I had a very short substitute teaching job this afternoon. It was an intermediate ELD (English Language Development) class and it was truly global.
There was a girl Fatima and her cousin Nour who were from Syria. Three boys from the Phillipines. A girl from Afghanistan and another girl from Mongolia. One boy names Elvis (!) was from Bosnia. A Vietnamese boy and two other boys from China. Next semester my Thai student Paer will be in this class and also a really fun boy named Soo from South Korea will attend as well.
I had asked the Filipino boys if they had any family back in the Phillipines and if they were OK from that Typhoon Durian that slammed into the islands last week. They were surprised I knew about that. All their families were OK. I asked Fatima from Syria if she was from Damascas and she seemed surprised I knew the capital of her home country. I asked how long she had been in the US and she had said she arrived in June. I asked her if that was before or after the recent Lebanese/Israeli conflict and she said she arrived to the US only a week before that had begun. I looked on a map and saw just how close Damascus is to Beirut. It's much closer than I had thought - I had thought Damascus was much further north.
These kids must not have many people who ask them about their countries of origin, much less know anything going on newswise. Anyway, they were a delight and Fatima asked when I was going to come back again. I hope soon, and I wrote to their teacher telling her I would love to sub for her in the future. :)
Also, when I lived in Bangkok, I saw many Etheopians and from my time eating in their restaurants both in Bangkok and in San Francisco. They have extremely beautiful features and you can see in them the ethnic mix from the influences of North African Arab cultures. I don't know how to describe it, but they have a look that I can identify. I had asked a girl who was a TA in one of the classes if she was Etheopian and she looked so surprised, but said Eritrea. I'd never even heard of that country but after looking on a globe, sure enough, it was right next to Etheopia. I guess it was a province of Etheopia until its independence in 1991. I can't get too cocky, though, because another girl, a bit of a troublemaker in another class, told me something about her home country and I asked where she was from and she, too, said Eritrea. I would have never guessed that! She MAYBE looks like she could be Middle Eastern or Persian, or even Mediterranean....
I have to say that this school I'm subbing for most the time is quite an interesting place and I get my culture fix every week. :) :)