Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October 1, 2012

Brilliant sunshine was streaming through the windows when I got up this morning. While making my coffee, I peered into the courtyard and saw people walking around all bundled up in jackets and coats as if winter had arrived overnight. I cautiously opened the window, but didn't feel the blast of cold air I was expecting and turned to admiring the view of the mountains while sipping my coffee slowly. Not having access to the Internet meant I had no idea what the temperature was outside.

Natalia was picking me up at 9:15, so there was not time to waste as did the dishes and picked up my bedroom in anticipation of her coming up to see the apartment and also to deliver a box of books for my teaching assignments. She gave the flat her seal of approval, and we quickly went back to the car so we could get to our meeting with the people at the American Councils where I met Daniel, from Colorado, who’s filling temporarily until Rebecca gets here in November, and another Gulnara, the coordinator for the Tot (Training of the Teachers) and responsible for the Access programs in the outskirts of Bishkek.

We basically agreed to my participation in any teacher training taking place in the southern part of the country, where the need is most dire) and to collaborate with the summer camps when that time rolls around.
Daniel sounded skeptical about my work with the Forum association as they have been known to waste lots of resources and produce very little results. I told him I was going in with an open mind and hopeful that we could see some improvements by the end of next year.

As we were on our way to the American Pilot School for our next meeting, I mentioned to Natalia that I wanted to start my Russian lessons and the London School was the place everybody had recommended. By coincidence, those two places were very close to each other and she offered to take me to the London School first where I was told they don’t hold any group classes and that the individual classes were already full for the month of October. I offered to join another student’s class if possible just so I could start right away. The coordinator took my name and telephone number and promised to call in case something turned up.

The American Pilot School operates out of a 1950s building that must have been remodeled at some point and now sported a light green aluminum skin over its former concrete walls. We met Tatyana in the American Resource Center, a room full of computers, books and teaching materials that is available to all English teachers at the gymnasium. I was invited to take part, as an observer, in the first training session for teachers from the suburbs of Bishkek most of whom don’t speak English at all. Natalia and Johanna, the PAO, will also be present. I agreed to return on Monday to do a lesson on Columbus Day for a combined class of about 40 students.

I took a marshrutka to go Lingua School and got Zarina to call the Internet provider and find out what went wrong on Sunday. She was told I still had money on the account and should just turn the router on and off to reconnect, something I had done numerous times on Sunday to no avail. I also asked her to contact another cable provider to see if I could get a better lineup of English channels to watch. When I spoke to Mat about these issues, he told me he didn't bother with cable TV as he watched everything he wanted on his laptop and has lightning fast Internet access with a different company.

Zarina and I went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant, or so referred to by her and other customers, where we were served the vegetable fried rice with only green peas and fried egg before they even brought us any eating utensils. The spicy fried beef I ordered was tough and spicy to the point of being inedible as they had added tons of red peppers to the dish, but nothing else. Her sweet and sour lamb was just chunks of breaded meat in a sauce tasting only of ketchup. Zarina ordered bread, something I found unusual in a Chinese place, but what we got was the sweet bun I’m used to eating as a street snack. I told Zarina I’d take the leftover meat back home to make a decent sauce for it and add vegetables to rescue it.

I went back to the house, tried the suggested remedy for the Internet connection and it worked like a charm. I spent the rest of my evening happily typing away while catching up on all the messages I had missed since Saturday. Natalia sent me message notifying me I was expected for my first observation at the American Pilot School tomorrow at two. I was also expected at the Kyrgyz National University for another observation on Friday at the same time. I’m going to be one busy person this week.

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