Thursday, February 21, 2013

February 21, 2013

I spent a restless night dreaming about having to do yet more presentations and just being on edge the whole time. It wasn’t until daylight shone through the bedroom curtains that I finally stirred awake and by then it was close to eight in the morning. It was a good thing that I have tried to avoid early morning commitments unless absolutely necessary.

Willoughby called to say she had come down with a cold, but still needed to come to the city center to buy some staples. She had baked the fruit bars I so much like and had them ready for me to pick up. We agreed to meet at the photocopying place at 12:30 pm as she was also picking up some lamination work.

My handouts hadn’t been done the way I requested and they weren’t even stapled together. I had to breathe deeply and remember where I was so as not launch into an expletive tirade. Willoughby handed me the bars she had baked and indicated she’d be feeling pretty good toward the weekend so we could try a Lebanese restaurant recommended to us and take in another opera on Sunday.

We went our separate ways and it was too early for me to head to the Bishkek Humanities University, so I walked to the KazCom Bank hoping to find someone who spoke English and could help me with my debit card. Four young women congregated around me, each one contradicting the other, to inform me that regardless of what my bank had said about a daily limit of $1000.00 a day, their system was set up to allow only $200.00.

The other option would be for me to make a withdrawal using my credit card for which the bank would charge a 2% commission on top of which, most likely, my bank would also charge me for the transaction. In order to do the withdrawal, I needed my passport. I was able to use the card and withdrew $200.00 in crisp bills. I think that it doesn’t matter how I do it, the bank is going to make a killing from me.

I boarded the #118 marshrutka I’d seen on my way to the university and got there in time to have a young teacher help me staple the handouts. She didn’t know what to call the action of “stapling” papers together. Once in the classroom, I sprayed the whiteboard with the cleaner I had purchased and yet another teacher offered to clean it off completely. That was a relief as still needed to organize all my papers and supplies.

We started our discussion on the difficulties of teaching listening and the teachers came up with a list of obstacles which I wrote on the board. Subsequently, I wrote a list of suggestions to overcome those hurdles. We spoke briefly about the traditional manner of teaching listening and the fact that teachers in this part of the world tend to use a very formal register in their classes thus depriving their students of the chance to listen to informal styles on a daily basis.

I went over the handouts and instructed the teachers on the different ways they could be used to bring the listening portion of the class to life. When I mentioned linking and blending and speaking in chunks, one teacher said she’d never heard of those terms and asked me to spell “chunks”. I never got very far into the presentation because there wasn’t enough time to do so. Teachers had never heard of dictogloss either, and I promised to send the presentation and handouts to them in the near future.

I’m really making strides in my walks. I made it back home today in less than half an hour. I made myself a cup of coffee and watched the news for a bit since they were discussing the use of child labor to pick cotton in Uzbekistan and the efforts of many activists to get consumer to avoid purchasing any type of clothing coming from that  country. I remember Yoomie working on a report on that issue last year when she was working for the International Office of Migration.

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