Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February 12, 2013

As I approached the American University of Central Asia to do the second observation of Elvira’s class, I realized I had left my cell phone on my bed and had no way of letting her know I was downstairs waiting for her. This university has a strict security system thus without an ID or someone to escort in, there is no way to gain entrance. I mentioned Elvira’s name to the security guard, but he didn’t recognize it and even when he called the Department of Foreign Languages, they still acted as if they didn’t know who she was.

I was allowed to go up to the third floor where a man pointed to a schedule and to the right classroom. She was teaching in a different one this time, one with a computer, projector and screen, but still a small one with no room to move around. When an interactive activity was set up, not all students were willing to participate and remained in their seats until specifically being told to get up and talk to other students. I still couldn’t see the point of the lesson and no lesson plan was ever submitted for my benefit.

Once the lesson was over and we were walking toward the bank to get my new Visa card, I gave her some pointers on the lesson including reminding her that many of the words she was using had the stress placed on the wrong syllable and that as a role model for her students’ pronunciation, she needed to do better on that front. She confessed she never watches TV in English, doesn’t have any channels, nor to the radio and rarely to anything online.

The bank had my card ready and informed me they would charge the cool sum of $150.00 to cash a personal check because, supposedly, the check would need to travel all the way to the States to be cashed. When I tried to deposit a few of the dollar bills I still had with me, they turned them down because there was writing or some other flaw in them. I was so furious that I just stormed out of the place.

Elvira suggested going to her own bank, the Demir Bank, a Turkish one, as she thought any bank would be willing to cash a personal check, something I highly doubt it. We were told they would charge $152.00 plus a 2% commission to do so. I simply said thank you knowing that in this age of computers and scanners mailing the check is completely unnecessary and it’s simply another way of ripping off the consumer.

I took advantage of our time alone to notify Elvira that my post had not been renewed as she kept making reference to the things we’d be doing next year. She was appalled to have been kept in the dark and proposed different ways Forum could go about trying to change the decision. Apparently, Lingua had been instrumental in the recruitment of the senior ELF, someone whose name I recognized, as Gulnara, from Forum, had already been informed of her arrival for next year. I asked Elvira not to contact Jennifer directly with a request to reconsider the decision and that I was fine after all. Still, Elvira wants me to apply for any hard-to-fill post that might become available here.

We walked to the Beta Stores and ran into Willoughby there. I had no luck getting the ATMs to accept my MasterCard and Willoughby offered to loan me some money until I could figure out what the problem was as I had no money whatsoever left in my wallet.

The session at BGU went rather well even after I discovered that the laptop brought in didn’t have PowerPoint and none of the computers in the Department of Foreign Languages had a PDF converter program either. We went into a discussion as to the reasons most students were reluctant to speak in class and then analyzed some possible solutions before my showing them some of the speaking activities I had found to be successful in my own classes.

I walked home once again taking advantage of the abundant sunshine to exercise a bit. I stopped at Narodni and bought a couple containers of Korean salads to bring to the book club tomorrow. Once I got home, I turned the TV on to be treated to only two topics: the resignation of the Pope, who cares? and the North Korean nuclear test. Since neither topic was of the slightest interest to me, I turned it off. I’m definitely cancelling the service at the end of March when the pre-paid option is over.

I struggled to stay awake while watching a documentary on “Stupidity”, which seemed a bit dated as it kept mentioning Bush junior, as well as Reagan, as an example of how stupid people can rise to the top. I went to bed at eight o’clock.

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