2001.07.12

Greetings again from Bangladesh for these semi-regular updates. The loss of regularity can mean two things - I'm depressed or really busy. I think I've been mostly busy and feeling pretty good.

I'm basically killing some time before I take an all night bus back up to Mymensingh for the Superindentant's conference. My Super already left for it. I found out about noon today that I was also supposed to attend. I have to be there by 9:00 A.M. My office, in it's infinate wisdom, decided to tell me less than 24 hours before it started that I was to attend. I had to cancel my first staff class to pack and jump on a bus. I'm still smarting over the whole affair, but am feeling better now because I got a chance to talk to a pair of street girls who came into the bus company office to ask me for bakshish (gifts of money). I talked with them for quite some time and they giggled and smiled and told me about their family. I took their picture as well and hope it turns out on my less than perfect camera. By the end of our conversation, I had taught them "how are you" and "good" and they told me they'd come back to see me. When I responded that I still wouldn't have any money to give them, they said, "taka lagbe na" (we don't need any money). I was quite touched. I wish I could take them all with me and clean them up and give them a good education. They are curious and bright-eyed and don't really know anything other than life on the street. They asked me to take them to America. Oh that I could....

Anyway, the school year ended and now I have a new batch of trainees - 170! Yes, my "small" class has grown quite large. I'm going to try and set up some extra classes to help people in smaller groups. You just can't teach things like pronunciation to 170 people at a time.

I've also been checking out the NGOs in town. I'm getting a little more excited that I might be able to find something to do that's not English related. I've found a health clinic and I will talk to them soon. I'd love to work in their lab or something and help them out in more concrete ways rather than teaching them a language that they will never use.

I think I've also found a language tutor which is a great relief. I have yet to actually ask her if she will, but I think she will. She's very smart and we have similar interests and backgrounds so I think I'll be able to work with her. I've sent out offers to a few other people that I randomly know without much of a response. It's hard to meet someone outside of the PTI that can help me, but I think she may be the one. If it works out, I should be speaking Bangla all the time!

I'm just randomly typing sentences today, in case you can't tell. My mind's a bit frazzled from the quick packing and rush to get out the door. My bus leaves at 8:30. It's 6 now and I still need to find some food and get back down to the station.

Rainy season was here for quite a while, and was quite fun (leaving a 10" deep pond surrounding my building). But I haven't seen rain for some time and it seems like rainy season should be ending soon. I still can't predict the seasons, but I really wonder if this is normal. A few locals were noting that this year is exceptional. The humidity gets to me once in a while, but for the most part, I've acclimatized.

So, the PTI. There are 170 students, and only about 5 or 6 instructors. For some reason, the Brits have decided that they always want the PTI instructors training people in their ESTEEM project which is supposed to make Bangladesh's education system a lean, mean, teaching machine. But from my perspective, it's only making a few people wealthier, burning up a lot of British pounds, and taking away all the instructors from the PTI. I don't think the Brits realize that the Bangladeshis don't need training, they need motivation and money. No one cares about their job and their is no incentive to try hard and be proud of what you do, especially in government service. There's no chance for advancement based on merit, it's all seniority. Like tenure at American universities, once you get a job with the government, you just sit around, wait for people to die, and remain inconspicuous.

Well, I was just about to get into all that, but my hour is winding to a close and I need to finish personal emails. Will try another update soon. I've copied this all to disk and when the computer at the PTI is working again, I'll try to find some time to organize all this in a more readable format, spell check, add some coherancy, etc.

take care world

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