Friday, August 22, 2014

Adventures with Filippo: Summer's End

I am a local school teacher. I have weekends off, but my husband, Don, works weekends, so these are the last whole days we have together until my next school vacation. We have been making the most of them, and of our time with Filippo, our new exchange student through AFS Intercultural Programs.

Wednesday we spent the morning at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, "One of the Seven Engineering Marvels of the Modern World," when it was constructed about fifty years ago. Its official name is the Lucius J. Kellam, Jr., Bridge-Tunnel, although nobody calls it that. It connects nearby Virginia Beach with the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland. It is scenic, beautiful, historic, and worth the rather hefty toll that most travelers pay.


The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel crosses two channels and an inlet between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic


The Chesapeake Bay is North America's environmentally estuary. It's important. Save the bay!


There is a rest station partway along the journey where we stopped, visited the fishing pier, and visited the Sea Gull Pier Restaurant and gift shop. We also walked around and looked at some of the vessels of various sizes heading to the harbor or the sea.

We pose on the pier with our new friend, Miguel, another visitor from abroad. Filippo is 2nd from the right.


Norfolk is a major harbor. It has the world's largest naval station and is important to commercial shipping as well. We had the opportunity to watch an aircraft carrier heading out to sea, probably the U.S.S. Harry S. Truman, named after the former president. Due to the sharp eyes and loud cries of a group of children, we even spotted some dolphins breaching the water not far away from us.


The U.S.S. Harry S. Truman was easier to spot than the dolphins!

The visit gave Filippo a chance to see U.S. patriotism in action.

Filippo and Don check out the aircraft carrier.

The sign near Filippo expresses support for U.S. troops. Many families in our region have ties to the military.

A ship heads through the channel. Under it is the deep tunnel where we drove Filippo in our car. Part of the bridge is in the background.


In the afternoon, Filippo and I worked out at the local YMCA, and Filippo made an appointment to return for some training on how to use the exercise equipment there.

Yesterday our whole family, Filippo included, headed for Virginia Beach. Filippo has been very eager to see the Atlantic Ocean. It was a beautiful day, with rather gentle surf, cool but not cold water, overcast at first, but with sunshine breaking out by early afternoon. Even the jellyfish were on vacation, and I, for one, was thrilled with their absence. It was a perfect end to our summer together as a family. Soon I will be back to my teaching job, Filippo will be starting high school, and the hazy, lazy days of summer will be a quickly-fading memory.

The trips to the Bay Bridge Tunnel and to the Beach are examples of how hosting an AFS student is a richly rewarding experience. We enjoyed showing the beauties and excitement of our region with Filippo. But by doing so, we realized that we had missed visiting these favorite places. We especially decided that from now on we need to make at least one visit to the local beaches every summer, despite the fact that we dislike the work of getting ready to go as much as the tourist traffic. Some experiences are worth a little effort.

After the beach we were hungry, so we visited the all-you-can-eat buffet at Golden Corral. Afterwards we visited with our new AFS Liaison. Then Don and Filippo headed to Buffalo Wild Wings for some more male bonding time over television and American football. It wasn't a Redskins game, so I heard the local fans were not as rabid. No surprise there.

All I can say is, we are tired, and we are all going to sleep well tonight!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Adventures with Filippo: Our AFS Host Family Gets Started

Filippo (middle), Matthew, and I when we first meet. Filippo loves his Italian heritage. We love him!
 While I usually write about my family's own travels on these pages, starting today, I will be writing about our family's experiences with an exchange student from Europe. It will be a journey of our local places and daily routines, but influenced by the fresh perspectives, enthusiasms, and interests of our hosted son.

Our current family consists of myself, a Latin teacher, my husband, Don, a retired navy senior chief who is currently a local locksmith, and Matthew, my grown son from a previous marriage who has finished college. We also have two dogs, a house cat, and four backyard hens. We chose to host an exchange student through AFS because, long before Matthew was even born, my prior husband and I had hosted a student from Japan through AFS and had a positive experience.

Don and I decided to begin hosting again because Matthew was grown and (almost) gone, and because I was aware that there are many more high-school age students who desire to complete a school year in this country than there are U.S. families willing to host them.

What do I like about AFS?

  • It is an organization with long-standing experience. AFS has been organizing exchange programs since shortly after World War II.
  • Its history. It started as the American Field Service serving our armed forces during the wars. After World War II, AFS Intercultural Programs began with a mission of fostering understanding between nations and cultures in an effort to prevent future wars. 
  • These are missions and ideals I can relate to and want to help. Hosting an exchange student takes time and money, and the host families through AFS host out of the goodness of their hearts and to foster the AFS mission. They do not receive financial compensation for hosting. I think this says something positive about the type of families that AFS attracts and about the AFS experience.
  • I also like AFS's commitment to working with diverse families in terms of cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, income levels, etc.
  • AFS has a strong volunteer tradition. They have experienced AFS volunteers and support professionals. There is a safety net in place for both host parents and students.
  • AFS is careful about placement. It does a good job of matching students and families but always has a "plan B" if it turns out that this student and this particular family are not a workable match. It checks host families' backgrounds carefully and inspects homes before and after placements to make sure the students are safe and secure in their new homes.
  • AFS puts safety first. There are strong rules in place against the hosted students' use of drugs, alcohol, driving, or hitchhiking, and AFS makes these expectations clear to all involved. Students come with their own insurance, and host families are trained about what to do in case of illness or injury.
  • AFS is fun. The AFS students I have hosted have been positive about the AFS experience and enthusiastic about the organization. They want to get the most out of their experiences here that they can. They are interesting people to have around.

AFS says it enrolls students in the local public schools for the host families. This is partially true. AFS got the process started, and it made sure that the local school system will accept the exchange student. But we still needed to make an appointment, which we had this morning, to finalize paperwork, finish the enrollment process, and select courses. 

Filippo is Italian, but he was born in Germany and grew up there. He has never ridden on a school bus before because Germans take public transportation to school. He has also never had the opportunity to pick out his own classes. He made some great selections and seems happiest to be taking Spanish, his fourth language, and an introductory Marine Biology course, which apparently isn't offered at home. 

Filippo (right) is excited about his first ride in a school bus; at home he rides public transportation

Filippo seems much more comfortable about the start of the school year since he has met some of the teachers and students at his new school after our appointment with Guidance today. His new school has tremendous school spirit and a locally popular American football team. There is a big pre-season game on Saturday and our whole family plans to go. Despite the initial culture shock on Filippo's part, and the adjustment on our part of having a new family member, we seem to be off to a good start. Don and Filippo are at a local restaurant as I type, checking out the local sports scene and the local fans for the Washington Redskins. Knowing the popularity of the Redskins in this region of the country, the fans will be rabid. Don understands enough about football to give his new son a good introduction as they watch the game.

I just realized today that, through Filippo, I will get a chance to see what it is like to be a parent in the local public school system. My own son chose to attend a private boarding school, Culver Academies, located in Indiana. Matthew attended on scholarship. While my ex-husband and I had time and money for one or two visits to the school per year, we certainly missed many of the events that our son participated in. Now I get a chance to attend events, cheer our new son's team and school on, and be involved with teen life on a daily basis. I am looking forward to it.

Don and I both like teenagers. As a high school teacher, I work with them for 180 days per year. I love it. And Don is a retired Senior Chief for the U.S. Navy, where he mentored many young men. So this is an experience that feels good (and in some ways familiar) to both of us. We both have also traveled to other parts of the world and are open to other languages, cultures, and perspectives, as well as to sharing our own. And Matthew seems to be bonding with his "baby brother."

Filippo, who is very sociable, is making friends with everyone he meets. He has never had pet dogs or cats and has always wanted a beagle, so he has been spending some quality time with our dogs, especially with our beagle, Red, whom I got at my first chicken swap.

Update: This September (2014) over 300 AFS students are coming to the U.S. but still need host families. Might you be one of them? Check out this website to meet some of them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, Summer 2014, Last Day (Latin)

Die sexto (Iulii 13) Solis die

ultimo die Conventiculi Dickinsoniensis colloquium de rebus scholasticis habebatur. post pausam, omnes ludo fruebantur de "rerum et verborum copia." Terentius Milenaque nobis paucas periodos dederunt, in quibus aliquot verba litteris inclinatis scripta erant. temptavimus alia verba Latine idem declarantia cogitare vel dare. proverbia quoque nobis data sunt. necesse erat nobis Latine proverbia omnia explicare.

fabellae nostrae tandem coram omnibus dabantur. spectatores fabellis fructi sunt; assidue ridebant plaudebantque; etiam tirones mihi dixerunt se totam fabellam nostram intellexisse. finis Conventiculi erat iucunda!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, Summer 2014, Fifth Day (Latin)

Die quinto (Iulii 12) Saturni die

cum Tirones de vestimentis dicere discerent, ego et meus grex fabellam scaenicam praemeditabamur. dialogus est tam bene expolitus et iucundus ut, si fabellae Latinae in "Broadway" in Novo Eboraco agerentur, nostrum mitterem. in his pagellis fabellam nostram ipsi legatis si velitis.

omnes perlegimus de loco Vergilii in quo Dido Aenean accusat et Aeneas reginam relinquit.

Grex Musica, "Vickie Vaughn Band," mihi valde placuit!

Vickie Vaughn Band

post prandium perambulavi Collegium Dickinsoniense. ante bibliothecum festum musicum generis musici, "Blue Grass." carmina gregis musicae, nomine "Vickie Vaughn Band," me valde delectaverunt.

postea sermonem cum "Vickie Vaughn" ipsa habebam. habemus amicum communem, nomine Ricky Braddy, cantatorem. Ricky olim canebat in emissione televisifica, nomine "American Idol," sed non erat victor huius certaminis. iuvenis Ricky paulisper fuerat discipulus meus in Carolina Septentrionali. et Ricky et Vickie fuerunt discipuli in eadem schola musicae. quam parvus locus est orbis terrarum in quo habitamus!

haec festa musicae fiunt quotannis


postquam novam amicam (Vickie) inveni, ad sessiones nostras reveni. de modis docendis colloquium habuimus, dein sessionem in qua imagines a nobis describebantur.

fabulam de testudine et cuniculo narravi


in ultima sessione hodierna colloquium de itineribus habebatur. index verborum nobis traditus est. dixi pauca de marito meo, qui erat nauta submarinus in Bello Frigido. multa itinera sub aequoribus fecit. multa arcana fecit; non licet ei (etiam nunc) de his rebus loqui. mihi tamen librum, nomine "Blind Man's Bluff," tradidit. liber est historia navigationum submarinarum in Bello Frigido. post librum legendum, pro certo scio maritum esse et fortissimum et insanum. patriam amat, et ego eum!

Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, Summer 2014, Fourth Day

Die Quarto (Iulii 11) Veneris die:

hodie Tirones de cibo loquebantur cum Peritiores fabellas scaenicas componere pergeremus.  grex meus finem dialogi expoliendi paene confecimus. ad Alannum dialogum per interrete misi. Alannus promisit se ultima verba dialogi expoliturum esse, et chartis diologi luce expressis se quoque rediturum ut noster grex versus scriptos haberet ut praemeditaremur.

in altera sessione, Tirones exercitiis ludisque fruebantur. Peritiores aenigmata antiqua legebamus et solvebamus. postea in gregibus aenigmata nova composuimus. grex meus duo aenigmata composuimus.

Exempla Aenigmatorum Antiquorum

Exempla Aenigmatorum Antiquorum


Milena Minkova in nostro conclave

Cum pranderemus, amicus, nomine Mica, dixit me Latine etiam melius locuturam esse, si Romae in Accademia Vivario Novo aestivem. praesertim si stipendium ullo modo invenerim, ibo.

post pradium Peritiores nostra aenigmata priore excogitata coram omibus recitavimus. omnes breviter solvere conabantur. scripsi duo aenigmata a grege meo scripta. indicium post aenigmata scripta faciam; nolite legere nisi vultis! sed solutionem cupiatis, id mihi narrate!

Aenigma Primum:

catenam habeo, sed vincta non sum
sellam habeo in qua numquam sedeo
aliquando aquam porto, sed numquam sitio
duobus circulis progredior, si quis me dirigat

Aenigma Secundum:

potens sum ferreum
itinera mea sunt longa sicut ego ipsum
olim vapore plenum fui
nunc fulgore aut oleo Diseliano moveor
modo super terra repo, modo sub terra volo


(indicium: ambo sunt vehicula)

Post pausam in greges minores, Tirones Peritiores commixti, divisi sumus ut locum Vergilii explicaremus. Terentius unicuique gregi paucos versus huius loci designavit. unusquisque grex versus summatim descripsit. licet nobis aliquid dicere de vi, metro, ordine verborum, et perinde. aliquis electus a grege coram omnibus recitavit.

vespere plurimi ad praedium rusticum, nomine Dickinson Farm, iter fecerunt. ibi fiebant ambulatio, sermones de situ et de agricultura, et cena communis vel convivium sub divo.
in praedio non adfui, quod ad cenam cum familiaribus mariti mei invitata sum. ad tabernam Asianam, nomine "Issei Noodle," iimus, dein ad tabernam iucundam, quae cremum gelidum bene notum vendit, erravimus. nomen tabernae est "Leo's."

Familiares mei mariti. Sto ad dextram.

Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, Summer 2014, Third Day

Die tertio (Iulii 10) Iovis die

hodie Tirones de rebus domesticis loquebantur et exercitiis ludisque iterum fruebantur cum Peritiores fabellas scaenicas componere pergerent. heri cum ceteri prandio cenaque pausisque fruerentur, diligenter laborabam. consilia nostri gregis in initium dialogi converti.

verba quae scripseram comites meos delectaverunt. nos simul dialogum nunc mutamus, complemus, et expolimus. dialogus noster est de mure barbaro, qui Latine loqui non potest. nomen est ErasMUS. solus est, sed murem venustam videt per interrete et statim amat.

sed est difficultas. mus venusta est doctissima et amicum Latine loquentem cupit. Erasmus loco interretiali "Google Translate" utitur, at Mus Latina eum non bene intellegit. ad eam per epistulas electronicas carmina Amoris a poetis notissimis scripta mittit. versus Murem Latinam delectant, sed nunc de vita Erasmi legere vult. invitat eum ad Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, quo ipsa iter facit ut melius Latine loqui discat. finis dialogi est hilaris. post Conventiculum fortasse in his paginis dialogum perfectum scribam.

post prandium omnes locum Vergilii de precibus iratis Iarbae et Mercurio mandata Iovis legimus. post pausam locum e libro XIII Aeneidos legimus. hic liber a Maffaeo Vegio (1407-1458) compositus est. optime fluit, et vestigia Vergilii bene secutus est. nihilominus celeriter me taesum est huius poematii, quod rixae in eo omnino deerant. gaudebam autem quod Vegius vitae Aeneae finem laetum nobilemque dedit.

postea imagines ex ephemeridibus (Punch et The Saturday Evening Post) deliniatas et iocosas inspiciebamus. primo conabamur animalia, homines, et alia in imaginibus describere, deinde decernere et exprimere quid imagines de condicione animalium aut hominum indicarent, tandem dicere qua de re imagines nobis esse absurdae viderentur.

quid accidit in picturis? cur imagines sunt hilares?

quid accidit in imaginibus? cur omnes ridemus?



post cenam quidam particeps Conventiculi, nomine Stephanus Farrand, vir eloquens, oratiunculam brevem ab hora octava et dimidia habebat. nomen huius orationis erat, "Ludus et Ictus." paucos post menses in Europa orationem similem habebit.

maritus meus familiares in urbe Carlisle habet. me ad cenam crastinam invitaverunt. libenter consensi. nunc necesse est mihi explicare Terentio Milenaeque cur ad convivium (sub divo) in Fundo Dickinsoniensi crastinum non adveniam. debeo aliquid Tulliae quoque, quod credit se me ad fundum autocineta vecturam esse.

Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, Summer 2014, Second Day (Latin)

Die altero (Iulii 9) Mercurii die

in sessione prima, Tirones exercitiis ludisque iterum fruebantur. nos Peritiores in greges minores divisi fabellas scaenicas nostras componere incepimus. post pausam Tirones de caeli temperie locuti sunt, sed Peritiores de versibus Hubertini Carrarae locuti sumus. hi versus epici de Christophero Columbo scripti sunt. Columbus et nautae parati sunt ad navigandum. Columbus contionem habet; nautis suis confessus est de periculis ad Indos navigandi, sed quoque praemia locupleta meritaque promittit. nautae volunt navigare similes equis in carcere stantibus. Apollo ipse celerius per caelum se movet ut sit nuntius Indicis Columbi et nautarum advenientium. Hubertinus Carrara non est auctor notus, et non est solus auctor, etiam poeta, qui de navigatione Christophori Columbi Latine scripsit. Columbus est non solum novus Aeneas, sed etiam heros Christianus.

cum pranderem, colloquium cum socio, nomine Michaeli, habui. ego, quae in agello in urbe habito, quattuor gallinas habeo. sed Michaelis ruri habitat. alias gallinas (fortasse quoque gallos) colit ut consumat, alias gallinas ut ova producant. habet viginti gallinas quae ova producant, et illa ova non solum consumit sed etiam vendit.

confessa sum me esse holerariam; id est, ego nulla animalia consumo; gallinas meas esse mihi delicias, et me eas numquam consumpturam esse. eum rogavi quid cum gallinis faciat cum senescant. ego et Michaelis bene scimus gallinas veteres pauca ova producere. Michaelis dixit se iugulum gallinarum humaniter caesurum esse. gallinae brevissimo tempore exanimatae cadent. caro gallinarum veterum est dura: ergo Michaelis eas lente et longum tempus coquet.

dixi discipulos meos, ubi de sacrificio Romano legerent, primo abhorruisse. saepe eos rogavi num ipsi caronem consumerent et de origine huius caronis cogitarent. eos non culpo, sed exhortor ut intellegant animalia quae consumant olim vixisse. discipuli putant sacrificia Romanorum esse crudelia, sed re vera Romani humaniter animalia mactaverunt. animalia mactare erat sacrum quod vitam animalium honoravit aestimavitque. discipuli nesciunt num animalia quae consumant humaniter educata et mactata sint annon; sed nolunt videre aut scire aut de his rebus cogitare. culpant mores Romanos sed inspicere suos nolunt. saporem caronis sibi placere, et sibi satis esse, mihi dixerunt.

Michaelis addidit caronem quam discipuli mei consumunt re vera saporem malum habet, sed discipulos esse huius ignaros; habitus in quibus haec animalia educata et mactata sunt esse tam malos ut sapor corrumperetur. omnino consensi.

post prandium, nos omnes locum Vergilii legebamus et explicabamus. erat locus de nuptiis Didonis Aeneaeque. iterum pausam habuimus, deinde tres imagines de medicis medicamentis inspiciebamus et describebamus. deinde in greges separati colloquia brevia de his imaginibus scripsimus; postea dialogos coram omnibus recitavimus; hi dialogi spectatoribus professoribusque placuerunt, ut opinor.

quid hic homo putat et dicit et cur?

quid medicus facit in hac pictura? quid omnes dicunt?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, Summer, 2014, First Day (Latin)

Die Primo (Iulii 8) Martis Die

sessio prima erat sessio communis. orationes audivimus et Anglice et Latine, praesertim de libris de grammatica, de lexicis, et de libellis qui ad artem sermocinandam pertinent.

Conclave Principale


post pausam brevem, sessio secunda incepit. in hac sessione Tirones a Peritioribus divisi sunt. Tirones de salutationibus praecepti sunt, sed Peritiores de studiis suis et de vita sua et etiam de tempore subsicivo (otioso) colloquebamur.

Terentius et Milena nobis omnibus tempus longum, id est, duas horas, ad prandium consumendum cotidie dabant. post prandium, Tirones exercitiis ludisque fructi sunt, sed Peritiores de Alibii Tibulli carmine locuti sumus. locus erat excerptus ex Elegiarum libro primo, qui incipit:

Divitias alius fulvo sibi congerat auro
Et teneat culti iugera multa soli...

carmen est et pulcherrimum et philosophicum. Tibullus de militia flocci non facit. poeta autem est miles et dux deae Veneris. puella, nomine Delia, eum omnino vicit. vita est brevis, et Tibullus cum Delia vitam quietam simplicemque agere vult.

post pausam, omnes, id est, Tirones communiter cum Peritioribus, divisi sunt in greges ut de loco Horatii loqueremur. Erat locus notissimus de mure rustico et mure urbano. versus erant similes versibus Tibulli: ambo carmina vitam simplicem et rusticam laudant.

opus erat nobis Peritioribus argumenta ex hoc loco carpere ut fabellam scaenicam produceremus. fabellas scaenicas ultimis horis nostri Conventiculi egimus, Milena et Terentio et Tironibus spectantibus.

post pausam Peritiores iterum cum Tironibus commixti sunt. in greges divisi sumus et de duabus picturis locuti sumus. prima pictura erat Iudicium Paridis, quam Anselmus Feuerbach (1829-1880) pinxit. altera pictura appellatur Equus Troianus. Henricus Paulus Motte (1846-1922) hanc imaginem pinxit. de fabellis Graecis in his imaginibus sermonem habuimus.

Iudicium Paridis

Equus Troianus

et Peritiores et Tirones esuriebant. post hodiernas sessiones omnes ad tabernas ambulavimus quae in urbe Carlisle sitae sunt. cum ambularemus, ventus vehementer inflabant.  postquam omnes sellas nostras in taberna invenimus, caelum aperuit et tam vehementer pluvit ut omnes timeremus ne nos reveniremus madidi.

 Laeti cenamus in taberna in urbe Carlisle


sed post cenam omnes vidimus caelum esse serenum. dei igitur nobis et nostro Conventiculo favebant!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, Summer 2014, First Post (English)

Dickinson Blog, Summer of 2014

Today is Monday, July 7, 2014. I am attending my third "Conventiculum Dickinsoniense" in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It is a weeklong Latin language immersion workshop run by Terence Tunberg and Milena Minkova of the University of Kentucky in Lexington. I have already written about my experiences at last year's Conventiculum.

This year I traveled up to Conventiculum with a new friend, Mary Anna White, who at the Conventiculum will later call herself "Tullia." Mary Anna teaches Latin at Granby High School in Norfolk, Virginia. She was kind enough to drive up to Pennsylvania and was a terrific travel companion. We talked in English on a variety of topics, from our schools, to politics, to teaching strategies and projects, religion, school systems, you name it. She is married to a Latin teacher, so I got to hear a little bit about what that is like.

Mary Anna seemed to like traveling with someone who had a good GPS with a via point that got us around the worst of the Washington, DC, traffic. She also liked the fact that I had been to Conventiculum before and knew where and how to check in on campus, where to park behind our dormitory, etc. We are staying in a dormitory called Goodyear, which is interesting and artsy but not very healthful. It has air quality issues, and I can already feel my sinuses reacting to something in the building. But I am determined not to let this get me down.

Tonight we have our initial reception at the Rector Science Center Atrium on the beautiful Dickinson College campus. We will get to know the fellow participants and the professors a little bit in English, Latin, or whatever languages we choose. Tomorrow morning, after some initial announcements, we will subscribe to a solemn oath only to use Latin with our fellow participants for the rest of the week, which means until noon on Sunday.

I think that this year I will do something different and write about my experiences at Conventiculum to the best of my abilities in Latin. That will be better practice for me. Hopefully, I will produce writing that will be of interest and benefit to Latin-language readers and speakers around the globe.

I also want to try to get a decent video clip of each of the professors speaking Latin this year, something short but good that I can post so that Latinists who have never participated in Conventiculum can get a little taste of the high quality of these professors, and of what Conventiculum is like.

Update: I got some video clips, but, unfortunately, I can't seem to find a way to get them from my Amazon Kindle to this blog! How frustrating! Here is a clip from Amazon Cloud Drive, but it's not the best video clip I took. I'm not sure of the quality of the actual video, either. Terence is getting ready for talking about Greek mythology based on some pictures he's distributing.

Right now I am still trying to decide whether I will put myself in the Tirones, or Freshmen, group. or in the Peritiores, or more skilled Latin speakers' group. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. The Peritiores read and discuss a broader range of literature from a variety of time periods, right up to the modern era. The Tirones work more on vocabulary development and oral expression and participate in a wider variety of games and exercises, which honestly might be more practical to adapt for the introductory Latin courses that I mostly teach. I may ask the professors at the reception tonight what they think.

I also plan to attend the Conventiculum Lexintoniense at the University of Kentucky later this summer. I plan to write up those experiences Latine, too.

Update on 8/8/14: I met my goals this summer, except I never really got decent video of Milena and Terence because my Kindle was uncooperative about posting them online. I got side-tracked and never posted about Kentucky, either, which was very similar in format to the Carlisle program. But either way I scooped The Washington Post on summer Latin Camp. What fun!

Update on 8/13/14: This fun blog post follows up on the article and quotes U.S. presidents translated into Latin.  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Why I Like to Speak Latin

I am a Latin teacher in Southeastern Virginia. There are several reasons I came to try conversational Latin. First of all, I had a very strong education in German in college through the intermediate level. I attended the University of Vermont and obtained a BA in Latin there. While my Latin and ancient Greek classes used a grammar-translation approach, I spent many hours in a language lab for German, plus all our German classes were immersion. German is an inflected language with a different word order from English, and I got a taste of thinking and speaking in a foreign tongue, which I enjoyed.

My travels in Italy have also played a role. I am eternally grateful to the Fund for Teachers and other organizations that made it possible for me to study extensively in Italy in the Summer of 2010. I studied as much phrasebook Italian as I could and found I needed it to get by in the areas of Campania where our group was staying. The less touristy the area, the less English was spoken. The experience of needing to listen, speak, and use every resource at my disposal to understand what was going on around me and to communicate my needs fired up an interest in the active use of Latin in my own classroom.

I also blogged extensively about the 2010 trip at MagistraBurke.blogspot.com. As a teacher, I thus became a role model of someone who creates online content and does not just passively consume it. I continue to blog regularly on various topics up through the present day, a fact which pleasantly surprises my Latin students. These and other experiences have led me to use more technology in my teaching, to create experiences where students can create online content for others to use (district policies permitting), and has provided my class with background information and pictures to share during those "teachable moments" that arise in all classrooms. Like many Americans, I had never heard of the fascinating caves and remains at Sperlonga prior to this trip, for example.

During another, earlier trip to Italy, I was a teacher accepted for summer study at the American Academy in Rome. This was in the summer of 1988. Reginald Foster held his famous summer Latin immersion programs in the same neighborhood where we were headquartered, il Janicolo, where I had the opportunity to overhear participants of the immersion program walking through the streets, talking fluently and confidently in Latin, albeit with an ecclesiastical accent. At that time I wished I could converse with them.

Back then it seemed a bit of an esoteric and flaky thing to do, but the rise of spoken-Latin events in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world since then make it seem more practical and increasingly main-stream. It is something that can be done often enough that one can develop one's skills and use them regularly. If I can get by in non-English speaking areas of Italy with my little bit of broken, phrasebook Italian, why can't my students and I get by in an immersion environment in a language similar to Italian, but one which I have a much more thorough knowledge of, both of its vocabulary and of its syntax, however passively acquired, and even of its history and culture?

Also, if my students develop active Latin skills, there are places of higher learning where they can continue to apply them if they choose. I wish there were more, but at least I don't feel I am teaching my students a skill they can never use again, or never use outside my classroom. 

Since 1988 I have had the privilege of working in a couple of high-poverty school systems with students of diverse ethnicities, mostly African-American. In an effort to reach a broader range of students, I began to experiment with oral teaching methods, starting with Total Physical Response, which I learned from a pamphlet I had purchased through the ACL Teaching Materials and Resource Center. I had strong success in teaching to a range of learning styles and engaging even some students who were, frankly, not all that interested in learning from textbooks. I began to think it would be neat to teach Latin students in something closer to the immersion experience I had enjoyed in German in my college days. Unfortunately, beyond TPR, I was not sure where to proceed. 

I have also done some reading on language acquisition and am convinced that the grammar-translation method through which I had been taught is fundamentally flawed in that it only appeals to a very limited range of learning styles. I also obtained not only a Masters Degree in Classics from Tufts University but also a Masters in School Administration from East Carolina University, where I also was trained as an instructional specialist. It was at ECU that I studied about Howard Gardner's theories of multiple intelligences, and I also learned that many of the students who drop out of U.S. high schools drop out due to boredom and due to the fact that they see little relevance in what they are learning in high school. 

When I returned to the classroom, I wasn't sure what I would do, but I was determined to do things differently and to at least avoid boring my students wherever possible. I felt I needed to find fresh ways of educating and of challenging them. I joined the Latin Best Practices List, a Yahoo group full of wonderful Latin teachers, where I mostly lurk (and still do). There I picked up some other ideas about the importance of Comprehensible Input and its usefulness for language acquisition. I attended my first Conventiculum, Conventiculum Dickinsoniense, in the summer of 2010, but Conventiculum is designed for people who already can read Latin and who already know its grammar passively, but just need to learn to speak it. There are some good ideas that can be applied in my classroom, but I was still at a loss where to start beyond some thematic vocabulary and TPR. 

So from there I took a Blaine Ray TPRS (Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling) workshop, and there I got the tools I need to take my Latin classes further in a conversational direction. Our school system uses the Cambridge Latin Course, which is strong on stories, anyway, so I am trying to blend the two approaches at the moment. Right now I am thinking about getting a little further away from the Cambridge in class, perhaps using it mostly for reading homework assignments along with the use of the CLC Online resources. The CLC Online and E-Learning Resources can help my students avoid frustration with the massive vocabulary involved in reading the textbook series. In class I am currently thinking of using made-up stories that involve the Greek and Roman gods, since mythology is a weak point of the CLC, and many of my students want more mythology. I may change my mind; I always have more ideas to try than I have time to implement in a given school year.

I actually joined my first Conventiculum in 2011 because it was an inexpensive way of getting recertification points in my content area, which North Carolina, the state where I was teaching, had recently required. North Carolina is near the bottom in its pay for teachers, I was teaching in one of the poorer districts, there was no money for this kind of staff development, and the Conventiculum offered a quality experience within a reasonable distance that I could actually afford. So I basically enrolled in the first one to keep my job. But I am so glad I did! I attended a Conventiculum Dickinsoniense again last year and followed it up with a Dickinson Summer Latin workshop where we read, under Dickinson's professors, all of Book IV of Ovid's Fasti using a traditional translation approach. 

I intend no offense to the Dickinson professors; they were wonderful! But I found the translation approach so ... boring and sterile, in the wake of the Conventiculum Dickinsoniense's immersion program, that I truly wished I had had more of the immersion experience. Terence Tunberg told me last summer that he felt I was ready to follow up on Dickinsoniense with the Lexington experience, so I signed up for both Conventicula this summer. In the future I would like to attend one of the summer-long immersion experiences available in Italy if I can somehow find scholarship money to attend. 

In my own classroom, I find my Latin I students are much more enthusiastic about the language as a result of their experiences speaking, listening, and acting stories out, so while I feel I am a beginner at teaching this way, I want to continue to improve and move in this direction. I continue to seek out immersion experiences to improve my own command of the language, because it's fun and enriching, and to pick up ideas that I might be able to adapt for my own classroom. What I like about Milena Minkova and Terence Tunberg's program is that I can use Classical pronunciation, participate relatively inexpensively, and learn without leaving the East Coast. Plus they are true experts in the language, and they are both wonderful and caring teachers. I want to take every opportunity I can to study with them while they are still around and willing to do it. I feel I missed a valuable opportunity to enroll in Reggie Foster's programs, and I am not going to waste other opportunities to immerse myself in a language that I love.

I am in a large school system with quite a few Latin teachers and a thriving Latin program. Most of my colleagues think I am nuts to want to speak it. But so far I have been free to experiment with my methods. I have the support of my Assistant Principal of Instruction and of our district's head of foreign languages. Where I have the opportunity, I would like to spread the enthusiasm for the active approach and for comprehensible input both within my school system and in neighboring school systems. I am Vice President of the Tidewater Classical Symposium, a regional group, so I plan to find some non-threatening ways of spreading active methods through that group regionally.

I have had a lot of training in student engagement under the Schlechty Center for Leadership in School Reform through my prior school system, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools. I often use an engagement meter in my Latin classes to ascertain what is working for students and what is not. I am not sure that that my own immersion experiences led to more use in the classroom as much as my students' feedback is leading to the change. Most really like it. I also use a lot of technology and Smart Board exercises due to their feedback about what works for them. I really try a lot of different methods to try to reach as many of my students as I can. I also realize this is a generation of mostly digital learners.

What I would really like to see, long-term, is for my program to grow enough that we need another Latin teacher at my school. I would like us to attract someone who is trained to or at least willing to use an active approach. I am convinced that it is not only the true "traditional" approach, but the way of the future if Latin is to continue to thrive locally, nationally, and across the globe.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Day at the Knotts Island Peach Festival



This morning, Matthew and I drove about an hour over some very country but pleasant roads in nice weather to the Knotts Island Peach Festival in North Carolina. Knotts Island is the kind of place where everybody knows everybody else.  The peaches looked delicious, but we didn't buy any, because they were from South Carolina. We figured we'd buy when the local ones are available in a couple of weeks.

The peaches were gorgeous but from South Carolina

If these signs don't set your mouth to watering, I don't know what will!

 There weren't a lot of rides, but the kettle corn we had for lunch was good, and there was a fire truck to see, a swamp buggy and an air boat on display, and lots of booths where we could talk to vendors and purchase goods, including local preserves from Fresh Batch Jams, art, and hand crafts. I bought jam, a beautiful wooden bracelet, and a sign that says, "dance as if no one is watching," from Designs by Di. Di came all the way from Chincoteague, Virginia.

There were bouncy houses and this "train" ride for the young and the young at heart


While I really liked the polished agate stone wind chimes by Dakota Chimes of Newport News, Virginia, and the recycled art work by RdRC Upcycled Art, my budget didn't let me buy any. My favorite part of the event was the live music, which played continuously and was good. Much of it was gospel music.

RdRc Upcycled Art was so pretty, it was hard to imagine it was from re-purposed items

More Upcycled Art from RdRC Upcycled Art. She also makes "fish" and "flowers" from plastic bottles.

Diane Saul of Designs by Di chats with a customer. I purchased one of her quality signs. Many had beach themes.


On the way home, we stopped at Mermare's Cottage Farm, which I had heard about through Facebook, to get a tour of her farm and see some different breeds of chickens. Deborah, who owns the farm, was gracious enough to give us a personal tour. We saw some beautiful birds and some rare breeds that you don't often see in this area. I especially liked the Jubilee Orpingtons. She had two hens and a rooster. I wish I'd thought to take pictures! She promised to contact me when she has fresh honey in a couple of weeks, so maybe I'll bring my camera when I go back.

All in all, it was a great day. We came home tired and a little sunburned, but it was well worth the trip.

A Country Gospel Singer Entertained Us!
video
I'm sure glad we didn't need a swamp buggy to get home!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ford and Edison Winter Estates

Don and I spent a short vacation in Ft. Myers, Florida, over my spring break. Highlights were the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and visiting the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. We also spent some time relaxing by the pool, which Don says he needs to do more often.

I didn't take any pictures of the wildlife refuge, mostly because we spent a lot of time there kayaking and I was afraid I'd get my electronics wet. But I took a lot of pictures at the Edison and Ford Estates. I will post a sample here. Don and I really enjoyed the visit and want to go back. Ford and Edison were neighbors in Florida and very close friends. It is very easy to walk from one property to the other.

Matt Andes, a site historian, plays a recording for us!

A 1929 Ford Model A

A 1917 Ford Model TT Truck
Statue of Henry Ford

Ford Model TT Truck

1919 Model T Ford
A view of Thomas Edison's Estate

The kitchen on the Ford or Edison winter estates

A statue of Edison under a Banyan tree. Edison tested many kinds of plants for potential industrial use.
Statue of Mina Miller Edison, Thomas Edison's Wife
Mina Edison installed this moonlight garden
Pretty view at the back of Mina Edison's Moonlight Garden
The Edison's Swimming Pool, One of the First in Florida

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Latin Mass

I attended parochial school in high school. I first learned Latin there, which turned into my college major and my eventual career as a Latin teacher. I even taught in a couple of parochial schools in New England. But, ironically, I had only heard about Latin masses from my father and my grandparents. Due to an accident of birth, I had never seen one, because I grew up after Vatican II in the early 1960s.

That all changed today, when I visited St. Benedict's Chapel right here in Chesapeake, Virginia. St. Benedict's is one of 400 or so Roman Catholic churches in the United States that celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass. This traditional service, although growing steadily in recent decades, is still pretty hard to find, so I was thrilled to learn that St. Benedict's offers all its Masses in Latin, and that it was only a few miles away from my house.

Pictures Courtesy of St. Benedict's Website



So today, I realized a long-term desire and finally got an opportunity to hear and see a Traditional Latin Mass for myself. Here are my general impressions:

It was extraordinarily beautiful. I can see why those who had grown up with it had a difficult time giving it up. The music, with all the Gregorian Chant, and with the call and response singing between the priest and the choir, was peaceful and inspiring. The congregation was dressed up, with the women in skirts and dresses and with beautiful, lacy veils covering their hair. It felt like something out of a movie.

The congregation seemed active, diverse, and healthy. There was a range of ages represented. The service was well-attended, as would be expected before Easter. The diversity of ethnicities reminded me of the huge range of the Roman Catholic Church, and the unifying power and heritage of its Latin language.

Latin Mass has become popular enough that there are bilingual materials in the pews to assist the parishoners in understanding the language of the service, which was all in Latin except for the opening hymn, the closing hymn, the announcements, and the sermon. The main aid was the St. Edmund Campion Missal and Hymnal, which offered translations of various parts of the service.

Being a Classicist, it makes me a little wistful that folks need to rely on translations at all. But perhaps this small resurgence in Latin liturgical worship betokens an increased interest in Latin, and even spoken Latin as a form of communication. It has a long and fascinating tradition, and a beautiful and solemn language.