Swim With The Fishes

Here we are at the end of the second week of the Kyoto Summer School in Modesto. I’ve been very busy with the class and have not had time to blog much. I have been spending my afternoons out at the school working with the students and helping with any technical issues that arise. This next week will be critical, as the students will be pulling together pictures and video for their video documentaries of their trip to the U.S.

The field trip this past week was to Monterey. The focal point of this trip was the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Aquarium was kind enough to comp us our tickets to the aquarium, which opened the visit up to a lot of kids that were going to pass because of the cost and short time allocated to this part of the trip. After arriving we met out by the water behind the Group Entrance to the aquarium. There we were told a bit about the aquarium and the rules to mind while visiting:

After being briefed, and informing all of the students when they were to meet for the buses, we entered the aquarium in groups of ten students to each adult chaperone. I ran up the stairs outside to get a shot of the group from above. Comparing this to last week’s picture at Japan town, it’s obvious that the students are mixing a lot more now as they get more comfortable with each other (the Japanese students mostly have white shirts):

Once inside most of the students ventured out to the areas that interested them the most. Others were starving from the trip over and went directly into the restaurant to get some lunch while taking in the view of the ocean. When we arrived there was just a bit of fog burning off the ocean just off shore. The weather was perfect at about 70 degrees. There was plenty of sun, as opposed to the smoke filled skies of the Central Valley the past two weeks. There was a fire in Big Sur that we could see off in the distance, but the wind was thankfully blowing it away from Monterey.

This was a quick visit, with less than two hours spent in the aquarium. We started out with ten students to every adult chaperone. Each time we passed through a darkened exhibit we lost a few more students (I think they were actually ditching us). Being that the Aquarium is pretty compartmentalized, it was easy to see where they had all run off to. I even found a few trying to rest while touring the exhibits:

When it came time to get back on the buses the students were pretty good about arriving on time. I think inside of 15 minutes of when they were supposed to be out front, most students had exited the aquarium. We had to make a sweep through to pick up the stragglers, and a few were called on their cell phones, but overall they all were pretty cooperative in getting out on time. Our next stop were the Gilroy Outlet Stores.

It was good to see the students going around in mixed groups at the outlet stores. Many were in the groups they have been assigned for the video documentary project.

There were many bargains to be found at the outlet stores. I’m not sure if it’s the depressed economy or lingering promotions from the tax rebates, but there were some really great deals to be had. I can only imagine how much better the deal is with the exchange rate between the yen and the dollar. Many students were spotted with ads and maps hunting down the brands that they wanted to bring home from this trip:

Again (flash back to Fisherman’s Warf last week), the In and Out Burger looked like the stop many made before hopping back on the buses for the long trip back to Modesto. We saw a group at the intersection between the two halves of the outlet mall look at their watches, point across to the In and Out, and then run across when the light turned green with only ten minutes left before they had to be back at the buses.

The two teachers who are driving this joint summer school and exchange are Chris Flesuras (on the left below) and Brad Cornwell (in black on the right below). There have been many challenges to this visit and these classes. Both of these guys have been extremely patient in dealing with the daily challenges. We are definitely learning what needs to be tweaked next year when we do this again.

From a technology standpoint, we’ve also had many challenges to overcome. The biggest has been the network hostile nature of the new Adobe Creative Suite. We received a new version at the end of the school year, and we decided to try to implement it for this class. We’ve finally had to grant the computers running this software more rights than we normally give student machines to get the software running properly. We will have to fine tune the configuration between the end of this class and the start of the school year in a few months.

Here’s a shot of most of the Modesto class before they got back on the bus:

Compare this to last year’s picture and you will likely find a few who returned this summer to be with the visiting Japanese students. Last year they were only just starting to interact with them online. A few of these students graduated this year and came back to help out this summer. Many of these same kids have expressed an interest in going to Kyoto this next Spring.

We will likely be taking a group of around 25 to Kyoto in April as our first exchange going to Japan since 9/11. Brad has already volunteered to chaperone that trip, and I will likely be the other chaperone. We are all very excited about the opportunity to travel to Kyoto and be shown the sites by these students and their teachers. I have a feeling that the first half of the school year will be filled with fund raising to get these students over to Kyoto in the Spring.


One response to “Swim With The Fishes

  1. I’ve been following your blog with interest for a while now, and realised I really should leave a comment! Thankyou for sharing your journey with us – it’s inspirational! And I find the thought of a 2-way exchange exciting… can’t wait to read all about it 🙂

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