The Wonder of Hiking

This fall, our international student club called Bridges organized a hiking club.  While Kansas is not a destination state for hiking, we found some remarkably beautiful places. If you have never hiked on a prairie, then you are missing something really special.

IMG_7786

Our first hike was to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, which is just south of Council Grove, Kansas, in case you were wondering. We started in the late afternoon because we wanted to see the sunset across the wide prairie sky. We were not disappointed. We ate our snacks on the top of a hill and watched as the sky turned colors of pink and purple and then grew dark. In the end, the heavens were lit with stars. The first wonder is the marvelous beauty surrounding us.

The second wonder is the conversations that arise on a hike. I heard stories about wedding traditions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Columbia. I learned about the political turmoil surrounding Kashmir and India. Another student explained his perspective about Hinduism, Buddhism, and the caste system. And in-between was a lot of good-natured joking and teasing.

There are many ways to help international students feel welcome in the U.S: English conversation clubs, dinners in homes, and giving rides to stores and airports are among the many. But enjoying the out of doors together has to be at the top of my list of pleasurable things to do with international students. It combines beauty, conversation, and friendship. Please join us!

IMG_7784

 

Advertisements

Speak Out Camp, 2018 Keszthely, Hungary

Every now and then it is a good thing to break free from the routine of our lives and do something different. This summer, I went to Keszthely, Hungary to help out with an English camp for high school and college students. Think “camp.”  Not the kind in the woods, living in tents, but the kind with a week-long experience in a dorm with about 90 campers per week and almost as many staff. Think camp food, skits, music, games, and free time and you’ll have a glimpse into my life this past July.

IMG_7471

Skit time on Sports Day

What did I observe?

First, the campers had a wonderful time. Who wouldn’t? The beach on Lake Balaton was a 10 -minute walk from the dorm complete with at least 3 opportunities to buy a foggyi (ice cream) or a langos (a kind of pizza with a deep-fried dough and topped with sour cream and onions with bacon.) Or you could walk with your small group through the picturesque town that leads to a palace and garden, again laden with opportunities to treat oneself.

Secondly, the topics taught and discussed appealed to the campers. High schoolers learned about a hero journey and created and performed skits. College students studied Emotional Intelligence.

Thirdly, each afternoon, the campers and their tutors experienced intentional English conversation time that covered topics about spirituality, faith, and the Bible. Yes, this camp is operated by Christians and it is advertised that way.

Finally, each evening offered a variety of fun experiences. For example, there was a staff scavenger hunt when campers ran through the town in groups trying to locate all of the staff scattered about wearing costumes.

IMG_7340

“The Wicked Witch of West” and Dorothy (Jane) waiting for campers.

What will I take with me? I will remember to make learning fun. I will remember the value of conversations in small groups and with individuals. I will remember the courage of some campers coming to a camp not knowing anyone, to speak a language they may not be entirely comfortable with. I will remember the joy of seeing them form friendships and leave with a sense of accomplishment.

IMG_7264         IMG_7263

Thank You Speak Out Camp, Hungary, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

SaveSave

Unexpected Treasure

You may be surprised that I am adding a new post on the heels of my last entry a few weeks ago. Usually, I post a new thought every few months. However, in preparing for a trip to work at an English conversation camp, I came upon a resource I developed about 10 years ago. I made a bookmark that concisely explains what the Bible is about, who wrote it, the kinds of literature found in it, and why Christians value and read it. Also, the bookmark has the potential to help people begin reading the Bible to explore what is of interest to them. Are they interested in ancient history, wisdom, poetry, or biographies? Do they want to know something about the life of Jesus Christ or God’s love or the beginning of the church? Look for the bookmark under Conversation Discussion Guides/Bible Discussion Guides/Topics From a Biblical Perspective.

Perhaps this resource will open up a treasure of inspiration, direction, and life.
Happy hunting.

Jane

Parable_of_the_hidden_treasure_Rembrandt_-_Gerard_Dou.jpg

Parable of the Hidden Treasure by Gerrit Dou and Rembrandt van Rijn, 1630.                                                         Oil painting, 70.5 x 90 cm. Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary

 

 

Eight Weeks of Conversation Cafe

Graduation is over. Summer is upon us. Here at Kansas State University, we will host a summer Conversation Café. I like the summer Café. For one thing, we have the activities outside in front of Hale Library where there is both a small plaza and green grass.

IMG_6095

Kansas State University, Hale Library

But more importantly, we have students from around the world who come for summer classes.  Last year we met engineering students from India and English teachers from Mexico. Always, there are fun activities, good conversations and friendships are formed.

Since the Café is only 8 weeks long in the summer, I thought you might like to see the topics we chose last year. As always, students choose to discuss topics from Biblical or Lifestyle perspective. Either way, we enjoy their thoughts and learn from their contributions.

To find the list of topics and links to the guides, when you click “Conversation Discussion Guides,” you will see there is another option besides Bible and Lifestyle. You will see “Eight Weeks of Conversation Cafe.” Of course, you can always pick and choose topics from other lists on my website, depending on your audience.

Wishing you the best of summers,

Jane

Progress Report!

 

fullsizeoutput_29a0

Jane, 2016, Sasebo, Japan

When I started my website in 2013, I did it mainly to help myself stay organized with resources and my discussion guides. Later, it occurred to me that people doing English camps all over the world may find my website helpful.  One fun feature about WordPress is that is easy to see what countries are using the website and what they are looking at. Here is what I found out.

 

In 2017, there were about 3,500 visitors and about 10,000 views total. By far, the most popular page was the Lifestyle conversations with 4,000 views. The Home Page came in second at 2,000 looks. The Conversation Art Cards had 1,000 looks and Games and Topics from a Biblical Perspective each had about 400 looks.

The exciting statistic was about the countries looking at the website. There were 115 countries who looked at it from every continent except for Antarctica, of course. The top 3 were the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. India came in a close 4th.

Recently, I heard from a ministry team from Slovakia who wanted to plan an eight-week English camp. Here is the letter emailed to me.

We gathered as a Team today to discuss what we wanted our English                   Clubs to look like this semester. Several of us came into the meeting very unsure and with a bit of anxiety since we didn’t have credible experience with English Clubs and had scattered ideas.

Then, we opened your website, and everything took off.

We have 8 solid, organized weeks of topics to discuss, games, and more. This is all thanks to you and the surely countless hours of work you invested in writing the material and organizing your website. You are serving our Team and ministry in tremendous ways here in Slovakia. You will be a part in forming and launching our university ministry here.

Thank you, thank you, Jane! I hope you are encouraged by what I shared, but also know how the Lord using you through years of English Clubs is affecting an entirely different Team thousands of miles away.

Chad

Thanks, so much Chad! And thanks to God who organizes our lives and gives us purpose and direction in ways we could not have imagined on our own.

Please check out the new Lifestyle Discussion Guides on the topics of Environmental Sustainability, Social Media, Hero Journey, and soon to come, Simplicity/Minimalism.

In Topics From a Biblical Perspective take a look at The Christian Responsibility Toward the Environment, Biblical Communication, and The Hero Journey of Jesus Christ. Soon to come is a discussion on greed.

By His Grace,

IMG_5625

Jane, with international friends at home, 2017.

Jane Fox

kansasjfox@gmail.com

Race, Gender, Economics

Each semester at Kansas State University, I audit one class that interests me. This means I attend the lectures but do not take the tests, pay the money, or get the credit.  Why do I do this? It is because there is so much to learn and understand.

fullsizeoutput_35d8

Jane and friend welcome students to KSU. “Show us where you are from.”

This semester I am taking Cultural Anthropology. One of the lectures was devoted to communication, and in particular, communication between genders. This is where I was introduced to “genderlects,” a theory suggested by Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The word, “genderlects,” is a combination of the word dialect and gender and as the word suggests, genders communicate in a certain dialect with each other.

Our students at the Conversation Cafe wanted a discussion guide about gender. But where to begin? So, I narrowed it down to the topic of communication between genders. Then I wondered, are Tannen’s findings uniquely American or do people all over the world experience the same phenomenon? If you try this discussion, you will have to let me know what you find. What we experienced was that men and women generally communicated in the same style all over the world. What will you discover?

The lifestyle discussion, “Gender Roles in Communication,” is found under “Lifestyle Topics.” Also, you might be interested in the topic of “Politically Correct Ways of Speaking.” People from all over the world found the American fascination with this subject baffling and amazing.

On the Biblical side, check out the Biblical perspective on gender roles and how Jesus views and values people of different racial and economic backgrounds. The title of these guides is, “Understanding Gender Relationships in the Bible,” and “Jesus Loves People of Every Race, Gender, and Economic Status.”

fullsizeoutput_35d2

This photo of Arnaldo, from Puerto Rico and myself, taken this summer, reminds me, to help our friends who are suffering from hurricane devastation. Let’s be as generous as possible and give to your favorite organization to help families rebuild their homes and lives.

 

Stay In Your Seat!

Recently I listened to a TED Talk by Ann Lamott. In speaking about the work of writing, she suggested that part of the battle to write is to stay in your chair. For me, that means not letting myself be distracted by the lure of going outside to work in my garden.  However, today I decided to stay seated until I accomplished the task of posting new games for my website. Why? Because the new games listed, number 19- 26 are really fun. I hope you try them out.

I should tell you I did not make up these games. No, they came from Hannah, a student/friend of mine from Malaysia. They are games she played with her college friends. I sure am glad she shared them with us.

Are they laughing or crying? The photo has nothing to do with the new games listed. It is a reminder of how much fun people have playing games. fullsizeoutput_316e