Archive for October 4, 2010

Twelve Midnight and where’s my post for today?

So, I’ve been a bit busy at work but being a creature of habit, I KNEW I had to get my blog post for today done, OR ELSE!  Actually, I’ve missed other days in the past three years I’ve blogged about Kazakhstan but I hate doing that.  I have a following of blog readers who just might move on to other blogs and neglect mine if I lapse even for one day.  I know it is past the bewitching hour and I do not have much to write.

What I DO really want to write is not politically correct and it would not help the cause.  I will write this though, I’m very happy that our first of the movie series at our new campus worked yesterday (or Sunday).  I’m calling this the S.A.M. events because it stands for Sunday Afternoon Movies.  We started out with “An Education” and next Sunday we will show “Blind Side.”  Then we will go back to a “chick flick” and feature “Princess Diaries” with Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews and the last weekend of October we will present “Remember the Titans.”

We showed the last American football movie starring Denzel Washington at American Corner on Saturday night and it was fun to get the Kazakh students’ reactions to this. We like to incorporate discussion groups so the students have a chance to ask questions or comment on what they thought of the movies.  About 50 or 60 showed up for the American football movie on Sat. and over 100 showed up for SAM’s event at the new campus. The numbers continue to go up because of our consistency of showing good movies.  What fun to listen to the laughter at the quick lines and funny parts to both movies. We have a nice auditorium at the National library that is close to Baiterek, actually across the street.  However, we only had chairs set up at the new campus to suit 250 students but I’m glad only 100 showed up.

Ken and I needed all of the 45 minutes before the movie start time to figure out where the extension cords would stretch to the very few working outlets. We also had help from the librarians to find how to shut off the lights in the library once the movie started.  There were NO switches anywhere and finally a Turkish guy came with a remote and pointed to the ceiling and the lights were dimmed.  Unfortunately, that left us defenseless once we wanted to go into our discussion corners after the movie.  I headed for one window where we had outside light, another discussant went to the other wing of the library to discuss by window light with her crowd.  Ken went to the back of the large room where there was still electric lights from above so they could all read the movie handouts with vocabulary words and quotes.

All the bugs needed to be worked out with the audio, the laptop that I forgot doesn’t show on the screen when the movie is playing on the wall from our projector.  We brought our own boom box and since my husband is so handy with gadgets, he got that to work.  Ah, what a relief when all students were settled into their seats up close to the front and we sat in the back making sure those who had cell phones and went out the door to talk knew of our displeasure.  Hadn’t I said before the movie started “Turn off your cell phones” and “No talking or walking out in the middle of the movie, that’s distracting to others.” You know the usual teacherly things one says when in front of a big group of young people.

The part our university students REALLY liked was the drawing at the end where we called out numbers and there were two prizes of a dozen each of my homemade chocolate chip cookies.  These kids are getting institution food now at the cafeteria, they are away from their own mom’s home cooked meals.  I don’t know if I’ll always have cookies as door prizes but it looked like those who won, had instant friends clamoring around them for one  cookie.

So, I didn’t think I had much to write about but I am grateful the technology part of the movies worked, thanks in large part to my husband and my experience of doing this every Saturday night in Kyiv for several years to crowds of 350 students.  We have learned that not all will be pleased with our pick of movies, that’s fine.  We just try to provide a service for those students who want to improve their English by having good quality movies with English subtitles and good story lines to discuss in English afterwards.

Mission accomplished on Saturday and Sunday.  The smiles from the students was all the proof we needed.

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