Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008 I come

that's Romania!..... just got tickets last night. March 17th, I will be flying from here to Dubai, arriving at 4pm. then waiting for a flight to Bucharest at 3 am. and arrive at Bucharest around 10am. not too bad considering, the flight back is arrive Dubai at 6am Mar and then fly back to kabul at 730am, much better. Anyway, I'm going for a week and a half end of March. I'll be seeing Brady and his wife who live in Bucharest. and basically just chilling and walking around the city etc. Should be some fun. anywhere but HERE is going to be awesome. I am going to try and leave a day or two early if I can change my tickets and spend some time in Instanbul on the way back. we shall see if that's possible......start the countdown less than a month away!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

back to work........

I'm back to work this week. i am in book 4 so my students are at a lot lower level of English. It's a good change and challenge for me though. I really have to get em to kick it in, and this is difficult because they go home after school, and don't really have the English immersion that they would studying in the states. I make it pretty challenging for them contstantly in class, asking for examples and sentences for each new word or verb tense etc. right now it's irregular verbs, and yesterday they had 5 sentences they had to find the error in. ahh yeah. go for it.

anyway, i had a good couple days off, Thursday not much of a day off because we plan in the mornings, and then we had a 1pm meeting with the general for program review, and then after that was gym and then church and then a late dinner. The meeting with the general went well, although he used phrases like " computer skills lab", and this means the 10 computers they are setting up as a learning lab for the students. I'm against it, but anything extra will still help for those teachers and students with the time. My main stand is against any internet, but I've been told by the military leaders here that's unlikely to happen at our school since its on the afghan side of the base. I plan to communicate with my team leader soon about the issues of her asking for volunteers to stay late at the lab, which is clearly not within our 40 hours work week, and the fact that the teachers want to leave early on the day that she and the other teacher stays, and then I feel uncomfortable wanting to stay and plan for 30 minutes to get ready for next day.

enough about boring school stuff. Have you ever heard about in bible times, people meeting in caves for church? Well we have the freedom here on base to worship and all, but for some reason no electricity again last week so we had a service in the dark with little penlites at some of the benches and a laptop facing us with the guy's powerpoint to give the sermon. There is a major eddy hall here who is a pastor back home, but not a chaplain, but he fills in sometimes with a sermon. it's a lot of extra work for him to prepare something on top of his job here, so he doesn't do it regularly but will preach from time to time. anyway, so we were singing in the dark with flashlights on the handouts of words to the songs. sort of like a candlelight service but really different.
I have a student now in his late 40's who is very smart, he also has an interesting background of being shot down by the Taliban and put in prison for 8 months. He' quite respected here among the afghans as a senior pilot instructor.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

new students........

well i was going to blog last night and ask for prayer for Asadullah. He slipped in the shower and fell and thought he might have broken a rib. Anyway, he went home after that and was going to get an Xray this morning. But he came after lunch today and said it was bruised or chipped or muscle torn or something ( he was miming and using broken English, remember I'm back in book 4, lower levels of English!). He was sore but just as motivated to learn and write everything down. You can pray for him anyway, though, because Asadullah is very poor and earns $120 a month and has 6 kids, 4 sons and 2 girls from 12 to 3. He pretty much sees learning English as a ticket to making some income someday, and says he's teaching his children already. He also told me that its difficult to do homework because all these little hands keep reaching up to grab papers and erasers and pencils etc... ha. ( he told me all that before he slipped at lunch yesterday) Today he told me how he has a 2 room sort of house. Actually many students live in small houses with all the family sleeping in one room around a wood stove. Yes AFghanistan is one of the poorest countries after all, and the military is not paid much at all.
Ok so here are the names of my new students ( I think first names only should be safe enough to put on the internet....); Asadullah, Enayatullah, Safatullah, Shah Mohammad, Mohammad Shah, and Mullah. so you can imagine me calling these names over and over while I'm teaching every day and making them say sentences or read to me. It's been a good week, and things are warming up a bit during the day, much more comfortable. I'm going to get spring fever like crazy soon I just know it, so I have to start making serious travel plans. Brady(in Bucharest)? are you ready?
......please say yes! ha

Monday, February 18, 2008

letter I wrote just to be heard.....

Jerry and Ray,
my jacket size is size Large.

As one of your highly qualified ESL teachers hired to teach here at KAIA, I wanted to state that I do not recommend having Internet access on the ANA base at our language school. This will only decrease teacher productivity. In all my years of experience with ESL and including my education in language acquisition during grad school, I have never once heard of any benefits to learning a language that involve any access or experience using the internet. I fail to believe any money,time, or effort on this issue will benefit our ELT program here in any way. Perhaps you've been told the General has been pushing for this, that is only on the advice of our team leader. I obviously disagree. I was hired to teach English, not to Americanize the Afghan pilots by teaching them computer skills or how to use the internet. Of course, as a member of this team, I support the program fully, regardless of what decisions are made.

I have been completely satisfied with our living conditions and use of internet on our base. This is a third world war-torn country, and I couldnt' have expected any better. I love what I'm doing in the classroom with my extremely poor students. I don't want only the complaining voices to represent the feelings of this team as a whole.

thank you,
Dean Reusser

Sunday, February 17, 2008

more pics...

here are many different photos of kabul....I can not take any credit, as I'm not allowed off base ever. ha a student named Mike took my camera last weekend. and yes there is daily life in Kabul AFghanistan amongst the bleak winter weather.

Friday, February 15, 2008

good thursday and friday....

had a nice Friday off today, I woke up and went to the mess hall, and then chatted online with friends from all over ( thurs eve for them) and then had lunch, and then blah walked around the stores here on base afghan stuff, and then took some laundry to the laundry place, and then gym...

I did buy some books online on today so that will keep some mail coming. (note; anyone sending packages if you need to fill space, smash a roll of toilet paper, also some good hand lotion like Aveeno is good, so dry here, and newspaper funnies also good)

Thursday morning, went in as usual for our planning time 9-11am. we had a huge order of workbooks come in which I put in the inventory room and I printed out some roll sheets. We will be changing classes this week, so I'll have all new students after our test on Sunday. SWEET, only 6 this time and back to book 4! ha

my students aren't happy at all to be leaving me, so that's a nice feeling. ah well.

Went to church service THrusday night, but the chapel "shed" here didn't have any power so we went to the "Green room", a meeting room at the headquarters across the street from the chapel. We currently don't have a chaplain available so the 9 of us, everyone in fatigues, and then me in black t-shirt and jeans, had a service. this guy plays guitar and we all sing a couple songs, then prayer, then we did this sort of bible study on 1 kings 19. about Elijah fleeing Jezebel and went to the mountains, and how God did not speak through a miracle of the storm or earthquake but only a whisper which Elijah listened for. The study asked questions about why to people sometime lose faith or hope after miracles , and how we should listen for God in the quiet times, and keep our faith as strong with or without the miracles. next we read about Elijah giving his cloak to Elisha to be the next prophet and how Elisha killed all his oxen and burned his plow. WE discussed then how he was ready to answer God's calling, and how today it's important that we are listening and obediently ready to answer when he calls us to serve, help, minister, witness, do work, encourage etc.. you get the picture. it's not just going to another country, its when you hear the church needs something, and you've trained yourself to already give an excuse why you won't do it, or a friend or stranger needs help or a shoulder, and you have yourself trained with an excuse why it's not YOU who should do anything, but instead why are we not as sensitive to those opportunities to love Him by loving or serving others. etc..

was a good service over all , and we ended with the hymn, "what a friend we have in Jesus" go to love the hymns.

I'm looking forward to an interesting week with my guys testing book 15 on Sunday and then new students to meet for book 4, I'm getting my room ready with all new words and posters at lower levels, and took down all my past upper level stuff in the room. good weekend to all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

few more kabul pics........

these are some pics of all the snow last weekend. and the truck below the balcony step outside the door of my barracks, looking down to the truck delivering mail. The post office is the room below mine. also there is a pic of the the base in snow and the runway. the pic of my classroom board show how I was trying a prescriptive approack to introducing vocabulary words.
I have to give a shout out to Sky Elliot, a professor of mine at UCO during grad school. She is more beautiful than martha stewart but same gorgeous blond classy type, yet she is a wonderful Christian woman, mother, wife, with a sweet southern manner and charm. She really put our class in a discomfort zone by teaching us prescriptively and making us search out and think and find answers, versus just being told the information to write down. Truth is, that prescriptive teaching will provide better retention for what the students are learning. So now I find myself actually considering , what can I do different in my classroom, a different approach, .....and not only that but I had a reason to, because it only helps!
SO here you see the words on the board, and before lunch I removed all the students workbooks from their desks. (Our general method with vocab words has been to review the list at the beginning of each lesson, pronouncing them and all the guys talking to each other in dari so they can think about the word in their language and write down the translation in Dari next to the word. BORING.)
so I had them talk about the words on the board, and use the ones they knew already in sentences, then I gave lots of examples with the new words and used ENGLISH to describe what the new words meant, and had them try and use the new words in a sentence (we are on book 15, NOT impossible). man did they hate not having their books, and being able to write down all the notes next to the words. but that was the point! I promised them once we were through, I'd give them their books back and we'd go over again each word.
so thank you, Mrs. Elliot, for the great teaching examples you had provided in class.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

lunch with the General.....

we had a really great time at lunch Tuesday with the General of the Afghan army. He had invited out team leader for lunch at his place, but we instructors are not allowed off base, so the invitation eventually change to all the instructors to meet him for lunch here at their headquarters on the ANA base across the street sort of from where our school is. We were told about it yesterday morning, and we all discussed not going because we are irritated with being told what to do versus being asked, invited ahead of time, given notice like normal adults etc...
Anyway, it was a great lunch and the General spoke some English, and I sat nervously hoping no one said the wrong thing and enjoying the food. All Afghan food! Chicken, and meat patties in the best corn sauce, and palua which is tasty rice with raisins ( i pick out the raisins but they do add some nice flavor), and my favorite was "mantu" which is like a beek dumpling sort of with wantan around it. those were great. the server dude kept coming around and giving us more of those and more rice as we ate. also you may notice in front of the picture the afghan bread, huge round pieces, it is also very good. desert was fruit and some pudding sort of custard thing... blech. We discussed the Generals time in Russia and training as a cosmonaut in the 80's. Also AFghans cricket team, and this game they play in north afghanistan on horses. (I'll blog about later) It was a really nice time, I look a little rough because I'm growing the beard back. also I am ready to get back to class in the last pic, we were not on time getting back.
truth is I'm never truly comfortable with these people, my roomate and another are the most normal. but I'm happiest in my classroom or back on base. ha

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tuesday morning....

I'm about to get up out of bed here. just waiting for my roomies alarm to go off a second time which signals to me it's 6:30 am. I like to get to the mess hall by 6:45 and definitely by 7 am so I can have at least 30 min to enjoy breakfast before heading back to the school.
We started talking about dreams in class, and good dreams and bad dreams. and I was talking about how when I have a bad dream I usually wake myself up because I'll begin to pray in my dream. And they were very curious how I could pray in a dream and how I did that, and I said well you know like prayer... I start talking to God. And they said but we have to wash ourselves before prayer (5 times a day). and I told them, that's great if you're commanded to do so, I am not. And then I mentioned that I don't have too many bad dreams because I protect
what movies I see and what I put in my mind, and they agreed completely. then it was continue lesson 3 of book 15.
a good discussion can compare and inform of differences and does not have to always argue or convince of one way or the other. I appreciate these discussions because I know it makes us both think.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

I'm reading this great book.

I found this book mentioned in a magazine and so ordered it online with a sneaky suspicion I'd like a book of 79 essays about design. The book is "Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design" by Michael Bierut. It leans more on the side of graphic design than anything, but overall design is mentioned throughout. People more familiar with the field of graphic design may recognise more of the names and concepts of art mentioned, but I still find the book awfully interesting and actually funny. The author is himself a famous graphic designer and he writes it just how he sees it without holding back. I have to say the guy writes with such expertise on the field and thinks so openly about the possibilities of the philosophy behind graphic design, I have found it really laugh out loud funny at time. pure wit!

I have also orderd some graphic novels online to read while here in Kabul. And so far my roomie back in okc has been mailing my mail including my magazine subscriptions and stuff. so that is also very cool. Gee with the same internet and mail set up, I could probably stand living on a space station if I had to. well maybe not the space station, the gym wouldn't be the same for one, and who knows if among the astronaut/scientists there would be any other Christians along. ha.

Friday, February 08, 2008

saturday morning begins the week here....

just starting off my morning, usually wake up at 5:45 am and check my emails on the computer before getting up. Our van leaves at 7:30 to taxi the runway to the ANA side of the base, so I usually am up and at the mess hall by quarter til 7. I sleep with my cell phone under my pillow, it's most useful function has been as alarm clock, and also that of calling people back home.
The weekend went very smoothly, things become more and more routine here, a sort of living de ja vu. It will be nice once the weather improves because then i can go read different places on base on get out of my room when the roome is always here.
We had our meeting on Thursday with the Program manager ELT (Engligh lang. teaching) from Eggers, also the Colonel was there, and all of us teachers and the DLI rep. They handed out a chart of the chain of command, this is so that things will not be sprung on the General at meetings which our leader has a habit of doing. When that happens it makes everyone look dumb because he turns to them and they think, uh this lady hasn't spoken to me about this.
anyway, the major disagreement was using computers, then everyone agreed that if it wsan't during class time then no big deal, however there was NO need for interenet at the school, which I agree with. I still don't agree with any type of money being wasted on a computer lab, so we'll see that how happens, since our student go HOME after school and do not stay after school, also we already have our 40 hour work week mapped out so i'm not sure how we are supposed to stay after hours with students. overall, good meeting and our leader and the DLI rep hugged at the end. We do know that a DLI teacher is coming in march, so that might be when I get a vacation, and then another in April. they will both be armed on base so that was good for us to hear.
We haven't heard word from our subcontractor about the other two teachers hired in OKC. he acts as if everything is going on schedule, but here we've already heard no they aren't coming and have been replaced by DLI's own instructors.
i went to Chapel service Thursday night, i had missed last week, and capt Hall gave a sermon about prayer, so i was inspired to make a list here in my room, i definitely lhave the time, also to listen first and to thank always.
I'm glad to get back to class today and hit book 15. I'm trying to think of some ways to be more prescriptive and descriptive with my teaching, its uncomfortable to students sometimes but the retention is so much better. I plan on making a huge poster of all the vocab from this book and then asking them to use in sentences and such several times over to get the gyst of the meaning before just writing Dari translation for every word in their books.

illegal immigration bill in Arizona in the news.....

came across this story online about a state law in Arizona that was upheld in court, dealing with hiring of illegal-immigrants. Thought it was interesting.if anyone in Oklahoma has heard or seen headlines with news of the law passed in Oklahoma I'd be curious to know its effects so far. I believe this July 7th is the next big date where all public agencies are supposed to check with a national registery on Social Security numbers. Regardless how futile that may seem, or even hard to consider the system ever not going wrong, its a start. But I'm curious to know if hiring the jobs disappeared or were filled after November 7th. For example at one point before leaving for kabul, I'd called to get new windowls installed, and was told that the warehouse in Oklahoma who used to supply the windows were out due to no workers in the warehouse (immigrant work force). i also wonder if legal citizens, maybe teenagers or highschool graduates, ( or dropouts) are filling the public works jobs like all the city parks grounds maintenance, cities etc all that. And if non-employment has gone way down. It'd also be interesting to know what effects this has had on Arkansas of Kansas, for example did everyone just shuffle to different states and not go back to their country? anyone reading, make sure Immigration reform is on the top of your list in choosing a candidate this year, because its an issue no one will want to touch on either side, otherwiese they lose the immigrant votes. Give enough illegal immigrant amnesty and don't worry their vote will count enough so that one day we'll have two national languages in this country.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

wednesday coming up.....

will be testing book 14 tomorrow. I THINK my students are ready... I guess we'll find out. we've been doing lots of "give me a sentence with..." drills in class which really makes 'em think.
I'm reading through book 15 tonight since I'll start that tomorrow after the quiz during 2nd hour. We teach 4 hours before lunch and then 2 hours after lunch, and there is a ten minute break between each hour. lunch is from 10 til 12 noon, and we start class back at 1:10pm and then we dismiss classes at 2:50 pm sharp.
The students were glad to hear I'd be teaching them one more book. I do like my students but I'm sort of interested in having other students, the slower ones so to speak. all the student testing higher grades have been accelerating in my class on normal speed, but the other students seem to really struggle through the other books.
things on base are pretty good. we have had about 50 new USA guys move into our barracks here on base, so all the American officers are now doubling up and have moved out of our building and been replaced by 2 new guys in a room instead of 1. so lots more people around which means more people in the gym too, ha. as in wait for a treadmill.
but its all good. life is work,mess hall, work,gym, mess hall, home on computer in room, sleep etc...
I went into work the other day thinking, man what a grind. blah, work work work and when will I get out of here so I can work in my yard. But then i decided, I really do like teaching m ystudents, and I need start thinking of them like my yard. what can I do to fully prepare to successfully grow with their English, and then get excited by the progress I see each day.
I also had some bad attitudes about the leadership which I complain a little bit to my roomie at times, I want to to stop that completely, so I am trying to pray more for our leader, that she learns how to do the job more successfully etc..
we have a meeting with her and some of the officers from camp Eggers on Thursday, which includes the DLI rep here. SO basically there is a huge battle going on between what authority DLI has over us contractors. right now, we use DLI materials, and it seems they had some say in getting the contract written for hiring us teachers, but our leader came over expecting to be in charge of everything in the school, and insteaad it seems DLI wants to tell us how we will run the school. I'm all for DLI being in charge right now because I've seen what we lack in leadership.
I'm secretly looking forward to the two DLI instructors coming to teach with us. DLI did not approve the add on contract for the 2 other teachers coming over here, although they've already been hired and making plans back in OK. So now everything is limbo while the contract is reviewed and interpreted etc... blah, but anyway I'm excited to meet the new DLI teachers because number one, I know (hope) they will be experienced ESl teachers with a sort of professionlism I don't always observe in our staff here, and number two they won't be under any authority of our contracted leader here so thay should provide lots of drama. ha ha
I'm so bad, anyway, we shall see, that's the current update.
I still need to post on the two conversaions now that have come up in class, comparing my religion and the students of islam. I'm glad God gave me a heart for people, and that I've been taught to have a consideration for others etc... and the students have parts of their culture that are so interesting and respectable. and yet they are so poor and the country is so poor, and I am getting to know them better and sometimes here their grief or worries come through in conversation or the sentences they write.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

before and after... but i'm growing it again, easier not shaving.....


here some pics of last weekend. me in body armor. that's capt izzo and seaman Fort on the right. we took a convoy to the other base in kabul on Friday, for shopping at the bazzarr there on Fridays, and for Capt Izzo's goodbye dinner etc. was a good time, I took pics of the bazaar and some of the old houses on base that are now surrounded by barracks and made into the base downtown.

Friday, February 01, 2008

my weekend over, yours beginning

had a nice weekend.
Thursday we did some plan time at school, an Air Force pilot mentor came to my class to do a video on weather for 2 of my students that showed up for it.
I also shaved my beard on Thursday afternoon. I'll prolly grow it back though before summer just for fun and save time shaving.
Friday we went to camp Eggers. I finally made it off base. We signed up for a convoy to go with izzo, this captain who's helped us run our school. We will miss him. so we all went over to eggers so we could have a good steak dinner together at the American base. I also did some shopping at the Friday bazaar there. a little metal bird, a wool blanket, a pillow cover, and got fitted for a suit. only problem was when I dropped my camera and the lens broke and would no longer retract/work. ahh well that's what I get for having gloves on. The good news is I've already replaced my favorite little camera on for under $200.
it was exciting riding in the convoy and back between the bases. shuttle leave on the hour between bases. I will show some pics that my roomie took of me wearing the armour gear later.