Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring.... (eventually)

March has never been my favorite month of the year, but this year it hasn't been so bad.
It is finally consistently above zero Celsius (even though it snows practically every night). SPRING is coming.

Along with spring came quite a lot of good news.
First, I will be working at an ACCESS (American English language camp with high-school-aged children) camp in June. The camp in Chelyabinsk, unfortunately, is in July, so I would not be able to make it, so I will instead be going to nearby Bashkiria to a smaller city called Salavat. Everything is all worked out, I am in contact with the director there and might even be able to stay with a host family. This will only be for a week, I know that Svetlana will need my help during this month as with any time.

Also... BIG news... I am officially hired to work at Adyghe State University next year! My friend will be preparing the documents this summer. It is exciting, I will get to live in the North Caucasus and teach both English and Spanish! It is also just good to know that I have something in line for next year, and not have to worry about the "parents' basement" unsuccessful-job-search possibility.

As for life in Chelyabinsk, classes are going smoothly for the most part. As you may know, I do teach at three different institutions, which does get confusing (sometimes schedules don't really coincide, and it is really nobody's fault). The only really difficult classes I have are when I occasionally cover Svetlana's classes with the Sports Faculty. These students, as athletes, have a lot of energy, and have a very low level of English, and most of them would rather just pal around with me in Russian, and I need to set some sort of authority. It can get pretty exhausting.

Most students, however, are consistently very enthusiastic. There are two particular students in the ACCESS group (the younger students who will go to the summer camp) that have really impressed me. One of them wrote me a terrific essay about Michigan (long story about how we got to this topic) and another student has never failed to turn in her homework and always seems to be eager to be on task. Believe me, in Russia, this is very refreshing to see.

Because of the more consistent schedule, I have been able to put together a new batch of lesson plans, which were for the most part both useful and unorthodox (in a good way) for the students.... including a talk about the Boston Irish and St. Patrick's Day (including the Boston Celtics and the Dropkick Murphys), debates for the YURGU students about internet piracy and social networks, a discussion about the "real world" American workplace featuring clips from "Office Space", and an analysis of Red Hot Chili Peppers lyrics. "Californication" certainly surprised people, when they found out the real meaning of the text... I myself was pretty surprised when I found out for the first time that it was not some happy song about California... and "Especially in Michigan" produced some rather strange imagery. Most students DO agree that Michigan looks like a mitten.

Also... this weekend I probably made the best contribution to the side project of mine, and got to professionally record some Russian folk songs. It so happens that one of the teachers I work with has a husband who works as a sound technician in a theater... the only theater in Chelyabinsk with an full-professional recording studio.
Here are the Dropbox links to the songs:
Tonight, I'm leaving for a conference in Ufa (Bashkortostan, the place where I visited Cathy in the summer). Cathy Trainor, the Fulbright ETA there, has organized the whole thing, молодец! I'll be giving a lecture on "Health and Fitness in the USA" and signing some of my "Songs from the Urals" (that part will only be for the ETA circle, as I didn't see much point in presenting that for some people who already live in the region) Oksana will be there, as well as the new American Consul from Ekaterinburg!

So much to prepare for...

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