linaewen: (Time Management by Harold Lloyd)
In Pakistan (and other countries that celebrate the Muslim month of fasting) the signal for the end of the month of Ramadan is the sighting of the sliver of the new moon in the night sky.  The Eid festival celebrates the completion of the days of fasting from sunrise to sundown, and that sliver of moon is eagerly anticipated by those who have endured the month-long fast.  Sometimes it seems to take forever for that Eid moon to appear!

There is an Urdu proverb that is derived from that feeling of waiting forever – “you have become the Eid moon.”  It is spoken to one who has been long awaited but is late in coming, particularly a close friend who has not visited for some time.

I've become the Eid Moon in that I haven't been posting here since forever!  Actually, since October of last year, but that still seems like forever.  Sorry for not visiting!

I've been keeping busy in my work as the director of ESL here at the Center in Chicago.  It's a fun job for me because I enjoy interacting with women who come in to learn English (and to get help with other things).  I sometimes get to use that "Eid Moon" proverb on them if they haven't visited for awhile, and it always makes them laugh.  It's great living in this part of Chicago, since it's so very similar to Pakistan -- except that we're also close to Wisconsin so we can drive up and visit family whenever we want!

My health has been pretty good these days, though I'm sorry I didn't take better advantage of the almost snow-less winter in Chicago to get in more walking.  At the moment, the weather can't decide if it's going to be winter or spring, so it goes from one to the other on alternated days.  ;-)

I have been woefully neglecting the writing of my LotR-related WIPs, but I'm working at getting back into that -- one chapter posted per year is just not acceptable.  In spite of that, I did do a fair bit of writing last year, which I neglected to share here in my journal, duh!  So my next post is going to be fic-related, with a list of everything I've written in the last year and links so you can read it if you haven't already.

I'll try not to be the Eid Moon after this!  :-D

linaewen: (Books by wizzicons)
Since my last post, my coughing has improved significantly!!!  I'm feeling quite well and even energetic, which is a good thing, because I'm majorly busy with all kinds of projects.  Some of those projects aren't getting the attention they deserve, but I am actually feeling not too bad about my List of Doom at the moment, so I'm not going to kick myself just yet.  Progress is being made on many fronts, and those neglected (but not forgotten) things on the List will get their turn shortly.

The big thing on for today is an evening training session -- starring yours truly as the trainer!  I am the official director of English as a Second Language at our Center, and the rest of the staff decided it would be good if they got better training.  So I'm doing it.  I've only had a little bit of training myself, but I've had some smatterings of experience both here and overseas teaching ESL (by the seat of my pants) -- and since the best thing my official training did for me was give me confidence, I guess I can handle the session tonight!  Even if I don't do a fantastic job, it won't matter -- we're all friends there, so it will be less like a seminar and more like a group of people who know each other getting together and talking about stuff.

Even so, I'm still slightly nervous.  ;-)  Also, my voice has been pretty wonky and unreliable after months of coughing, so I'm praying I won't lose my voice or start coughing halfway through!!

Trying to decide what to NOT get into is harder than deciding what to share -- but I'm getting a feel for it.  Good thing, too, as I only have about 6 hours left before I'm up front and talking.

Well, I better get back to it!  I have to have all my ducks in a row by mid-afternoon, so I can go set up, make copies of handouts, make sure my laptop hooks up to the projector properly, etc. etc.  Nice that I only have to walk about 200 feet from my back door to the Center -- we live that close!  I can literally leave at the last minute -- and run home in seconds if I forget anything!
linaewen: (Shikamaru Irritated by Unknown)
I'm a pretty flexible person for the most part -- some of that flexibility is innate, and some of it is learned as a result of living in another culture that values time in a different way than Americans are used to doing.  During our time in Pakistan, we really came to understand that South Asians value looser schedules than we do, that time is less tangible, less linear, and always susceptible to last-minute change.  For the most part, that's actually a pretty calming way to live, if one can get the hang of not looking at one's watch or not caring what it says!

It's something we keep running up against here in Chicago, working in the South Asian community.  As a teacher of English here, I have had to go into each situation prepared for my student to not show up -- or to show up at a different time than the set time.  It can be frustrating at times, but it's usually not so hard to stay flexible.

However, I have recently discovered that my flexibility needs a bit of work!  It's been stretched to the limit of late.

One of my new responsibilities at the Center where we work is as the director of ESL -- making sure people in the community who want to learn English or study for the citizenship exam are matched with tutors who are volunteering their time to teach.  There is a certain amount of leeway in these arrangements, because we all know that "South Asian time" is going to be an issue.  But I've never seen it as bad as this before!  Perhaps it's just the sheer numbers of people not coming when they are expected that is testing my patience, rather than me being inflexible, but I must admit, even understanding that it is so, and why it is this way, I'm still having a hard time not throwing a hissy fit!

This week in particular I have not seen one scheduled ESL student show up to study with the teachers awaiting them -- including two of my own students yesterday.  Except for one woman today, who came three hours early and was told her teacher wouldn't be here until later.  After a cup of chai and some talk, she left, saying she would be back later.  But no...

Last week was almost as bad!  For myself, I can manage it, and I'm used to it to a certain extent.  But when it affects others for whom I'm responsible and who don't understand the culture as well, it's another matter.  Some of the volunteers come from a long way away just to help out with teaching, and some of them are students themselves doing this volunteering as part of an internship, so it's important that their students come and come on time.  Instead, we are all getting a taste of "South Asian time" and how it affects the finely crafted schedule.

So I'm pretty frustrated at the moment, and I have the headache to prove it!  Thankfully, I do realize that it's been this way for every ESL director that's ever had the job in this neighborhood, so I know it's not just me making a hash of it.  And I know it will work out eventually -- and the volunteers are certainly getting an accurate feel for it as they learn about another culture.  And I have lovely coworkers who hug me and say "there, there" -- and that's comforting, even if it doesn't help people come in on time for their lessons!

:-)

/cross complaining about culture

Speaking of ESL, this weekend I'm attending the first of three two-day workshops in teaching English as a Second Language.  I'm going to turn it into an adventure and take the bus/subway/train all the way to the suburbs to attend the course.  I set out tomorrow afternoon, with the first class session set for Friday evening.  I will spend the night, since classes begin again early on Saturday and go all day.  I'm looking forward to it muchly, even though it's been a very long time since I sat in a classroom!  But it will be fun.  Not only am I looking forward to the train ride, I'm keen on learning more about this subject -- and not even my frustration with students with South Asian watches can dampen that, lol!

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