Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1, 2013

The cell phone alarm woke up this morning to dark skies and pounding rain. I had little time to contemplate the weather as instead I needed to print out the handouts, find warm clothing to wear again and debate whether I could do without wearing my winter boots. I went for the pumps I wore in Kazakhstan and hoped for the best.

The streets were flooded as apparently it had had rained all night long and the puddles in the sidewalk meant that my shoes and socks were pretty soon soaking wet. Gulnara was waiting for me at the intersection where I used to live and we walked together from there with our flimsy umbrellas doing little to protect us from the gusty winds and the rain.

A computer and fancy screen had been set up already and the pleasant IT guy copied my presentation to the desktop so I could easily locate it when my turn came. The director gave a hasty speech along with Gulnara and then Natalia who took a long time explaining all the programs the embassy offers for English teachers. There were no announcements regarding the schedule, the coffee breaks, lunch and so on.

Joel Deen was the first one to present on the functional approach and was forced to cut it short so that Gulnara could follow him and we could still have lunch by the time listed on the program. Gulnara’s presentation was way too short, forty minutes short of the hour and a half she’d been given. I couldn’t understand why she had prepared so few activities given the time frame we had discussed last Saturday.

Willoughby had come back from a visit to the Peace Corps compound and was due to present immediately after lunch. I decided to organize a speaking activity to take up some of the slack and we did the game “Taboo” with famous people as the topic. It went relatively well although the teachers seemed a bit stiff when participating in it, and we stopped at noon.

The Forum group walked to a Turkish restaurant nearby where I ordered their red lentil soup, eggplant salad and rice. Turkish tea was brought to the table automatically in small shot glasses but I found it too bitter to enjoy it. Willoughby ate nothing while Bagdat and Gulnara had a spinach pizza that looked like a calzone.
It was still raining when we returned to the university and my sweatshirt was soaked by then. 

Since the heating has been turned off already, there was no chance of getting any warmer inside. Willoughby presented her session on idioms and left immediately claiming to have lots of work to do on her grant. Mairamgul and Bagdat had already left as well as Gulnara, so I ended up closing the seminar on my own.

The presentation on body language was obviously something new for these teachers and most of them seemed enraptured by the topic as indicated by their numerous head shakes and smiles when they recognized a particular point or gesture I demonstrated. I emphasized that as teachers they were sending messages through their bodies and needed to be aware of them.

They completed the handout on specific gestures, and I had them complete a ticket out of door form before bringing the session to an end. When I walked outside, it was snowing big thick flakes of the white stuff. I was practically speechless, but wasted no time and simply walked home at a fast pace to get out of my damp clothes and into something a bit warmer.

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