Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 23, 2013

The restaurant for the hotel was located on the ground floor and the tile floor made it a rather chilly place. David and Annah were already there at a little past seven and I joined them to drink the abominable instant coffee served from a regular urn. Breakfast was a buffet affair offering everything from cereal to soup to fried rice, and scrambled eggs that had been mislabeled as “omelet”.

I spied a baguette nearby and made myself a sandwich with picked fish and cheese along with a boiled egg and some kind of juice. Other ELFs joined our table and the proper introductions took place with each one of us indicating whether this was our first or second tour; just as soldiers would speak of their posts.

Our sessions started promptly at nine with the Kazakhstan ELFs in charge of the warm up activity. We got into group of three to discuss what some of our challenges were and to post them on the wall for discussion at some point. My challenge was how to get teachers to teach English in the medium of English when their own fluency level was so low.

David and Valerie gave interesting and relevant presentations on creating a support group for pre-service teachers and teaching graphic novels to teenagers. Lunch was another buffet and I was hardly hungry at that point, so I just had a sample of salads and a bowl of soup. Toni, who is posted to Turkmenistan, invited me to go along for a walk to stay awake subsequently. The weather was remarkably warm albeit somewhat windy, but it was pleasant to walk after sitting for so many hours.

Presentations continued until five with only a respite for a coffee break. We had to schedule our one-on-one session with our RELO at twenty minute intervals and mine was set up for seven o’clock. I went back to my room to relax for a bit and didn’t make any attempt to join the others for a Kazakh dancing lesson to be provided by Holly.

My conversation with the RELO revolved around my activities in Bishkek and her upcoming trip to meet with everyone working with me. I really didn’t have any burning questions, complaints or advice to seek this time, so we ended the conversation with each one of us heading in different directions for our meals.

The dining room reeked of smoke at that time, so I went to the bakery around the corner and bought a couple of snacks, water and juice to eat in my room. 

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