Friday, January 25, 2013

January 24, 2013

I went down to the cafeteria at 7:10 am and there was no coffee to be had even though the entire food buffet was already laid out for the guests. The staff said the coffee was coming, but it took a while to get that first cup of coffee into my system. Irvin and David laughed at my addiction while talking about their own: to cigarette and chewing tobacco although David had quit years ago.

My morning was brightened when I got to see Aziza, from the Multikid NGO in Dushanbe, and two other Tajik Access teachers. We did the customary three kisses on the cheeks greeting and spoke for a few minutes before they chose another table for themselves. I promised to bring Aziza the package that Caroline had sent her to the training room.

I sat with a succession of ELFs as they made their way into the restaurant and got to agreed with Valerie that she’d take me to the Ramstor Store Friday night so I could buy a few grocery items for myself and the chocolate chip cookies I’ll need for my presentation on Saturday.

During my first presentation today, I spoke about the state of teacher training in Kyrgyzstan and we got into a heated discussion as to how we could break the resistance of the teachers to innovate, become more flexible and transfer some control to their students. The gist of it was how to allow the teacher to save face while still making room for their students to make decisions on how to learn the language instead of dictating every aspect of it.

Lunch was offered in a more elegant part of the hotel and we were treated to fish and a tasty soup among other dishes. I had another presentation in the afternoon to fill in the EFLs about the upcoming CATEC 2013. We had the usual mix of boring and riveting presentations, one of them given by the librarian at the American Embassy that is in charge of ordering all the materials for the American Corners in Central Asia. I had nothing to say about it since I haven’t done any close work with any American Corner so far.

One presenter, Chris, who is posted in Tajikistan, spoke about doing something called “Sideline Coaching” whereby he co-teaches with a colleague and intervenes at appropriate times when he feels the lesson being taught by his colleague is about to take a nosedive. He’d brought video clips to demonstrate his strategies and gave me some ideas as to how I conduct observations in a more positive setting. I need to do more research on this area for sure.

Larissa, originally from Ukraine, but currently residing in Tampa, FL, asked me to exchange some of my files with her at seven and then we agreed to go and have a bite to eat. I was surprised to walk into her room, officially marked as a non-smoking one, and find an ashtray filled with cigarette stubs.

The rest of the EFLs decided to take a tour of the tower I visited last summer and then go to a club, I declined and with Larissa just walked a few blocks to find a cafeteria offering the usual fare of over boiled meats and bland side dishes. I ordered a salad, mashed potatoes and beef chunks with overcooked vegetables.

We walked back while Larissa talked about getting her doctorate from one of those diploma mills online, Capella University. She never mentioned having any experience actually teaching, so I’ll reserve my judgment for now. She seems extremely proud of her title and likes to introduce herself as" doctor so and so" at every chance. Such practice tends to grate on my nerves after a little while.

I continued to read the book on Genghis Khan until I fell asleep.

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