Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 29, 2013

I wore what has become my conference uniform by now, the black pantsuit with a stripe top, and my Mary Jane pumps to the conference at KNU. I wrote down the address for the taxi driver and he seemed more than happy to take me there for 100 soms or a little bit more than two dollars.

The weather was fabulous with plenty of sunshine and temperatures approaching the 70 degree mark. I took some photos of the flowering cherry trees and emerging daffodils while waiting for Nargiza to meet me at the entrance. We proceeded to the administration building where female students dressed in the traditional costumes greeted visitors.

The conference room had a round table set up for the important dignitaries and I sat in the second row jotting down some notes for the two minute speech I was scheduled to give. Since Nargiza was going to be translating it into Russian, I made it as simple as possible by mentioning the numerous doors that learning a foreign language can open to anyone.

We had to sit through two solid hours of non-stop speeches given by mostly old guys from different university departments and government ministries. At 11:40, I had my chance and relayed my thoughts to the audience. They politely applauded and after two more speakers, we had a chance to move to another room and enjoy the coffee, tea and refreshments.

I ran into Willoughby’s landlady, the one who teaches Spanish at the American University in Central Asia, and she asked we speak in Spanish since her English is not very fluent. I was simply ecstatic to find someone in this part of the world who speaks Spanish almost as well as I do. She obtained a doctorate in Barcelona years ago. Now, why can’t our teachers of English achieve such level of fluency here?

Willoughby herself was out front waiting to start her class and we hugged tightly while trying to catch up with all the new items on our lives. She has someone to go to the opera tomorrow, which is good since I’ll be too tired to even consider it. Gulnara, from Forum, reminded me they’ll counting on me to present an additional session for the spring seminar next week.

I took the trolley home and stopped at the corner restaurant I’d seen many times while walking to BGU. I ordered a shawarma sandwich to go so I could have something for dinner as my fridge and cupboards are still practically empty.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing online research on the functional approach to teaching a foreign language as Asel felt that was a topic most teachers at the university here didn’t touch upon for lack of exposure to it. I also worked on my original presentation on body language.

I finally went through the photos taken during my trip to various parts of southern Kazakhstan and made a couple of albums for my Facebook page. I sent some photos privately to Max and mentioned the Forum meeting tomorrow to finalize the schedule for the spring seminar. He indicated he’d be interested in participating, but then I heard nothing else.

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