2001.09.06

Wow, what's going on?

Looks like Myq has scored some serious free computer time! I didn't think it would happen after my initial experience, but here I am, all alone in the office of the Marine Academy with a computer all to myself and no one standing over my shoulder or inviting me to tea! What freedom, what a relief!

I have tried to overhaul the site a bit to make it a little more user friendly. Unfortunately, I don't have all of the files offline on disk, so I can't update everything just yet. But it's a start. If you like it, let me know. If you hate it, let me know. I've tried to keep the size small still, and also keep it text based for that one Lynx user out there (you know who you are!), but tried to make it a little more interesting. We'll see if I can maintain this level for a while.

I have about another twenty minutes to write whatever I can think of. That's the problem with the cybercafes. The time goes by so quickly that I always feel like I'm rambling about a point in order to get a bunch of words down before all of my taka disappear! Now that I have some free computer time, I can't think of what to write either! I must be hopeless.

Things have really picked up lately and I find that I'm busy all the time. If there's anyone out there reading this that is expecting a snail mail, or even an email, please know that you are in my thoughts, but I have become lousy at writing letters. I will try harder. I find that I don't even have time to leave the P.T.I. sometimes!

I'm now teaching 27 classes per week. That's not too bad -- four to five per day, six days a week. But most classes are unique and require a different lesson plan. I am recycling some material which makes things easier, but I can't make too many plans in advance because I still don't know how things work. I don't know when their first exam will be nor what will be on it. So while I'm merrily teaching different ideas for teaching English to kids, they are worried about the info from their textbooks! The English textbook is written in Bangla. I have the ambitious goal of translating it into English for my own use, and the other volunteers if they are interested, as well as helping me learn Bangla, but finding the time to do that has proven problematic! I also have low motivation for doing so because, quite frankly, the textbook isn't really worth much. It talks about some vague theories and such, but really isn't of much use. I could be a bit biased here. It's meant for people who have no teaching experience. There is no degree in primary education at the university -- that's what the P.T.I. is for. So I guess the simple lessons are new concepts and therefore important to the intended audience, but it's really basic.

The other issue is lack of motivation. I've been at the P.T.I. long enough now, become part of the woodwork I guess, that some people will confide in me and put down the facades that were put up when the bideshi came to town. Some have admitted to me that they know the problems of the P.T.I. system, and even how to fix them, but they have no motivation, they are not sincere, they are lazy. They claim it is an innate trait, which might be true of all humans to some extent, but not just to Bangladeshis. I have tried to incorporate some motivational lessons into my curriculum, try to demand only the best, praise them when they deserve it, and even sometimes when they don't. But I don't know if it's working or not. It might be for some people - the 20 to 30 that come to my optional English classes consistently. Hopefully I can affect a few people somewhere along the line.

But the current issue is being a good role model, so I'm taking the 27 classes, including two per week in the Experimental School and three per week for staff. Again, we'll see how it goes. I'm actually busy for the first time in 6 months!

Yes, I've almost been here 6 months. I can't believe how fast time is going! Some days are long, but most of them just fly by. I'm kind of a slow person to begin with. I don't know how some people have so much free time. It was a curse in America because I seemed so unproductive, but now perhaps it's a blessing.

With the 6 month anniversary, I want to take stock of what I've been doing with this web page. The goal of these entries is two-fold: to keep in touch with friends and family and to fulfill the third goal of the Peace Corps. For my friends and family, I found that I was writing many similar experiences in many letters and emails because much of what I wanted to say was not really personal, but novel for me. Instead of duplicating the experiences I wanted to tell people about, I decided to put it in one place so that I can find time to also write about the personal, person to person stuff. Unfortunately, I've become a horrible letter and email writer! Sorry. I'll try to do better. For the third goal of the Peace Corps (to build understanding of the people served on the part of the Americans), I wanted to share my experiences, views, victories, and defeats with anyone who cares to read about it. Hopefully this personal saga will inspire some people to learn more about Bangladesh, or at least find it on a map. I have had a few random strangers email me about my entries, so hopefully it has helped to expand someone's understanding of the world. I also hope to attract the eyes of past, present, and future Peace Corps volunteers to see if my experiences coincided with theirs. Everyone's experience is different, but I'm sure there are some similarities...

In short, I don't know if I've been wildly successful with either goal, but I think it's at least worth it to continue these entries for another 6 months. I'd also like to refocus away from my rants and complaints to more of an objective reporting of what I see and what I experience. A lot of what has become common to me is still quite novel to people who have never been to this area. I fail to describe these sights, sounds, smells, and feelings when I really should do so. I will try to include more sensory and objective reporting in the future. As always, we'll see how it goes...

Well, my time is coming to a close. The ferry will be leaving soon and the peon is closing things up for the day. If things work out, the rest of this site will be overhauled next week and I might be able to get some longer, perhaps more coherent entries. Take care.

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