Taking it sitting down: my ESL online teaching course continues

Hope everyone is doing well. I’ve been pretty much anchored to my computer chair as my ESL (English as a Second Language) online teaching course has gone into full swing. The program is quite intensive and full of things to do, so my life is now a strange combination of being planted in one spot and being engaged in constant activity.  I’m definitely taking it sitting down!

Fortunately, I’m really enjoying the course and everything is going well. My teachers and fellow students are wonderful, and the work is interesting and engaging. I’ll be doing my first online teaching session with real students this Wednesday. Wish me luck! 🙂 Everyone take care and stay healthy! 😷

Class is in session!

Back to school: My first week of English teaching class

I just finished my first week of training in teaching English as a second language, and it looks like I’ll be extremely busy from now until the end of June. But it has been very rewarding so far. Nothing like going back to school at age 56!

One pleasure, of course, is meeting my instructors and classmates—at least online, since that’s where the entire class is taking place. What a wonderful international crew we have: men and women from the US, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ghana, Iran, and China. One of our problems is finding a time when we can all meet!

No, this isn’t us, but this is what my life looks like now! 🙂

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A new beginning in these strange times: Teaching English here in Mexico

Hope everyone is doing well, given the strange circumstances we’re all living in with the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that many people are getting hit hard, and if you are, my and Patricia’s love and prayers go out to you. We’ve been reaching out to those around us (following all the preventive protocols of course) to give what help we can. As I said in my last post, let us all be angels for each other.

Fortunately, we are doing okay ourselves. We are hunkered down at home, working online and binging on Netflix like so many others. Thank goodness our financial situation is okay. That being said, it could be better, and so I’m glad to be embarking on an exciting new venture: On Monday, I’ll begin a training course for a credential to teach English as a second language here in Mexico.

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My computer is free at last!

My trip to Arizona is going well; I’ll be leaving Saturday morning. I’ll write more about the trip later, but for now I just want to share the good news: After two years, I finally got my computer back! On Wednesday, I want to the Ajo Border Patrol Station and picked it up, along with my external hard drive and my old cell phone. If I may have a little fun with some famous lines of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, my computer is free at last!

P.S. Yes, I’m taking my precautions. I’ve gotten surprisingly good at not touching my face. 🙂 Everyone be safe and healthy!

A chapter is ending in the Arizona desert

It feels like one chapter in the ongoing saga of humanitarian aid in the Arizona desert is coming to an end. First, the government recently dropped the final charge against No More Deaths volunteer Scott Warren. Though he was acquitted of the felony harboring and conspiracy charges against him, he had been convicted of the misdemeanor of driving in a wilderness area, and was awaiting sentencing. But without giving a reason, the government asked U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins to dismiss that charge as well. So, Scott is completely free and clear.

Second, next week I’ll be heading to Ajo to retrieve my computer, hard drive, and cell phone from the Border Patrol. After two years of hearing nothing about these items despite repeated inquiries, I thought I’d never see them again. But when I least expected it, Scott’s lawyer gave me the surprising news that lo and behold, the BP finally responded to her. Thanks to the kind help of David, one of the BP asset forfeiture paralegals, my items have been located and I’ll be collecting them shortly.

Sadly, the death and disappearance of so many people in the Arizona desert continues unabated. The saga of humanitarian aid goes on, for the need is more pressing than ever. But I’ll take good news wherever I can get it!

Update on Maria 2: “Heavy stuff”

I have another update on Maria (whom I originally wrote about using the pseudonym of “Alexa”), the 23-year-old Guatemalan asylum seeker who has been in immigrant detention, separated from the six-year-old niece whom she has raised as a daughter from infancy. It’s truly heartbreaking news, but sadly, a story that is all too common in this time of senseless cruelty.

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The light at the end of the tunnel

After more than two years, I’m closer than ever to finally getting back the computer, cell phone, and external hard drive that the Border Patrol confiscated as evidence in the Scott Warren trial. After talking to several Border Patrol representatives (all of whom have been very kind and helpful) and filling out paperwork, I’ve got everything tracked down and lined up. As of today, it’s a done deal.

All I need to do now is take a trip to the Ajo Border Patrol Station to pick everything up. This station is located in the booming metropolis of Why—a question I’ve asked a lot in the past few years. Why indeed? On this sad day when the Senate acquitted Donald Trump of abuse of power, I can’t help but feel that the undoing of one example of that abuse of power—undoing in the form of the acquittal of Scott Warren and the return of my property that was seized as part of that egregious case—is a sign of hope.

So, a flight to Tucson and drive across the Arizona desert is in my near future. I don’t know “why” this all happened the way it did, but in more ways than one, I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Ajo Border Patrol Station in Why, Arizona. My stuff is somewhere in these buildings. 🙂

P.S. I just learned that today, the day of the Senate’s acquittal of Trump, a federal judge in Arizona ruled that the Trump administration’s prosecution of four No More Deaths volunteers was itself an abuse of power, violating their religious freedom. For me, Judge Rosemary Márquez’s affirmation of the right to help our brothers and sisters as an expression of love, compassion, and conscience is yet another sign of hope. Even on a dark day, there is always light.

“We are family”: Rivals join in mourning Kobe Bryant

Those of us who love basketball were shocked on Sunday to hear of the death of NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gigi (Gianna), and seven other souls in a helicopter crash. But out of this sad event came a joining that really touched me, and I’d like to share that with you here.

A little background: I grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, home of the Oregon State Beavers. I’ve been a fan of the Beavs all my life. On Sunday, the Beaver women’s basketball team was slated to play the arch-rival Oregon Ducks in a battle that is called the “Civil War.” Both teams are top-10 teams, the arena was sold out, and it was nationally televised. Everyone was expecting the usual barn burner that happens every time these two juggernauts meet. I was looking forward to seeing the game.

Gigi (Gianna) and Kobe Bryant
Oregon State and Oregon women’s basketball players in a prayer circle for the Bryants and those impacted by their death.

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British rule is a curse, my dear friend: Gandhi’s gentle firmness

I’ve been immersed in Gandhi lately, both his own writings and a massive two-volume biography (Gandhi Before India and Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World: 1914-1948, by Ramachandra Guha). I’ve loved Gandhi all my life, but my current reading has given me a new appreciation for the blessings he brought to the world.

One thing that has really jumped out at me this time is his rare combination of 1) firm, determined conviction and commitment to action when it came to issues, vision, and principles, and 2) gentle, gracious love when it came to the human beings he interacted with, even his “enemies.” In today’s climate, when a protest is called “peaceful” and “nonviolent” as long as no one physically strikes anyone—even if the protest includes angry chants of “F*** you!” directed toward opponents—Gandhi’s spirit is a breath of fresh air.

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