When I think back to my elementary years, snippets of faded memories scroll through my mind’s eye. I can vaguely recall bits and pieces of projects we created. I remember being complimented on a trendy outfit one day–I think it consisted of a long pink coat, long skirt, and boots. I had a list –classmates on the “good” list and the “bad list. Most of the boys ended up on the bad list as well as a few mean girls. In the third grade, we created a microcosm of the world. Each Friday we would turn the classroom into our city, with stores, arcades, etc. Class “money,” food and school supplies exchanged hands while we learned about commerce and trade. I remember losing an election to be class secretary by one vote – mine because I thought it would not be right to vote for myself.
In the fourth grade, we made salt sculptures of California and studied the missions. My mission was Santa Barbara, the 10th mission. I remember classmates coming in with intricate projects, little details, and accouterments that no fourth grader could think of on their own. My own project was a poster, roughly pencil drawn on the back of an Asian calendar, with the face of a beautiful Asian actress or model on the back. I remember that the teacher hung up my picture next to the classroom door, against the window, so every day when we lined up after recess, the sideways Asian face stared down at us.
I ended up teaching fourth grade for 4 years and my most loved subject was social studies – California history. I loved seeing the various projects coming in during our California Missions study. Not one student though, brought in a poster drawn on the back of a calendar, but every time I think about the missions I think of a little fourth-grade Asian girl with pigtails and an Asian model forever immortalized on the back of a poster of Mission Santa Barbara.
A few weeks ago, I took a little Day Trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano with some friends. My friend Joe Photo believes in taking time every so often to play so we can remember our passion for photography, so every other month he plans awesome getaways in and around SoCal. Thanks, Joe for the playdate!