Friday, March 1, 2013

March 1, 2013

I had to set up the alarm the night before to insure that I woke up on time to skype with my mother on her birthday. Boy, did I feel tired! When I checked my inbox, it was clogged with multiple submissions for the CATEC conference and I did my best to reply personally to each one before moving them to a separate folder.

The skype session went very well as the image was vivid and the sound clear. My mother looked great having had her hair and nails done recently while also appearing to be in a good mood. We chitchatted about everything before I let her know I needed to be on my way to the American Pilot School for a session on American Values and Etiquette.

The temperature was already close to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the snow was beginning to melt at the edges as I made my way to the marshrutka. Tatiana only had ten out of twenty teachers in the little Resource Room and Zeynep was absent today as her daughter was ill. When I asked Tatiana what I needed to do, the informed me I as to run the entire two hour session when I had understood I was there to answer questions.

I had to scramble for my jump drive to try and find something on culture to give us a head start. I had then write a definition of what culture was, share it with a partner and then report to the class. Subsequent to that, they did a Venn diagram showing similarities and differences between the U.S. and Kyrgyz culture, followed by a short review of body language, and finally a few words on etiquette at the table. I had gotten out of that one by the skin of my teeth!

Mairamgul was waiting for me at the VEFA Center so we could proceed to a celebration at another school. She had mentioned on the telephone that I had met this journalist during the winter session and he taught English at a new school out in a village. We rode for perhaps half an hour before reaching a spanking new school, #84, where the security guard escorted to the bathroom before we headed to the auditorium.

I had no idea this school’s English program was also supported by the U.S. Embassy until just a few minutes after we sat down, there came Natalia bearing more CDs and other teaching materials to add to the growing collection on the table. Mairamgul had brought the teacher a framed thank you letter.

We were treated to a slide show evidencing the teacher’s participation in numerous conferences and training sessions abroad including the United States and then the children got on stage and sang many songs in English, apparently all of the songs contained in both CDs the embassy normally distributes.

The power went out, never to return while we were there, and then the endless distribution of certificates took place, but not before all the speeches, including mine, were listened to. Some of the parents insisted on having my photo taken with their child and then we were invited to have tea, except there was no electricity to make it, and so we had to settle for biscuits, fruit and juice.

I promised the teacher that I would make at least one appearance at one of his classes in the near future before we boarded the marshrutka where I promptly dozed off for I was so tired and ravenously hungry. Mairamgul woke me up to tell me she’d be getting off nearby and for me to continue until I got the intersection with Manas. The driver overheard the conversation and was nice enough to point it out to me when we nearby.

It was definitely warm enough to just wear my sweatshirt, so I open the kitchen window when I got home and let the fresh air in. I had some leftovers for lunch and took a nap in the sofa. I then got up and did the dishes before sitting down at the computer to reply to more participants to the conference who had waited until the last minute to submit their proposals.

Zarina wrote me a short note indicating the trainers for the methodology course at Lingua wanted to know why I wanted to be present during their classes and to be given previous notice every time I wanted to show up. I told Zarina, while sending a carbon copy to Gulnara, Jennifer and Natalia, that I had no desire to be in a place where I wasn’t wanted and would not be bothering to come by after all.

I had had a chance to mention to Jennifer last night that I felt my presence at Lingua was completely superfluous as their staff thought they were so good they didn’t need anything from me even though mistakes were being made everywhere. Jennifer agreed my time here was too precious to waste it where it wasn’t appreciated. 

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