Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27, 2012

Either Google’s weather satellites are emitting wrong data, which seems farfetched, or I’m getting very comfortable with the temperatures around here, which would be laughable for someone coming from the Caribbean, but it felt relatively balmy yesterday. I wore my fleece sweatshirt under my coat and had no need for gloves or hat as I made my way to the American University of Central Asia to meet with Elvira.

We had agreed to meet in front of the two guards posted in the Ala Too Square, who look like mummies in glass vitrines, and walk from there to her office. I didn’t realize there were other government buildings and parks right behind Chuy Avenue and need to go back on my own and take some photos. The AUCA occupies a former government building in the typical gray concrete bunker style that the Russians favored and once inside I found the usual warren of small dark rooms, narrow hallways and lifeless atmosphere prevalent in these buildings.

I met Alex, an American working for the university who told me a new campus is being built in the suburbs to accommodate the growth of the university, but that it might take 3-4 years before they actually moved into it. Elvira shares her office with at least five other colleagues and we were lucky to have just one other woman present when I showed up. She didn’t acknowledge our presence and Elvira didn’t introduce me.

We sat down to write a proposal letter to the embassy that would allow the Forum Association to adapt English language textbooks for Kyrgyz students from 4-7 grades. Elvira felt the organization had little chance of obtaining this grant as Lingua might also be competing for the grant and they had more experience and resources to carry out the project, but she wanted to have a shot at it anyway.

We went downstairs to the crowded cafeteria where most of the hot dishes were already gone by 12:30 and only a runny soup and samsis were on sale. When I heard we could order lagman, I went for that instead and bought some samsis to have for dinner. There were no tables available in the hallway outside the cafeteria and we waited for a group to depart so we could take over their table.

Elvira accompanied me to the bus stop so I could hop on a marshrutka and head to the Russian Slavonic University and somehow got to talking about relationships. She thought that I had an ongoing relationship with Ryan! I told her that he was flamboyantly gay, not my type and way to young anyway.

The session on grammar games went quite well; however, it became quite obvious that most teachers do not include games as part of their lessons and they felt very awkward about trying out the different games, too afraid of making any mistakes in front of their colleagues. It’s a shame that this group of teachers is so overly concerned about keeping up appearances instead of acquiring new activities their students might actually enjoy doing.
Anna came by at the end of the presentation and asked how it went. The exit slips confirmed they had enjoyed the presentation and a few said they would be putting some of the games into practice, but it was almost pathetic to see that they didn’t even know how to play “Concentration” and found the rules too complex, so some of them said it had not being enjoyable.

I was able to shed my coat and just wear my sweatshirt on the way home and took a nap as soon as I walked into my flat. I couldn’t believe how tired I felt. The hotel in Almity wrote requesting my credit card information and I sent it to them. My RELO also wrote requesting confirmation that my reservation had been completed.

I watched a great movie, “The Lincoln Lawyer”, one that I had never heard of, but which was immensely enjoyable following in the long line of courtroom dramas and detective stories placed in L.A. There was great acting on everybody’s part, a look at the gritty parts of the city, and the best part, Marissa Tomey in it.

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