Friday, September 6, 2013

Whew! What a first Week!

There are times at the beginning of a semester when if feels as if I just can't get started. I look at the clock and think "....ok, two hours before class starts. I can..." and then I start trying to fill in the blanks, complete my class roster

  • complete my semester due-date calendar
  • see if the book store has the books in
  • see if I can find PDFs of those wow, really expensive books at the book store
  • find falafel at the small food place called Beirut. They are often out later in the day
  • get supplies for my students
  • complete my lesson plan befor--
What? It's five minutes to class? Ok. New plan. I'll take my laptop, and while the professor is giving opening remarks and people are asking "is it going to be on the test," (yes, this still goes on at the graduate level), I'll just whip through my 37+ items on my to-do list. No prob.

A Welcome Video for incoming students. watch.

Well, five days later, I'm still working on my list.

So the first week is over. The Islamic week is Sunday through Thursday, with mosque on Friday. So I'll be done a whole day before the rest of you lot!

This first week was tough! It started with a student Welcome Video that I was assigned to shoot and edit for my department. I shot footage all last semester, and then did a marathon 72-hour-no-sleep-class-meetings-editing jag. It was mostly editing. I actually really got into it, staying up with no sleep and no caffeine even, just high on pure tension and energy.

The students I interviewed are really inspiring, especially one student named Hadeer who is blind. Egyptian primary schools do not provide much support for handicapped students, and she only knew Braille. The university oddly enough, does NOT provide Brialle, so Hadeer had a bit of a problem. But with her own determination, and the support of her teachers, friends, and siblings had gone from not being able to turn on a computer, to actually skipping a level in our program just four months later. When students tell me that the work is too hard, or they just can't do something, I bring Hadeer in, and together, we scream and yell until the student caves in and begs for mercy!

The finished video is pretty good, just interviews with students about the Intensive English Program, which is the department where I teach. These incoming freshmen (and graduate) students need more English instruction in order to become proficient enough to take courses at the university which is an English-only environment. We teach reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar, and catch-all course called Study Skills. It's time management, ethics, oral presentation skills and listening.

Other than that, I'm catching up. I teach one hour a day, take classes 9 hours a week, spent time doing lesson planning, doing homework, and time on something called "release time" which is a 2nd hour per day for projects the school needs done. This could be editing the worker-training manuals for a program to teach the AUC (American University Cairo) workers better English so they can learn a new skill, and help with the 7,000+ student body and faculty, many of whom do not speak Arabic. The worker/teacher book is 800 pages of text and photos. It needs to be edited for content and clarity and I also spent summer hours completing this project from last semester.

This weekend, I'm taking some time off. My friend Kristine who lives in a part of Cairo called Maadi (a nice part of town with restaurants, stores, and greenery) invited me over for the weekend. Because the Friday curfew is at 7pm, we will be spending the night making dinner and hanging out. I'm dating a guy named Ahmad, and he's going to come over too. Kristine doesn't like scary movies, so we'll probably be stuck watching something like Tomas the Tank Engine, or some Oscar pick that nobody really liked, but they all had to see, because, well, it IS the Academy and all.

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