances based on a story I told them “Como el escarabjo tiene sus colores”.  They used mime, movement, music, dance, improvisation, tableau, role play and their imaginations to re-tell this story and even add to it. 

The older youth group full of teenagers devised a piece of theatre after only working with them for 3 days! They based their performances on interviews they had done and used tableau, role playing, greek choral speak, music, movement, and improvisation to create these fantastic performances. I was so impressed with the commitment and dedication they had this week.  And we were able to have a final performance on my last day.  

I am so proud of them! They surprised me at the end with their Mexican hospitality and showered me with gifts and sweets and thank you’s! It was very moving.  

I had a moment during my last class when I thought about this: I had such an intimate journey with these students this week that culminated in something so memorable after so much work this week–

Will they remember this experience? 

As I often say to my grad students – Life is made up of moments and as artists we are fortunate to be able to impact a moment, if we are lucky more than one moment, that will hopefully have a lifelong affect.   Their goodbyes and thank you’s were very moving and a great surprise.  

Again, I have to thank Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla (IMACP) for making this experience, I know I will always remember and particularly from the bottom of my heart Mau and Alex for their attention to detail in the planning and their support.

Monday, April 16, 2018


Next… 4/15/2018

My return from Korea was a long one.  Leave it to me to get seated in the MIDDLE of a high school boys soccer team coming to NY! They didn’t sleep at all and thought I was quite funny. Needless to say I was exhausted and the jet lag was bad for two weeks. 

And in that time New York was still chilly; with a few days of spring here and there, flowers confused and blooming and the dogs slowly getting their “winter’s over” face on. But I guess they knew more than I because it got cold again. 

In that time I had the Face-to-Face Conference.  And this year The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable was celebrating it’s 25thAnniversary.  It was special to give the opening remarks as a Co-Chair of the Roundtable and to be part of something that has had such an impact on arts education!  

And while we didn’t did not have a huge celebration, it is the 10thAnniversary of The Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at the City College of New York and it was nice to take a picture with my partner at work in the time capsule! 


And today I landed in Puebla, Mexico and it was so nice to enjoy the perfect weather here.  With just enough time today to walk around, see a performance in the park, walk by the Cathedral of Puebla and have dinner, I am ready to rest up for the week ahead working with Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla (IMACP) this week! 

#sabbaticallife has been good this week! 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Day of the Show!

The Day of the Show!

It was the day of the show! These graduate students I worked with were amazing. In less than 10 days they learned basic drama techniques to help devise a piece of theatre that was meaningful to them. The topic was about the social phenomenon of English Education in Korea. These are pre-service and in-service English Educators.

They took short interviews they conducted with their students, colleagues, and parents and we talked about them and used them to devise this fantastic piece of theatre. After the performance, audience members and performers engaged in dialogue about the topic. The students who performed lead these discussions in small groups and then we came back as a large group and debriefed.  I was so proud of them.

After they had a party for me and we all celebrated the hard work we did. I then traveled outside of Seoul with my friends to have a celebratory dinner and drinks!

I will remember this time in Seoul as one in which I saw a different perspective on the value of education.  It is such a powerful tool to spark dialogue, engagement and advocacy. 

I will remember too the kindness of everyone I met to make this such a rewarding experience for me. 

 Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
-Nelson Mandela

#fulbrightspecialist #fulbright #exchangeourworld #ccnyprepares #ccnysoe #artsed #sabbaticallife @ccnyedtheatre

This site/blog is not an official U.S. Department of State site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Visiting a High School

Visiting High School

 Yesterday I had the fortunate opportunity to visit Uijeongau High School.  One of the students who graduated from the IGSE University, who is taking my 2 week workshop, is a high school teacher and invited me to come work with her school.  She works in a public high school and it is an all boys school.  

First of all coming from NYC I noticed right away how large the campus of this school is. Not only are the buildings large with large classroom space but the campus has a beautiful field and spans the entire block.  And the lunch! Everyone stops to eat between 12:30-1:30, together. And the lunch is home made and delicious! We had noodles, riche, chicken and vegetables, soup and yogurt.

In both classes, I planned to facilitate theatre games – both planning to allow them space to build ensemble but also to practice their English.  In both classes it also lead into a conversation it lead to a discussion on the impact of their choices and how it can affect a community. 

I noticed right away how respectful everyone was of teachers. Even as we walked through the hallway the students stepped aside and bowed as we passed.  In addition when the students entered the room and said goodbye. It was a little hard to get used to, in fact so different than American culture. 

I also noticed how similar children are all over the world. These students for the most part were very good and listened very well but of course there were the one or two who were acting silly.  They also loved to laugh and were very curious about students their age in the US. 

It was such a great experience!

 To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination. 
-Bell Hooks

#fulbrightspecialist #fulbright #exchangeourworld #ccnyprepares #ccnysoe #artsed #sabbaticallife @ccnyedtheatre

This site/blog is not an official U.S. Department of State site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Too much Sobha?

Too much Sobha?

Tonight we finished day 4 of the TIE Project class. We are devising a piece of theatre called English Education, Why?  Learning English is a controversial topic in South Korea. Many look at it as a skill that impacts, jobs, status and many look at it as interference with other education.  The TIE Project class was able to put 4 devised scenes together based on interviews the graduate candidates conducted with students, other teachers and community members in only 2 hours! I was excited because these are not drama students, but they took the leap and the piece is really shaping up! 

But my morning started in the Creative Drama class. We broke apart drama strategies and talked about how it can enhance a students experience and the importance of arts integration. These pre-service and in-service teachers jumped right in, asked great questions and were very thoughtful and reflected well. 

On Saturday, along with my colleague – There was a Drama and English Education one-day conference. My colleague used Creative Drama and focused on early childhood and lower elementary school activities and I focused on using Devising Theatre technique and working with middle and high school students.  We had about 50 participants and it was a huge success! 

Saturday evening my friend and I went to relax and get a much needed Korean massage.

On Sunday I was fortunate to go to her school MilkEnglish, which I learned that the “K” in Milk was a direct result of representing the work I had done with her when she was in the US (K for Kavanakudiyil). How fun! I worked with children ages 4-13 in 2 different sessions using the Educational Arts Team’s Pop Up Puppet Theatre and Reader’s Theatre combined with devising theatre techniques.  Many students from the Creative Drama class came to assist.  I wondered, was it too much Sobha?

I also had some delicious meals in here and went to Lotte World, a large tower and mall area with beautiful art and architecture. This place is huge and the technology was amazing not to mention the view from 123 flights up! 

This morning we had a meeting with the Korean Fulbright office and it was great fun taking the subway to get there! The subway is so clean and organized – the MTA could learn a little from them!

Anyway, looking forward to the week ahead.

The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.
-President Barack Obama
#fulbrightspecialist #fulbright #exchangeourworld #ccnyprepares #ccnysoe #artsed #sabbaticallife @ccnyedtheatre

This site/blog is not an official U.S. Department of State site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.