Saturday, June 6, 2009

What's going on?

No idea what I'm doing-

So I'm in Kazakhstan. Things here right now kind of remind me of the opening of "A Tale of Two Cities": "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Best of times: Got an awesome flat, two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom, have a TV, electric stove, couch, beds, washing (and possibly drier too), in an interesting country that no one else usually goes to, I've got my own mobile phone working here, and there's lot of interesting and friendly people. Another plus is I’m a couple of thousand miles from reality and the roles I’ve been assigned by people back home. I’ve also got a really cool trip in the works for Korea before I come back to the states.

Worst of times: teaching three groups (all at different levels of proficiency-with one of them being a group of teachers from the bloody institute) for about 8 hours a day every weekday (including Saturdays-which my biggest problem isn’t working Saturdays because I want freetime, but because I have no idea how I’m going to keep these lessons going), apparently Dr. Lee has “highly recommended” us and they have “the greatest confidence in us.” Kazakhstan is also a very strange country; the flipside to its interesting country status. Also, the flat started with one desk chair and two stools for the kitchen, but we have two desks and one of those damn stools broke. The bleedin’ washer (and possible drier) has been giving us a lot of teething troubles while we try to figure out how the bugger works, since it’s all printed in Russian. And while reality might be 1000 miles away, it is closing fast-I haven’t been able to run since Jinju; I’m always tired now, not sure where I can run, and the air quality here is a bit poor. Not to mention I have to learn Russian while I am here so I can pass the test (and thus graduate with my international studies major)-I’m so screwed.
I don’t remember any Russian and I’m not even sure how I can learn it here; I am so busy planning for the next lesson (and I’m never really sure what I’m doing-like Mad Max: “Plan? There ain’t no plan!” and I have no idea how to teach English). I’m terrible at any language anyhow! But I’m expected to teach English? I’m not sure how to fulfill their expectations; they want to learn about American culture, History, presidents, education system, idioms, etc, but they also want a 30% TTT (Teacher talking time) and 70% STT (Student Talking Time). Look, I’m a bit talkative person, I admit it, but dammit, what am I supposed to do about it? I am a historian; I don’t know how to teach facts getting other people to talk about it. So freaking hosed…not to mention Jake is in an even worse position than I am, regarding teaching these people. I’m trying to have a lesson plan; for the past two days though, I’ve had to work both of ours out. I just finished mine and he’s gone to sleep-will I have to help him tomorrow? Almost definitely. How can I do that in class without either cutting out of my own lesson or making him look like he isn’t doing anything? I don’t know.
Not to mention I’ve got problems on the home front. I don’t want to talk with my family, but I can’t do this on my own and I need Dad’s help. Wonderful! The last thing I want is to ask for their help.

Oh, yeah; I forgot about that-still no word from Singapore airlines, so who knows how that’ll work out? And I’ll have to pay for the change in flight, flights down to Jinju, and also that extra $100 for Kazakh air.
So here’s what the students want to learn about-it’s a pity I don’t know much about any of these subjects (or if I do, I have no idea how to teach them in a 30-70% TTT/STT if at all):
Things Teachers Want to Learn:
Education in the US
US History (Special Focus on Presidents)
Student Life in America
Teaching in the US
US Stereotypes of the World
Family Traditions and holidays
Customs and traditions in Kansas
Society problems (global warming, etc for group discussion)
Youth Problems in the US
Critical and Creative Thinking
Psychology (personality-like introvert/extrovert, preferences-stuff I've taken before) tests
American culture: The Dream, business, Modern Culture, etc
Famous people and their lives
the Founding fathers
Creative/Critical Thinking

Things Students want to learn:

Preparation for their exams
Better critical thinking
more creative thinking
Be able to discuss things
Be able to hold a dialogue
Help with monologue
US Culture

I wonder if when the school fires me for incompetence I’ll be able to stay in the flat or get another one until I can get back to Almaty and then the US. Probably not, right?

Also, sometime later I’ll get back ontop of the Korean trip. Lots of stuff happened and I have many opinions on things (not that they matter or are any good, but I’ve got ‘em)

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