Bailando-ing across Cuba: Summer 2017

Narcos on NetflixWeirdly enough, it started towards the end of a pretty intense Narcos binge. “Lisa, we should go to Colombia! Wouldn’t you want to visit Medellin? Check out Pablo Escobar’s old stomping grounds?” We were looking for a place to visit as a follow-up to our epic trip to Iceland, and by all accounts, Colombia’s a beautiful and fascinating country to visit. Maybe this was “the chosen one”.

So I fired up the old KAYAK Explore website and started plugging in flight information from our nearby SFO, and lo and behold, round trip flights looked like they’d only be $400-ish. Not bad, but hey, nearby Panama was even cheaper, at around $300 or so.

And then my heart. Because right above the largest island in the Caribbean was a surprisingly low number. For a not-horrible-amount-of-money, I could cross off my #1 travel bucket list location: Havana, Cuba.

Lisa was awesome about giving the green light, and yada yada yada, hours after President 45 informed Americans that he’d be “canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba“, Lisa and I boarded a flight for a week of exploring Havana and Trinidad, Cuba.

Oh, yeah, and we filmed it again.

What Inspires Me: Louis CK

***Warning: The below video has some NSFW language, but I believe its big thesis makes it well worth it.***

Louis CK is one of my favorite comedians of all time. He’s brilliant, uncouth, controversial, and incredibly inventive. That last quality in particular was one that I grew to appreciate after watching the above video. Louis has taken a cue from the great George Carlin in not just reusing stand-up material from year-to-year, but in totally reinventing his act every year. He’s constantly starting from square one, not only resting on the laurels of his previous stand up specials and performances.

For some reason, stand-up comedians absolutely inspire me, especially as a teacher 1, who, to some extent, is a daily “performer” 2. From year-to-year, it makes sense that I’d keep my curriculum the same or hone it down to the best possible iteration of it, but Louis inspires me to keep it fresh, both to myself and to my students. From my last years in Taiwan, where thing became so repetitive that I hardly had to prep for each class, I’ve had to find ways to twist what I do, and I think taking a cue from this brilliant funny-man can/will help me better reach all my students.


  1. I’m SUCH a planner person—I’m absolutely averse to being impulsive or off-the-cuff at all—so seeing someone who appears to be just casually having a monologue (but clearly has rehearsed what they’re saying) is absolutely enthralling to me.
  2. I know that it’s constantly preached to put the students first, not the teacher, which I totally agree with, but one of my strength of my own teaching is me and my own personality which I use to hype up and direct my students.
Tagged , , ,

Insanity: applying to GTA again and expecting a new result

I never said what happened with Google Teacher Academy Sydney.

If you remember, I had a pretty low self-esteem February, with a miniature breakdown where I expressed how alone I felt, professionally. To fight this, I decided to apply to the Google Teacher Academy being held in Australia. I put in hours and hours of writing a poem, recording audio (in one take), and building a concept for a kinetic typography video. Here was the response:

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 9.41.44 PM

I was pretty crushed. I don’t know why—of the hundred, and probably thousands, who apply, they only let in 50, and I don’t know that I have the kind of credentials that Google is looking for , so it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Also, it would have been a bit of a logistical nightmare—I’d have to leave my students, plan for subs, pay for my own travel, and leave my wife for a couple of days.

Maybe, then it was for the best. Maybe going to GTA Sydney was not what God had for me. Maybe I was too focused on gaining glory in the eyes of man, and not serving my God #1. Maybe attending was not what was right for me at the time.

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

Colossians 3:23-25

After taking some time to reflect, I finally felt peace about not being selected for Google Teacher Academy Sydney. And armed with my new lesson, I decided I was done with GTA.

Then I saw this:


Here’s why this was a big deal:

  • I live in Taiwan all year long; however, when I fly back to the US, it’ll be to my wife’s house in Indianapolis.
  • Indianapolis is approximately 3 hours away from Chicago.
  • The only month I’ll be in the States this year will be July; however, I won’t be in Indy the entire time. In the middle of July, we’ll be going to Kansas and Nebraska to see my family. From Omaha, we’ll be heading back to Indianapolis around the 22nd of July.

I’m scared to say “it’s meant to be”, because if when I don’t get in, I don’t want to be crushed, but the circumstances were so perfect, it’s like GTA Chicago was personally inviting me to try one last time.

SO… 50ish more hours of video-creation later…

This is my last time applying, and I am 100% ok with that. If I get in, praises to Jesus. If I don’t, may I always remember to stay humble and keep my students #1, above everything!

Tagged ,

“You gotta fight… for your right…”

A few days ago, I had a bit of a breakdown on my Twitter account:

Sadly, no responses to any of my “cries for help.” Maybe I was just lonely because my wife was in the States with family, and maybe it was just one of those low-self-esteem days, but at some point, I realized that if I wanted to get myself to where I want to me, I’d have to do something about it.

So do something I did. After >50 hours of writing a poem, recording audio (in one take), and building a concept for a kinetic typography video, THIS happened:

GTASYDIt’s a professional life goal to one day attend one of these Google Teacher Academy things. I’ve applied a couple of times in the past, but I didn’t have enough time to put in a lot of effort into a video, and, frankly, I didn’t realize how involved some of these videos can be. The entire process isn’t based upon a 60-second clip, either—there’s an application I had to fill out with information about me, my education, my awards, and so on. But, as I stated earlier, it’s not like I have a lot of experience on paper, so I felt a lot of extra pressure to pour more into the video.

Google decides right around my birthday, in a couple of weeks, which 50 teachers get to attend, and I’m hoping (but not expecting) to hear some good news. Wish me luck!

Tagged ,
%d bloggers like this: