Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3, 2012

It was almost impossible to glimpse a piece of blue sky this morning as everyone in Bishkek seemed to be engaged in the process of burning all the autumn leaves accumulated over the last couple of weeks. I walked to the Kyrgyzstan National University to observe Nargiza’s class and could barely breathe for all the fires burning around me. Once I got there, she asked to step into the chairman of the Foreign Languages School and introduced me to him. Her class wasn’t in that building and we needed to board a marshrutka to get there in a flash.

We arrived at a building under remodeling whose front entrance had been barricaded with bricks and we had to walk toward the rear entrance and through iron grill security doors before reaching a tiny cheerless classroom with barely four benches and a small blackboard shiny from years of erasures. She only had six students to start, all females, and no audio/visual equipment of any kind except for her own laptop to play the CD accompanying the textbook.

When Nargiza attempted to get the students to do pair work, it was obvious they had never done any and were puzzled by the idea of having to switch seats with their classmates and work together for an answer. I gave her points for trying this out while I was present. Three more students showed up and she scolded them in front of the others. With 25 minutes left in the class, she abruptly asked me to talk to the students and answer any questions they might have, but I had no intention of talking about me for so long and just had them do an activity where they wrote three adjectives about themselves, put them in a bag and then tried to guess who wrote each piece. They were happy, and we were able to leave on time for her next class back at the Chinese Language Institute.

Nargiza only had two students for this class and just gave them a task to do while I gave her feedback on her previous lessons. She is a very conscientious teacher and thus wrote down all my recommendations while acknowledging such as things as talking too much, not allowing enough wait time for students to answer and completing the students’ sentences before they had a chance to finish.

I had to get to Lingua for my conversation class, and Nargiza helped negotiate the price with a taxi driver who actually had a meter in his car. I got to Lingua with only five minutes to spare and a very hungry stomach. Zarina gave me a couple of biscuits and proceeded to copy the handouts for the class. There were sixteen students this time with many new faces among the old faithful. I had them do the “We both….” icebreaker and then summarized the findings on the board.

Next, they had a chance to work with a partner in answering questions about adolescent behavior in Kyrgyzstan. We only had time to tackle the first three questions and I reminded them to bring it back in two weeks so we could finish the topic properly. In the meantime, Nazira sent me a text message notifying me she was not able to make it for our coffee appointment, and I can’t say I was disappointed for I was in need of a proper meal and some rest.

Before going home, I stopped at the grocery store and bought my usual: water, juice and milk and heated up my leftover Chinese food for a delicious repast. I even had a piece of apple pie baked by Larissa and then a cup of coffee.

Elvira called to say she’d be coming by at ten on Sunday. I have no plans to go anywhere as it’s expected to be raining all day. I decided to color my hair today and was shocked to find that the towel holder was very hot and couldn’t believe that the heating system could have been kicked off on a day when the temperature had reached almost 70 degrees. I walked to the three other radiator units in the flat and found all of them were on. I had my windows open and an acrid smell was pouring in from the smoke, so I closed them.

I was aghast to discover that both my flash drive and portable hard drive had been infected by a virus probably for taking them to other people’s computers. I spent the evening reading up on Google on how to get rid of the virus and recover my files since I’d have been distraught to find out they were forever gone. The instructions were lengthy and since I don’t have a printer at hand, difficult to follow. I’ll talk to Judson on Monday on ways to remedy the situation and prevent it from happening again.

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