TESOL in Seattle

I left the dry brown confines of Los Angeles for the lush green shores of Seattle on April 18. In exchange for being able to see green, I wasn't allowed to see the sun for a week. All in all, a pretty good trade. I was in town for the annual TESOL convention, staying with my aunt and uncle in Newcastle. I rode the bus into town every day. I didn't like waiting in the rain at 6:30 am, but the mass transit wasn't too bad. I certainly got a feel for the city that way.

Sunday I arrived in partly sunny skies. My cousin Jessica happened to be visiting for the weekend, too, so we headed out to a place called Northwest Trek. It was a rehabilitation center for injured birds and a reserve for large game animals of the Northwest USA. We took a tram ride to see Bison, Elk, Moose, Sheep, and three kinds of Deer. Other animals, like black and grizzly bears, cougars, wolves, lynx, and bobcats were contained in large areas with inconspicuous fencing. It was good to spend a day outdoors, smelling the detritus and pine trees instead of soot and smog in LA.

Monday I had a training at the convention for implementing K-12 English Language Learners' standards in school. Yes, it doesn't sound very exciting but necessary for educators and administrators.

Tuesday I had off, so I took a tour of the Seattle Public Library. Completed in 2004, it is a wonderful example of green design. The mayor built it to draw more residents to downtown. The windows are triple plated with aluminum shades between one gap to dissipate the sunlight from heating the interior as it comes in and has Kryptonite between the other gap to prevent heat loss from the building. The book return system is entirely automated. When you drop it off in the bin, it goes up a conveyor belt, gets scanned in, and then robotic pushers move it onto the correct cart according to its Dewey decimal system. This saves time and money from paying humans to do it, saving the city money. And they've got plenty of automatic check out kiosks. Long Beach still insists on making patrons wait as only one librarian checks everyone out of the main branch. Architecturally, the building is inspiring. So see it yourself!

Tuesday afternoon I spent with a friend of mine from college. She taught English in Miyazaki, on Kyushu island, and married a man from there. Now they live in Seattle with their daughter. It is good to be able to stay in touch, even as our lives move in different directions we still try to keep something in common. And they gave me a great tip on a Japanese 100 Yen ($1) store in town. Great! I can get the Japanese stationery that I envy!

Wednesday through Saturday were spent at the convention center. Conventions are sort of like Disneyland: you're immersed in a new world for a few days where everyone is friendly and you can let go of other cares. Seeing all my old friends and professors from MIIS was a great treat. It certainly recharged my batteries for the year and motivated me to start some classroom research to share in the future. After a full day of sessions and strolling the exhibit hall, I would come home and visit with my Aunt and Uncle. Two different worlds that I tried to communicate best with. They were so hospitable to put up with my shifting schedule of figuring out how to get home in inclimate weather.

Saturday night I hung out with my cousin and his fiancee. We toured Fremont, saw the troll and Lenin statues, and went out for breakfast the next day. I definitely got to see some interesting neighborhoods and people by hanging out with them. Thanks David and Shelly!

Sunday came so soon, and with it my return home. Of course, the sun decided to come back out to say good-bye to me. I had such a good time that I forgot to pick up and send postcards on my trip. Sorry to all the folks that felt left out. Consider this blog with included pictures as a consolation!

Thanks for patiently waiting for me to get my act together with another legitimate blog entry. Maybe its saying something that my readjustment to the USA is complete when I no longer blog like an outsider. Hmm...

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Where I've been in the USA