Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Before we left, it was under a million views but now it is nearing two million views. Enjoy this Passover story by current technology! The fact that I can upload these sentences from the Tainan teachers hostel in Tainan, Taiwan on the internet and you can see it instantly is truly 21st century. We spent the day at the An Ping Fort that was built in the 16th century by the Dutch and spoke with 5th graders who are learning English in their schools here.
Our first week in Taiwan has been full of adventures. We will share all the stories and videos after our return next week. I hope that your Passover celebrations are filled with family, friends and freedom from your personal enslavements.
12.3.13 at 8:16 am | You can't drive here; you can't boat here; you. . .
11.16.13 at 4:27 pm | During our tour of Palawan, we saw crocodiles,. . .
11.12.13 at 4:14 pm | At American Jewish University's retreat center,. . .
11.6.13 at 7:57 am | Why do we blame TEACHERS for all the issues in. . .
10.10.13 at 5:33 pm | October 16, 7pm, Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel. . .
9.17.13 at 4:04 am | We are looking for an article about a place you. . .
12.3.13 at 8:16 am | You can't drive here; you can't boat here; you. . . (32)
4.10.11 at 12:01 pm | Amazing New Year's Eve celebration in Cartagena,. . . (20)
12.1.11 at 6:55 pm | My photo on MSN.com TODAY! (14)
April 16, 2011 | 9:43 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
April 22 is Earth Day. What will you do to celebrate our planet? With so many options out there, what will you choose? With snowfall last month in the San Fernando Valley for the first time in nearly fifty years, major earthquakes in Japan, Christchurch, New Zealand, Santiago, Chile and Haiti in the last year, and other environmental issues like the enormous volcanic eruption of Iceland, everyone is talking about our planet.
But you don’t even have to leave your couch to get involved. You can help “Santa Monica Bay Keepers” with our new Marine Protected Areas by “sending Governor Brown this letter to voice your support for the creation of protected areas to safeguard our underwater Yosemites for generations to come.” (from CalOceans.org)
Learn from Jewish World Watch about how our use of conflict minerals impacts the Congo. Pledge to purchase conflict free products for your computer, phone and electronic needs to help our planet and all its people.
Don’t forget to recycle your trash, especially cans and bottles. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth; turn off the lights when you leave a room. Fix any leaky faucets right away! These simple actions can make a big difference to our planet.
Find more photos like this on EveryJew.com
Some of my favorite links that I use in my science classroom are also great for adults or kids. Use these links to act like a secret agent and learn to save our planet! Help Green Power Girl and the Green Power Heroes sent from Mother Nature to empower humans with clean green power. Join GPG, Jah Wind Power, Marina Del Ray, Mercury Man and Buddy Biomass as they battle the Fossil fools! You can also help our Earth by learning more about plants in the Great Plant Escape!
When I think about teaching science and what is important I focus on major issues and connecting the subject to something in the lives of children. To quote Educational Quality Concepts:
“The whole point [of teaching science] is to teach problem-solving, to teach critical thinking. These are not things peculiar to science; they are things peculiar to life. And if a child becomes both literate and has a high ability to solve problems in an everyday situation…then there’s no limitation on what the child will be able to do in later life.”
When we studied rocks and minerals in the Fourth Grade, we learned about the Conflict Mineral Trade Act and Pledge to help the people of the Congo. We also wrote to President Obama and he even wrote back!
I hope that you make a connection to Earth Day and to help our planet. We can help our Earth and we each can make a difference.
Heal The Bay Events:
*April 16, Beach Cleanups (10am to noon) Will Rogers State Beach and Torrance Beach
*April 16-17, Santa Monica Pier Aquarium Earth Weekend
*April 30, L.A. River Cleanup
Santa Monica Bay Keepers Events:
*April 23rd, Cabrillo Earth Day Festival, All Day Tabling With Other Non-Profits And Causes.
*April 30th, LA River Cleanup
Lisa Niver Rajna, M.A. Ed. has over 12 years of classroom teaching experience and an additional 11 years working in camps and on cruise ships. Please join us this summer for Simply Science Camp!
April 13, 2011 | 9:29 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
George often says, “You don’t know until you go,” which has led us not only to travel overland in Sumbawa, Indonesia (because he wanted to know why there was not much about it in the guidebook), but also to the incredible group of islands where we got engaged!
Are you ready to realize your travel dreams?
• MEET inspirational speakers and like-minded travelers in their area.
• Find the motivation, contacts and resources necessary to PLAN the trip of a lifetime.
• And start taking concrete steps forward to get ready to GO!
On October 18, 2011, in 17 cities across North America, you can learn more about career breaks and extended travel. Despite being common in many countries such as Australia and the UK, career breaks, life sabbaticals, “gap years” and time-spans used to facilitate extended travel, don’t seem to be an American or Canadian birthright…but the Founders of Meet, Plan, Go! are now on a mission to change that!
Every event will feature individuals whom have fulfilled their own dreams of traveling around the world and who appreciate the unbelievable triumphs of realizing one’s dreams through long-term international adventure. Their real-life stories include an understanding of the challenges that long-term travelers must overcome in order to claim their freedom on the road.
Read the New York Times article about last year’s event to learn more!
The incredible resources of Meet Plan Go are available to you right now!
• Follow MeetPlanGo! on Facebook
• Sign up for the helpful Career Break Newsletter which will keep you up to date on the latest Meet Plan Go! news, events, and announcements.
• Meet all of the hosts - some of the best career break and extended travel veterans around the country!
Quotes about last year’s event:
“This was a fantastic event! It made me realize that long-term travel is a completely realistic goal and that I have much amazing company also doing the same.” – Seattle Attendee
“Your event convinced me that my pipe dream of traveling was actually possible… and then gave me tips and tricks on how to accomplish it.” – NYC Attendee
“After this event the excitement for traveling was high for everyone. The panelists were helpful, gave excellent examples of things to do and not do, plus lots of encouragement. Everyone with this dream should go to see how it is possible.” – Chicago Attendee
“I liked the breadth of experience. Some panelists were younger twenty-somethings, some were older with families. They made it clear there was no one right way to do it.” – Boston Attendee
“I loved this event! It helped reassure me that I wasn’t crazy about thinking about quitting my job to hit the road, and it connected me with many other like-minded travelers.” – Orlando Attendee
“I loved the presenters. I was so impressed with their generosity to share their experiences. It was such a good evening for me and my partner.” – Toronto Attendee
“A life-inspiring event - covering an amazing amount of relevant material. I would definitely attend another and another until I “go!”” – San Francisco Attendee
April 10, 2011 | 12:01 pm
Posted George Rajna
My wife Lisa and I had already had already spent a few days in Cartagena and a couple of weeks in Colombia, all the while awaiting New Year’s Eve. Since we’d had a very disappointing New Years celebration a few years back in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, we were ready for a true party but were skeptical. Old San Juan is lovely as is the setting but if you have visions of Ricky Martin and thousands of others filling the streets to dance the night away, let it be known that New Year’s parties either occur in the high- rise hotels (with a stiff admission price) or the Puertoriquenos simply stay home to dine with their families. We heard rumors that gunshots and/or aspects of their culture led to a dull scene.
For whatever the reason, the city was dead. I mean, we had an 8:00 p.m. dinner reservation at a moderately posh restaurant. We showed up a few minutes late and the staff looked at their watches like, “Okay buddy, we’ll try and squeeze you in before we close.” After a quick albeit tasty dinner, we hit the streets seeking a happening location. Hours later we were disappointed and somewhat shocked that we could not find one. Even the salsa clubs that are normally a good time were bolted shut.
Hence our skepticism as we tried to determine what would transpire in “old town” Cartagena. We queried many people to find out how things might pan out and we received as many answers as the questions we asked—all varied, lacking enough consistency to draw a firm conclusion. What ever would happen would eventually transpire but we had no method to figure it out.
Find more photos like this on EveryJew.com
Four of us, including a Belgium couple, Yves and Mika, headed into Cartagena after spending an entire day hiking and swimming in the gorgeous Parque Nacional Tayrona. We finally arrived at Hotel Santa Cruz in central Cartagena around 2:30 a.m. the night before New Year’s, planning to sleep in and take it easy the next day as we approached the Eve.
We began the festivities by having dinner at a nondescript Indian restaurant in the Getsanami area, a soon-to-be-trendy location between the old town and Castillo de San Felipe. Our meal was authentic and tasty. After dinner we hopped into a taxi and headed toward El Laguito to the Cristobol Colon edifício, a location where couch surfers—a volunteer-based worldwide network connecting travelers with members of local communities, who offer free accommodation and/or advice—would meet prior to heading out for the night.
At first I thought we were out of luck. We entered the building, walked toward the rear swimming pool deck and found absolutely no one. We reentered the building and the concierge took one look and stated that we should take the elevator to the 11th floor.
There we found about 60 people crowded into a large one-bedroom apartment drinking and socializing. All were friendly. We immediately were taken in by these strangers, these couch surfers, who were from a variety of countries including Colombia. I was surprised to learn that roughly one-tenth of these couch surfers were from the United States. After all, Colombia still has the tarnished reputation as a chaotic country ruled by drug lords running amok, with personal safety ensured only by luck or a high kidnapping insurance premium. Nothing could be further from the truth; Colombians are a proud, friendly people and several joined this international crowd of Americans, Canadians, Italians, Russians, Brazilians, Spanish, French, Chileans, Argentineans, and Germans. There was also a Bolivian couple, the woman was very pregnant and said, “We are parents who party!” while drinking sprite! Everyone was multinational; the Bolivian couple was working in Colombia for a German company, the Italian woman lived in Brussels and was on a long-term adventure in South America.
After socializing we were all told to pay $27 per person for the night’s entertainment and to then head downstairs where La Chiva, an open-air bus with long padded benches, would be this special New Year’s Eve transport.
Toward the rear of the bus, a four-piece band played local salsa music, blaring out favorites written by musicians such as Joe Arroyo. We all festively boarded and within minutes made our first stop of the night, the all-important stop to get rum, coke, ice and buckets. Every row of seats on La Chiva had at least one bottle of rum.
As we drove around the city, our emcee on the mic kept us all active. He would yell in a request, “Who is from Brazil?” After the Brazilians cheered he went on like this, country by country, until everyone had a chance to respond. Then he asked, “All the men in the first bench, stand up and shake your asses like this,” as he swiveled his hips in demonstration. He went on row-by-row and requested – to the approbation of the crowd - that the women do the same thing. He also pointed out sights of interest as we passed through the city.
The band was also active, adding to the amazing atmosphere. After some drinking we stopped outside the Castillo de San Felipe for drinks and dancing. The night was warm and the fortress was very prettily bathed in lights. Lisa and I danced; her blue eyes alight, her long brown hair hanging to her waist. We swayed to the rhythm of the band; performing salsa moves we had learned back in Los Angeles for our wedding.
We once again boarded La Chiva and went to a salsa dance club that was ironically named “Long Beach” (Having traveled to another continent it was funny to go to a club named after a city close to home). The club permitted us to bring in our drinks and we danced while strobes and dotted flashes of light fluttered through the crowd. After a while, about half of the couch surfers wanted to leave. The others remained at the club, at least for a while, but Lisa and I chose to depart and walk toward the old town. I had heard that it would be crowded but I could not believe the masses of people that were everywhere. And I mean everywhere.
Three elevated bandstands with live bands pumped out fine salsa while patrons enjoyed great outdoor dining and drinking. People occupied every free space and in certain sections we experienced difficultly in navigating the crowd. Winding through the throngs felt like a rebirth, akin to entering the world on a completely different level. Lisa and I loved the grand party atmosphere but Mika was nearly in tears. She had left the previous dance bar without Yves and had lost him.
Another fun American of Indian descent, Kirthi, had also misplaced his friends and popped a bottle of champagne for us to enjoy as the countdown to the New Year began. We also drank mojitos, poured by vendors who lined the crowded streets, while we watched fuegos artificiales shoot and explode over the beautiful colonial architecture of the old town. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six….A great new year was about to commence, if our opening celebration was any indication.
We roamed and meandered around the cobble-stoned streets with our couchsurfing friends for over an hour. Eventually Kirthi found his group of friends and the next day we discovered that Yves and Mika each returned to their hotel independently where they found each other. As for us, Lisa and I completed the evening by consuming excellent mojitos and danced at Café Bazurto, a small bar-club located just outside the city walls. Cartagena was simply stunning. We completed our stay the next day with Mika and Yves. After having lunch at Luna Nueva in Getsemani , we wandered to El Laguito Beach Club to relax, watch windsurfers and view a wonderful sunset. Since our return to the United States, Lisa has already asked, “When are we heading back to Cartagena? Then she stated, “I could live there!” and maybe we will.
April 7, 2011 | 12:56 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna