Friday, November 30, 2012

November 30, 2012

My reluctance to cook caught up with me last night as I only had some leftover samsis for dinner and then woke up in the middle of the night with terrible hunger pangs. I recalled having brought a pear from Lingua and ate it while looking out the window at the snow continued to pile up on the roofs of cars and buildings.
I had set up the alarm so I could make it in time to the American Pilot School. When I stepped out of my building, I was surprised to find a stout woman removing the snow from the front stoops and walkway. I guessed that must be the same woman tasked with cleaning the staircase and felt very grateful to have such service for a measly sum of 50 soms a month.

On my way to the school, I got a phone call from Natalia notifying me that she couldn’t make it to the afternoon session to deliver the certificates and magazines to the teachers. She had already left them at the university with one of the teachers, and just wanted me to get there a bit earlier so I could sign them.

The fresh snow made it easy to walk to the bus stop and then to the school while stopping along the way to buy a couple of fried snacks for breakfast. Tatjana only had five teachers in her room when I got there and the room was once again just lifeless. Four more teachers eventually showed up  indicating the traffic had been awful due to the amount of snow on the streets. The topic of the day was the interpretation of dreams, but no explanation was given as to why that topic had been chosen or what the aim of the lesson was.

                         Children play in the snow during recess at the American Pilot School

For the second hour, I moved to Zeynep’s classroom and found six teachers engaged in an activity whereby they needed to identity the actions taking place in a piece of text. I sat at one of the computers to create an exit slip for the final session at the Russian Slavonic University and printed the new Bloom’s taxonomy document to give it to the teachers. Zeynep moved on to show them how to conduct a sentence auction but without money. I suggested that she could print fake money from the Internet next time and provide them with “money” to spend.

Tatjana came in asking if I could give her feedback while Zeynep paid the teachers their per diem, but I declined telling her we needed to be in a private place with plenty of time and not rush it just because she was on her way to the Dordoi Bazaar.

Made my way to the Turkish stationery store and bought a stapler, staples, pencils, eraser and other supplies in preparation for the workshop using pictures. Around the corner, they were selling shawarma and I bought one for lunch along with a piece of cake they make that has the exact same texture and flavor as our Dominican cake.

Arrived too early at the university and ate the sandwich in the hallway while waiting for the class to be over. When we were gathered around in a U-shape configuration, I explained we’d have a short lecture on dealing with multi-level classes and then would proceed to deliver the certificates along with the magazines and CDs Natalia had delivered. I really messed up and couldn’t find the longer PowerPoint presentation I had worked so long at just yesterday while at Lingua. I had no choice but to use the shorter one and then make it up by asking the teachers about their own experiences dealing with this situation.

We had the customary photos taken and teachers were reminded of their commitment to allow us to observe at least one of their classes in the near future. I asked that they try and make it before the end of the year even though they said exams were fast approaching in some of their classes. Two of the teachers stayed behind and complained about the lack of resources at the Russian Slavonic University, which is  considered the premier educational institution in the country. They mentioned they have only one set of teacher’s book/CD/student books per level and most pass it from teacher to teacher. They do not have access to the computers or the Internet and must pay for their own photocopying.

I understood where they were coming from and felt deeply disturbed that such a run-down building with such squalid desks and chairs, ancient windows and dark, narrow corridors could be housing the best university in the country. What hope is there for the other ones?

I had major problems trying to get into the marshrutka carrying the additional bag left by Natalia with the remaining magazines and my own purchases. Then it was time to stop at the supermarket to get water, milk and juices and I could barely move. It seemed to have taken forever for me to reach my floor. What a day!

                                       Snowman in front of the supermarket

Decided to forgo my usual distaste for violent movies and watched “The Untouchables” without even realizing that the lead character was going to be played by Kevin Kostner, an actor that looked almost like a dead-ringer for my very Waspish paramour, Michael.

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