Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teacher's Day - Friday, 2 October, 2009

Teacher's Day
After lunch we went to the cafeteria, where we were seated to watch the "concert" in honor of Teacher's Day. There were a few rows of chairs in the center of the cafeteria, facing an open area with a microphone where the performances would be. Loud children were seating in the booths along the side of the cafeteria. I watched one bored girl bang her braids on a table over and over.

Most of the children were dressed in the uniform, but a number of them were dressed up for the performance. The dancers were second grade boys and girls, and the girls were dressed in puffy white dresses, perhaps similar to communion or bridesmaid dresses. The dresses did not match each other, and one child was wearing a pink dress. The shoes were interesting--there was no uniformity amongst shoes, some wore dirty, casual shoes, and some wore brightly colored socks that clearly mismatched. The boys were in suits. These children danced a ballet-like dance, and it was very cute and very sweet.

The rest of the performances were various students singing, reciting, or dancing. Almost all of the talking was in Russian. At one point, six students stood in a line, the first two recited something about how wonderful teachers are in English, the next two recited in Russian, and the next two in Kazakh. The English was heavily accented and memorized, but they were proud of their English. "A teacher is like the winter," one girl said, "while it's cold on the outside, it is warm and welcoming in the classroom." (Or something like that.)

The Russian girl in Sophia's class sang a song, softly and hesitantly, while the audience clapped loudly to the beat.

During the performances, most of the children on the sides were not listening, were bustling and whispering, and the parents and teachers seated in the rows in the center were not much better. At one point, the principal's cell phone rang and he answered it. No one seemed too upset over the noise and inattentive audience; speakers and singers spoke and sang right over the noise, never trying to call attention.

I noticed that while the majority of the students were Asian, there were plenty who were Caucasian-looking--Russian, most likely. I also noticed the great disparity in sizes. Our principal is shorter than me; our vice principal, a Russian woman, is taller than me. The children varied greatly in size and few were as stick-skinny as many American children are. (Which is odd, considering how un-skinny grown up Americans are. But American children tend to be stick-skinny or overweight. Very few of these children were stick-skinny, some were round with baby features, but none were overweight.)

After the performance, there was a tea for the teachers. I sat next to the American teacher, who does not like tea, and near the principal. The staff at the school is rather small--one very long table held us, although some were missing. The English-language teacher who sat across to me was sitting next to his six year old daughter, who attends the Turkish language primary school here.

The American and I are the only native English speakers in the entire group, and quite a few of the staff members speak very little English. The Canadian teacher is fluent in English, however she was born elsewhere (Philippines, I think) and still has an accent. The children, of course, do not know much English--they have only had Miss Christy to teach them for the past month, nobody else with good English. The parents, I have learned, are paying quite a bit of money for this school, by Kazakh standards, and are rather frustrated (understandably!)

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