Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26, 2013

I always get all stressed out when I am expected to present in front of my peers and last night was no exception. I woke up at three in the morning and had a hard time falling back asleep. I was up by five and had to mix the little packet of 3-in-1 coffee in the lukewarm water coming out of the faucet to sustain me until I could get to the cafeteria at seven.

Sat with Irvin again and ate my breakfast quickly as I needed to set up the tables in the conference room in a different configuration. I stopped at the front desk and asked to borrow a pair of scissors and for some scrap paper. The front desk clerk had never heard of any of those terms and needed clarification. She did give me some paper plates for the cookies.

While Sarah was doing her presentation, I realized I didn’t have a warm up for mine and hastily put one together. Irvin and David helped me pass out the handouts and placed the cookies on each table. I only had one hour to talk about a new subject and have the audience practice using it for two different activities. I think I spoke too fast and put too much pressure for them to move from one part of the activity to another. I wasn’t happy with the presentation at all. I’m glad Jennifer wasn’t present to observe me.

Lunch was pretty good with fish, lentil soup and some salads among the offerings. We then went back to listen to Larissa, but most of us were having a hard time doing this as she lectured straight from her PowerPoint until perhaps the last ten minutes of the hour. I signaled to her that only five were left but she kept going on asking participants to contribute their ideas.

Irvin presented next, and I was impressed with his use of Norman Rockwell paintings to illicit students’ responses. I asked him if I could use it in Bishkek during one of Forum’s sessions. He seemed noncommittal, so we’ll see what happens in the future.

Holly had prepared a session to teach line dancing and it went very well. I had to take off my clogs to be able to participate and it was a lot of fun even though the room was all too small to hold such a big crowd. It turned out to be a good stress reliever for sure

We were given a break to get ourselves together before heading to a Kazakh restaurant where we’d be treated to a banquet of local dishes, music and dance. We boarded the buses a half past six and were taken to a fancy restaurant very close to where we had been the night before

The restaurant offered us everything the kitchen could prepare: samsis, manti, a variety of salads, bread, plov, shish kebabs, and two different desserts along with water and compote. After eating some of the salads, a chunk of bread and a bit of plov, I was completely satiated.

Secretly, Rich and Toni had managed to buy a nice card and a bouquet of flowers to offer it to Jennifer as a sign of our appreciation. We sang for her and everyone vied to take a photo of her holding the flowers and souvenir they had also given her. We spent a long time thereafter having a group photo taken as almost everyone had brought a camera and wanted a shot of the moment.

The entertainment never materialized, but a DJ started to play and little by little we moved into the dance floor. This time, I did get him to play two songs from my flashdrive, but it took some doing. The Tajiks had better luck as their music is better known around here.

When most of us boarded the buses to return to the hotel, around 9:30, Chris came up to announce that a group of them was going to a bar nearby that offered music in case anybody else wanted to join them. No one accepted the offer and we left. I was glad the day was over and we only have half a day tomorrow. Except for helping out with the coordinators’ session, I have no other obligation so to speak.

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