Friday, April 5, 2013

April 5, 2013

I enjoyed the most delightful weather today on my way to the American Pilot School where the teachers in training were going to present ten-minute demonstrations of what they had learned during their seven months of instruction.

Natalia arrived shortly after I did and I had a chance to confirm that certificates to be issued to participants in the training sessions taking place in the South could be signed just by me representing the U.S. Embassy since there would be no way of getting Johanna’s signature from afar.

There were eleven presenters out of the twenty female teachers participating in the program. Zeinep explained that teachers who forgo the chance to make a presentation would get a different certificate of participation than the ones conducting a presentation.

I took numerous notes as the teachers fumbled their way through their ten-minute time slot for which neither Tatiana or Zeinep had brought in a timer to keep track of. It became quite obvious to me that the teachers weren’t used to providing instructions in English for their students and couldn’t even say something as simple as: “Please gather in a circle around me.”

Natalia left after addressing the teachers during a short break reminding them that the U.S. Embassy was investing money in their professional development so that they could become future trainers of other teachers at their respective schools. She also tried to get interested in attending the online seminars for the “Shaping the Way we Teach English” course.

When it was time for me to go, Tatiana asked me for my notes, but I let her know that I couldn’t part with my notebook but was willing to send her a summary of my observations later on that afternoon as she insisted she needed to send a report to the embassy the same day.

I waited forever and day for the #10 trolley to come by so I could save myself the long hike if I took the marshrutka instead, but after getting sick of being doused with diesel fuel and plenty of dust, I took the first minivan that came along and got drop off on Kievskaya Street near the Beta Stores.

I then remembered that Gulnara, from Forum, had indicated she wanted to host the upcoming book club at a coffeehouse instead of her own place and had selected an older place with no outside seating and probably a lot of smokers. I walked to the new Bishkek Place and into their Alfredo Coffee place, which faces the street and has lots of rattan furniture up front, and confirmed they’d be happy to accommodate us and there’s no smoking inside. I took down the manager’s telephone number so Gulnara can call him with any questions she might have.

It was then time to stop at the ATM and withdraw enough money to pay my rent. My landlady must be awash in money for she hasn’t even inquired as to this month’s rent perhaps because she knows an waiting for a confirmation that she’ll be installing the A/C unit in the bedroom as we had previously agreed to.

I typed up my report for Tatiana and emailed it to her while sending a carbon copy to Natalia who was also interested in my opinion regarding the teachers' ability to teach in English. We discussed it over the telephone at length. Natalia also informed me she wanted to offer a few sessions demonstrating how to use the video game "Trace Effects" for teachers at the American Corner as she feels they lack the technological savvy to do so on their own.

Madina stopped by in the evening to chitchat with me and have a bite to eat. She informed me she had been able to keep her job at the school after Lingua wrote a letter on her behalf confirming her Saturday attendance at the training sessions and because the colleague that covers her classes on the same day vouched for her ability to continue to do so.

It was a relief not to have our conversation veer into the topic of religion, but it was her turn to vilify the people from Uzbekistan, who in her opinion are plain evil and routinely willing to stab another person in the back at the slightest provocation. She sure has strong opinions on practically everything.

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