Thumbs Up

Apparently, I’m doing well.  I mean, I could have told you that things are fine, but in the grand scheme of things, the Peace Corps has decided that I’m doing just fine.  Or at least that’s the impression I got after one of my supervisors came to my site and checked out what my situation is over here.

My boss came to Ujar as week for a look-see into how I’m doing as a volunteer.  It was an evaluative check in, but more of a ‘is there anything you need to get started’ kind of visit.  She met with the director of my school, with my host family, and with Rasmiyya and Ulduz, the teachers that I co-teach with.

She mentioned this, and I think it’s true, but I really am lucky with what I have here in Ujar (or poojar, as I like to say).  A lot of people are struggling with unsupportive counterparts who don’t want anything to do with modernity, or dealing with bossy directors who are only interested in how much money we’ve brought with us (zilch, by the way).  Instead, everyone is supportive of me, and I haven’t had anyone stand in my way and tell me that I need to slow down or anything like that, because the people at school generally supports what I’m doing.  I would have a much different outlook on things if I had these sorts of issues to deal with everyday.

For example, some volunteers complain that they never get a chance to really teach.  In reality, we are assistants and the teacher can choose to utilize us as much as he or she likes.  Some people come in everyday but they don’t get to teach the students because their counterpart is stuck in their ways, and don’t want to share the stage.  Or maybe their afraid of looking like they can’t really speak English.  There are a lot of different possibilities.

I, if anything, have the opposite problem.  I teach too much.  My ideal would be a seamless lesson where be are both involved in how the day is taught because the idea behind our lesson was mutually created.  But now, I write all the lesson plans, and teach most of the time, I think because my counterparts are curious to see how I do it.  They tell me that my style of teaching is so completely different from what they’ve seen that they don’t really know what to do with it.  They do like it though.

So as I teach my classes, I also want to be showing them how I do it.  I’m not gonna be here forever (27 22 Months in Azerbaijan), so I need to show them how to write lesson plans and make interactive lessons themselves, so that their classes will be better then they were before I came.

And according to Peace Corps, I’m on my way to doing just that.

5 responses to “Thumbs Up

  1. Alrighty! That’s the ticket. The old “capacity-building” technique. It appears that the luck of the draw has provided you with two teachers who are willing to let you take the lead. So, what a great thing to be able to stretch out rather than be thwarted or frustrated by personalities or pettiness. Very cool of you to understand all this and be ready to take advantage of it.

  2. By the way, I really like the header photo…the way you cropped it to fit with the gaggle of geese off to one side. Graphically, a very nice touch.

  3. hey jeff! just read your article in the world. quite interesting. i will have my interview with the peace corps soon. perhaps this week. i have compared some of the other individual’s experiences , according to their blogs, and it seems that you are having a very different experience from them. perhaps it is because you are more analytical and it seems that are partying alot and having a grand ole’ time while you are reflecting on your impressions and what you do not like or do like. but this is just my own impression? if this is correct, why do you think you are having such a different experience? are you pleased with your choice of serving in the peace corps?
    oh yes…any suggestions for my interview?

    lindsey 🙂
    north bend

  4. Read the article you wrote for The World from this weekend’s paper and thought I would check out your blog. I hope that the Peace Corps turns out to be a good experience. I know in your article you mentioned that it’s not exactly what you were hoping for, but you’re right in that it will be what you make of it! At the very least the experience will be one that you’ll never forget and you’re making a difference in the lives of a lot of people. Hope the acculturation process goes alright-continue to represent our nation well! Best of luck!

  5. Hi, Jeff– I also read and enjoyed your column in the World paper. You did a fine job of writing. We look forward to the next column!
    Much love, Grammy

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