Friday, April 28, 2006

Celebrating Linguistic Diversity 2006

After two days of attending a conference, plus an evening of Parent-Teacher's Night, I'm wiped out. Having said that, I went to the Bay on Yonge and Bloor after the conference and went shopping for sandals. They had scratch and save, and I bought 2 pairs of sandals. YAY!

The conference. Today, I heard a presentation by Kathy Escamillo, a professor from Colorado. She talked about the psychological and emotional trauma that an immigrant child has to endure, taking on adult roles and taking care of parents who can't communicate in everyday English.

Her presentation was very good, and she told many moving stories. Unfortunately, this was solely focussed on young children, so it didn't apply to my situation at all. My students have no problems maintaining their first language identity. In fact, it's harder to get them to embrace the Canadian culture and language.

Of the two workshops I attended, I found the History/Geography workshop led by 3 teachers from the York Region D.S.B. very helpful. They showed us many useful strategies on how to teach content-heavy subjects such as History and Geography to ESL students, some of whom have only a basic grasp of the language.

Today was much more useful than yesterday's.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Restaurant Review: Rex Saigon *

On Saturday, I went to the buffet restaurant on Brimley and Sheppard called Rex Saigon. It serves Thai, Vietnamese and Canadian foods. From the first few minutes of arriving at the restaurant, I already knew I would not like the experience.

In front of the lounge area by the entrance is the bar where waitresses go to pick up drinks for the customers. That is also where more than 8 parties of customers have to stand and wait for their table. My friend, T., had made a reservation for 7pm. We waited nearly an hour for our table. That is simply ridiculous!

While we stood next to the buffet waiting for our tables, we observed what foods choices there were. The most popular ones were the lobster and crab stations. People, young and old, men and women, held emply plates in their hands, standing next to the empty lobster and crab stations, waiting to pounce on the next delivery from the kitchen by the servers. When she started approaching, one eager customer said, "there it comes, there it comes!" When the food was poured from a big bowl into the dish, everyone stabbed their tongs into the lobster pile. Their plates were piled high, and in less than 1 minute, it was all gone.

The only things I liked were the oyster in garlic sauce and the mango salad. They were both very fresh, very delicious. The green curry with vegetables was too greasy. That's about all that I tried, cause that's all that interested me. Everything else reminded me too much of a fast food counter.

Overall, I give this buffet * out of 5. I would not go there again if I can help it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Evolving Church Conference, 2006

Yesterday, I attended the conference organized by Epiphaniea Inc. This was my first time attending a Christian conference, so I really didn't know what to expect. It was held at the Tyndale University College and Seminary. Also in attendance were Muzpuppet, ChiquitaWonder and some other friends from ETCBC.

I got there at 8:20am and I had to join a long line up for registration. It went quite slow. I did not get my turn until about 9 o'clock. I have never waited that long for registration before at other conferences. Finally, I got my name tag, and there was this guy directing people up another set of stairs because the passage in front of us was congested with a 2nd group of ppl trying to register. So, I went up the other stairs, only to find out that I had to go back down to get my booklet and water. That was a big miscue for the guy who directed us up the 2nd flight of stairs.

When I went to get water, I bumped into CW. Later on, I sat in the chapel for the morning worship. After that, Peter Seay was the first speaker. He was very funny, very entertaining. Then it was the workshop, and mine was held in the cafe. It was noisy there because the kitchen people were cooking and banging their pans. The speaker, Donald Miller, was quite good. We just sat there and listened to him talk. He told many amusing stories, so that wasn't too bad.

Then came lunch and we had cold cut and tuna wraps. I also had some very good veggie sticks. The drinks, though, were TERRIBLE! I had never tasted such awful juice before in my life! Yuck, yuck, yuck! After lunch, was had the afternoon worship and then we listened to the second speaker, Donald Miller. He gave a pretty good talk, but again, it was all him. I was falling asleep, partly cause I had just ate a lunch.

After that was the afternoon workshop and we listened to B. Walsh, I was positively bored to death. This gentleman thought it would be a good idea to read to us for what felt like 20 mins. He read to us!!! And it was not even an interesting story, but a dissertation/essay of some boring sort. There was some interaction, like questions from the audience at the beginning, but he didn't address those questions in his lecture. I felt bad for those folks who asked those questions, but never really got any feedback from him for them. That was such poor preparation. Why did he ask questions of the audience if he was going to completely ignore them for the next 30 mins?

At the end of the day, the last speaker was Brian McLaren. He was a fantastic lecturer. He discussed some pretty complex ideas that I had never heard of, but I was able to follow what he was saying, and I even got his point. I won't repeat it here cause I would mess it up due to my ignorance on the matters he discussed. Trust me, he was great! After this lecture, we had cookies and then we left.

Overall, I would say that the conference was not organized that well because the registration took way too long. The lunch was good, very healthy. The choice of speakers was fine, I suppose. But, I think some of the speakers should have engaged the audience better. Don't call it a workshop unless you expect people to be engaged in some kind of practical exercise. Over all, it wasn't great. I learned a little bit, but if the entire day were full of workshops with McLaren, I think I would have learned a lot more.