Posts tagged MATESOL

Let the Defense Begin!!!

My former student Aigerim responded immediately to my blog of yesterday.  Aigerim referred to Madina who I don’t know but liked how she articulated her situation in Kazakhstan through the posting in Vox Populi.  Aigerim presses on a point that I want to make about another former colleague of mine who taught in the same English department in Almaty as I did.  We all got bruised and bumped around by the supposed “administrators” who ultimately “cut off their nose to spite their face” in the decisions they make.  It seems hard to think that their way of administration is democratic or fair.  Nay, I witnessed many injustices.  I like what Aigerim in Astana wrote:

“This young woman, Madina is an image of modern Kazakhs, they see the wrong but are not confident to make a step for a change. Yet Madina is different, she talks on this issue. She just needs support to act. Sadly, most of initiatives of activists are buried into bureaucracy and state control.”

Yes, this is what is happening to my friend in Almaty. Vera recently wrote to me about her problems with the current administration where she is trying to obtain her MA degree in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

“Just imagine! Still struggling with KIMEP, trying to defend my thesis. They haven’t given MA Degree to anybody from TESOL. This is the fifth (!) year of our study!!! I’m really fed up with the way they treat people at KIMEP.

Our current advisor, who started this program five years ago, is a very difficult person to deal with. He informed us that he would take a leave for half a year. That means that if we don’t defend in May, the defense will be postponed until next Fall. Then another Advisor will be appointed. With his/ her view… And this will be an endless process. I said that I would give up then.”

This is part of what I wrote back to my beleaguered, Kazakhstani friend Vera,

“This is really depressing news! They are more than willing to accept your tuition money for five years but not let you graduate? It would appear that they don’t want anyone in the Language Center to graduate with an MATESOL degree. You have struggled and worked far too long for this obstacle you are encountering to not be recognized by the top levels of management. The university liberally gives out MA degrees in other business departments throughout the campus to people far less qualified than you and your two other colleagues.

Why should they be holding out in the English department except it would threaten those questionable, Kazakh administrators who are on top who don’t have the credentials or know how. I believe it is really unconscionable for your advisor not to tie up loose ends before he leaves for the U.S.  Whoever is at the top with decision-making is not doing the MATESOL program any favors by making it look impossible to graduate with a graduate degree.  Most sad and perplexing.”

Aigerim is right, anyone who takes the initiative to improve themselves, especially with better education are buried under the weight of state controlled bureaucracy. I quake and shudder to think what will happen to the newly minted undergraduates of the new university in Astana once the first batch graduates in 2014. I suspect this newer generation will not be bland in their revolt from the clueless status quo who were Soviet trained but Kazakh lazy. There I said it, let the defense-iveness begin!

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GREAT TRUTHS (Part II)

A continuation of yesterday’s blog entry…What I don’t understand is that I’m being flattered by some of my Kazakh teaching colleagues to give talks which will ultimately help them look good in front of their Kazakh students. Yet at the same time some of these same flatterers will run to my boss and say that I’m not teaching according to the syllabus or something else they deem wrong. Words, words, words!!! Other things that have been said against me have trickled back to me. I must rise above the fray.

Yes, I’m being complimented left and right about how I can lead seminars and workshops for my Kazakh colleagues so these same teachers can passively sit back and take it in while I actively put the talks together.  All the while trying to grade the rough draft papers that are supposed to hit my desk within this week and returned to my <100 students by the end of next week.  (My numbers in my five classes have dwindled somewhat dramatically since I gave out some dismal midterm grades several weeks ago.  I have an average of 16-17 showing up in each class that used to have 20 or more.)

Here is my schedule of speaking engagements and topics that I will deliver before the end of the semester:

Nov. 4, Today – AIWC (Almaty International Women’s Club)– “Violence against Women” with my MBA student from last semester presenting on what she found in our library’s electronic databases.

Nov. 11 Next Wed. – will lead 35 potential MATESOL students in a Computer Lab in a hands-on workshop “How to use electronic databases successfully” (Ebscohost, ProQuest, J-Stor)

Nov. 19 – talk to my Kazakh colleagues about the research I’ve done with my ESL, EFL and American students in the last 15-20 years regarding learning styles, multiple intelligence and temperament sorter inventories.

Nov. 24 – talk to these same Kazakh colleagues about the differences between student centered and teacher-centered paradigms

Dec. 1 – willing to talk to my writing teacher colleagues about student-centered learning and assessment.

But somewhere in all this, what is left of our fall semester, I am supposed to also help with Professional Development and explain to my Kazakh peers about the Internet sources I use, such as Thesis Statement Builder, Citation Builder, Ted.com, etc.  I’m not sure where that will fit into my already packed schedule. I want to have these teachers go to the computer lab to learn this for themselves and USE it.  I would rather teach them how to fish rather than give them the fish.

I didn’t mention that I am in the middle of assembling the 50+ wonderful and beautiful photos I got from my <100 students for a Photo contest that I’m sponsoring.  We (I have four judges lined up) will present the winners at the AIWC Charity Bazaar at Miras School on Nov. 22.  I also didn’t mention that I am in charge of the Book Stall at this bazaar where we hope to sell 1,000s of books, DVDs, CDs and other things at this event on Sunday to help raise money for orphans and pensioners. [BTW, for those who live in Almaty, I’m still taking donations of books, etc. to be sold at this special Sunday event.]

I guess all that I do is for charity and is volunteer work if you tabulate the extra hours that I put in as a teacher at my “westernized” university.  Others know that I am doing front line battle with plagiarist students and also with lazy, unmotivated teacher colleagues who have job security while I don’t.  Other foreigners and some of my teaching colleagues help me do battle in this great land of Kazakhstan. Yes, I’m flattered that I am so needed, yet this reverse flattery of not being wanted reminds me of what Ezekiel encountered:

“…do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house.” 2:6

Yes, I am needed but NOT wanted. I have no contract to teach next semester.  Like I said, I have no job security, NONE!!!

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