Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 26, 2013

Getting coffee made this morning proved elusive. Mohammed informed me that the housekeeper had taken the hot plate home the night before and the restaurant wouldn’t be open until 7:00. It was only quarter after six, but to a caffeine addict such as I am, forty-five minutes without coffee first thing in the morning is simply torture.

I walked to the reception area and asked the front desk clerk if she had a key to the restaurant and she said not. I was told to return at seven, but even then the restaurant was still closed. At half past seven, the servers were bustling about setting up the tables and cutting bread for breakfast. None of them spoke English and didn’t understand what I wanted done with the strange contraption in my hands.

I finally convinced them to allow me into the kitchen where I found a little electric double hot plate where the cook was making rice porridge in the bigger of the two burners. She gave me a murderous look as I plunked the coffeemaker in the other one and stood around until the feeble heat percolated the coffee. Triumphantly, I returned to my room when it was already ten minutes to eight.

I had a throbbing headache by then and my mood had turned sour. Elvira knocked on my door asking if I were ready when obviously I wasn’t. She checked her email while I put myself together and we then ran downstairs to have a bowl of porridge before heading to the school.

In my haste, I had forgotten my cards, the extra papers and the other supplies we might have needed for the remaining workshops. I asked Elvira to go first for a change so I could have a chance to organize myself. Her workshop on teaching vocabulary appeared to go quite well. I followed with mine on dictogloss, something they didn’t know anything about.

We had to break for lunch earlier for the teachers had chipped in money to cater a plov luncheon at a local restaurant. We were served a mixed salad, flat bread, plov and tea. The atmosphere was quite convivial with Idris playing the komuz for us again followed by a group photo on the grounds of the restaurant.

I presented on Norman Rockwell to illustrate the uses of art in teaching English, the one the fellow in Kazakhstan had allowed us to borrow. The teachers seemed to really like it and then I had to pause for we had someone from the local newspaper wanting to conduct a short interview and take pictures.

Elvira then presented on reading strategies and then the local TV channel showed up with the cameraman for another short interview and taping. They stayed long enough to cover the closing ceremony and the handing out of certificates.

Osh Forum members stayed afterward for a short meeting to review the expectations for that chapter and I took advantage of the opportunity to give them a pep talk as to the value of belonging to a professional organization to represent their interests. As we were finishing the meeting, a thunderstorm started with strong winds lashing at the trees.

I suggested that we take a taxi to the hotel as I hadn’t brought an umbrella and was too tired to struggle into a crowded marshrutka. Once at the hotel, I assembled the best photos to upload to Facebook and submit a report to Natalia and also emailed the first batch of handouts to the participants.

Elvira and I had dinner at the restaurant, just soup and salad, and talked for a long time about the future of English teaching in general and what we had learned from our first week together.

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