Tuesday, September 27, 2005

insert witty post title here

yeah, i know, i haven't posted in like 2 weeks. i'm sorry. there were issues with my internet connection here in the village and going to the internet cafes in shymkent are much more hectic and expensive. i did, however, read all of your wonderful comments and emails. . . i just didn't reply. which i suppose is the important part. so today i shall attempt to make up for my flagrant disregard for your feelings and reply to your comments and emails. 2.5 tenge per minute is really all that's at stake here.

so. . . my life here has been going. i have been at site now for almost a month and a half. let me tell you, it has flown. i'm starting to get more comfortable teaching with my kids and some of them are even starting to understand me (notice i said some, i think a good portion of my students are hearing charlie brown's teacher's voice when i talk). i have some funny stories about my students. . . here goes:

funny story #1: there were still a few minutes before class started, so my students were all just sitting around and talking to each other. one of the girls, rimma, is complaining about something in russian, and to emphasize her point, she dramatically falls backward onto the desk. i see this and say in english, 'i think she's drunk.' and another student replies to me, also in english, 'i know miss ashli, i told her not to drink so much before class. she just won't listen!' [maybe this one's not that funny, i was just amazed at the quickness and grammatical accuracy of this kid's response. . . the next one's funny. i promise.]

funny story #2: in my advanced class we're discussing what happened in a short story excerpt that the kids read for homework. there's a part in the story (which is from australia) where a girl writes a note to a guy and asks him, 'will you go with me?' my students don't know what this means, so i explain that it means that she wants to know if the boy wants to be her boyfriend. so as i explain it to my class, i say to the boy who asked the question, 'so, when i say 'will you go with me. . .'' and before i could finish my sentence, the boy says (totally straight-faced), 'yes!!!' everyone in the class lost it and this poor boy (who had just accepted my 'invatation' to be my boyfriend) just sat there and turned so red! HI-larious.

let's see, what else. . . my first english club is today, and i'm super excited. however, i do not have any lessons to teach today either. why? well let me tell you: i was supposed to teach 2 classes today in the afternoon. my family was invited to some sort of kazakh wedding lunch -- i really don't even know what it is. anyway, my host mom so wanted me to go to this 'event' but i couldn't because of class. so my host mom CALLS MY COUNTERPART AT HOME AND TELLS HER THAT I WON'T BE GOING TO WORK TOMORROW. she doesn't ask her. she tells her. ashli won't be at work tomorrow, she has to go to a fancy kazakh lunch period. my counterpart says, 'uh. . .ok' and now i have no work today! [i guess we can refer to that one as funny story #3]

i went to shymkent for the weekend where i attended a conference on hiv/aids training and teaching. it was really interesting and i can't wait to start talking about it with my students and teachers. also in shymkent we went out and drank mass amounts of shymkentskaya beer. if you ever have access to this beer, i suggest you try it. it tastes pretty good, and there is no gross beer aftertaste. ok, now i'm off to read AND answer my emails. bye!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

i'm a teacher now!! detentions for everyone!!

first of all. . . SUCK IT GMAIL! that's right, i'm so over you. i've moved on, to another free web-based email service provider who knows how to upload. that's right, i said it -- gmail can't upload in the 'stan [it's ok, it happens to a lot of email providers. . . NOT!] if anyone wants to email me now and have me be able to read it, just check my profile. i'll change the email there. if gmail ever comes to its senses and starts treating me right, i'll let you know first thing.

second thing -- thanks for care packages, i can't wait to tear them open like so many christmas presents. this might sound like a strange request, but i just thought of it. could you send spices? like for cooking and baking. (i want to make i pumpkin pie come thanksgiving. . .) they don't have much here but dill and garlic and dill (did i mention dill)? if you do, i promise to bring spices (pronounced DILL) back from the stan and have a kazakh-style cookout. yay!!

so, last weekend i went to a birthday party in shimkent. . . an AMERICAN birthday party. there are, apparently around 10 other americans within reasonable traveling distance from me. i'm super stoked! we ate nachos at this party, like, real, mexican-influenced, american cuisine. they were prepared with love, the only way taht nachos can be made, by my warden martha, and her neighbor sandy. i can't even begin to describe how delicious they were -- martha and sandy are nacho goddesses.

i have been teaching now for a little over a week and, as promised, i have hilarious teaching stories to tell. one of the first questions that my students ask me is "are you married?" and when i respond with "no" they immediately ask "why not?" because at 22 in the stan, i am a spinster. sorry mom, apparently you'll get no grandkids outta this old maid ;) but one girl tried to console me by reminding me that "there are a lot of english boys in shimkent." so, when i went to shimkent, i obviously looked. ann, my sitemate, and i walked up and down the streets of the city searching. ann said to me "i don't see any english boys." the hunt, of course, is still on. . .

also, just today. . . a girl dropped her pencil on the ground and yelled "shit!" after i laughed for about 3 minutes, i had to remind her, that in english, shit is not a word that should be used in the classroom. after i got the class under control -- after the "shit hit the floor" -- buh-dum-ching, i innocently asked them to turned to page "six." they thought that was hilarious b/c six sounds like sex. . . . hardy har frickin har. then we had to read a poem about a "beach" which i never thought of before, but it sounds like "bitch." another 4 minutes gone. but i can't be too mad. . . after all, in kazakh the word for sugar is pronounced - no joke - [kuhnt]. . . so i crack up like the ninth-graders in my class everytime a kazakh offers me sugar for my tea. . .

now that i've told my sugar story, i have to go. . . my hour's almost up. talk to you all later!