Friday, March 1, 2013

February 28, 2013

Glorious, inspiring and energizing sunshine was pouring through the kitchen window when I got up. It couldn’t have come a day too early as the gray days were beginning to wear me out. I can easily face the cold weather, but lack of sunshine is something I simply abhor.

When I sat down at my computer with my cup of coffee, I discovered I had no Internet access. How I wish there was a way for this service provider to notify me I’m running low on funds so I can go to the kiosk and add more money to my account. There was nothing to do but to get my clothes on and trudge through the snow to the Narodni supermarket where I managed to complete the transaction on my own.

Once back at the flat, I caught up with my emails, Facebook posting and other tasks including the mailing of the last handouts for the session today. Natalia called to confirm she’d be there at 1:45 bringing the goodies for the teachers and the printed certificates.

I was about to tackle the steps at the university when the dean came from behind to say hello and to express his regrets, again, for his poor English. Natalia was leaning against the door waiting for the class to be finished so she could unload the heavy nylon bag containing magazines, certificates, CDs and other materials for teachers.

She completed her usual spiel about the many professional development opportunities offered by the State Department online and all the free materials that could be downloaded from said website. When she mentioned that the deadline to apply for CATEC was tomorrow, many of them feigned ignorance about the event even though I had emailed them the application the first week I was there.

Once Natalia was gone, we talked about motivating students by getting to know them well and by becoming more approachable professors. I gave them the teacher’s immediacy scale to be completed at home and the student’s survey to determine how students liked to learn a foreign language. We then moved to the actual presentation for the day, which was on dealing with mixed ability level classes.

I had then list some of the reasons they had students in the same classroom which ranged from practically beginners to advanced level and then looked at what the research pointed out to as the real causes. We then went through some of the techniques the teachers could use to minimize the friction that such situation could pose in the classroom.

We had the usual distribution of certificates and group photo taken before the head of the department presented me with a framed printing of a Kyrgyz house done on leather material. It will make quite a conversation piece back in the States. I walked back to my place to kill a few hours before joining Jennifer for dinner and took advantage of them to complete my report on the just finished series of workshops, and to upload the photo to the embassy’s website.

I was at the Hyatt Hotel at ten to seven and just walked around the lobby admiring the expensive-looking leather furniture and posing to read the announcement for the upcoming Women’s Day dinner for just 2000 soms or a little less than $50.00 per person.

Jennifer came down then and indicated she needed to exchange money, but I offered to pay for dinner since she’d had done the same the last time. I did manage to find the Chinese restaurant Zamira had pointed to the day before and while walking there, Jennifer reiterated her apologies for the way she had delivered the news about my post not being renewed.

I had to go through the same iteration that what had bothered me was the fact that no one mentioned it to me when the decision was made. She ignored my comment, but did confirm that both Gulnaras knew about the change in plans and probably decided to say nothing just to save face. I have to say that my jaw practically dropped as I simply never expected that Gulnara from Forum was in the know the whole time.

Dinner was a humdrum deal: salty eggplant, spicy beef, stir-fried broccoli and fried rice that was brought in at the end of the meal. We both had a beer and were given straw in them again. Jennifer mentioned that the straws are given to female patrons only. Go figure!

I declined to take a taxi by myself that late at night, past ten o’clock, and hopped into a marshrutka that then turned onto Chuy unexpectedly. I had to get off and walk more than four blocks in the darkness to reach my place. Something not to be done ever again.

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