Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More on music, and other news

Earlier today I taught my American Studies class—the students are in their 4th year, and are planning on becoming teachers themselves. They really are wonderful to work with—they are interested, ask questions, and I find them to be irresistible. How often do you get to walk into a building and have everyone rush up to say hello, compliment your outfit, and tell you about where they have been in the States? It’s going to be hard coming back to KU after this experience. I’ve asked if I can continue working with this group next semester, even though my language classes at the university end in December. It really is a high point of the week, and really energizes me for some of my other projects.

This morning, I planned to talk about American holidays. However, the class took a different turn as students started asking questions about the States. They were interested in knowing about what sports people play/watch (by the way—Mom and Dad, you need to move the television BACK to my room. The Red Sox lost 3 straight to Cleveland after you switched televisions around!!), movies, and pop culture. One of the students asked why Americans don’t like pop music, and what sort of music they listen to instead. I couldn’t resist—I had my computer with me, and played a bit of Guns-N-Roses for them to listen to. When I looked around, everyone had an expression of abject horror on their faces. My students then asked if “Americans really listen to THAT?”. They couldn’t understand why some people might prefer GNR to Brittney Spears. The cultural difference can be vast sometimes!

Tomorrow I will be making a presentation at Ablai Khan University on ‘opportunities for change in the educational system in Kazakhstan’. Of course, I only found out about this conference at noon today, and am presenting at 10am tomorrow. Apparently, after the Ambassador from Greece, Ambassador from Germany, and United Nations Delegate all cancelled at the last minute, I am the next best thing. Or something. But I get to have my picture taken and my presentation recorded in the university journal. I’ve been told that I can put a “photographed publication” on my CV, too. In the evening, I’m attending a reception at the US Consulate for the former Ambassador to Finland. It should be a busy day, in exalted (?) company. One of my favorite things about Almaty is never knowing what strange and wonderful situations you find yourself in.