Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dinner & Movie

Saturday, 16? October 2010

The librarian invited Sophia, me, and a few other teachers over for dinner and a movie on Saturday night. Her husband picked some of us up; a few teachers walked. Yes, it took them 45 minutes (and they walk fast). I am a bit jealous. I wouldn't mind walking that far, but I know Sophia would.

The librarian is a fascinating person; she is Belgian and was born in Africa. Her husband is American and works for the US Embassy. Together, they have traveled much of the world. They have two teenaged daughters and next year they plan on retiring to Colorado.

Their home is amazing. Sheerly amazing. They live in the same complex as the principal and his wife, and it's nice because the buildings form a circle of sort, with playgrounds, mini parks, and walkways in between the buildings, and mini-marts too. A sort of micro-c0mmunity.

She lives on the 4th and 5th floors--a 2-story apartment. Her first floor is bigger than my place.

They have an entrance way, with a spiral staircase leading to the second floor. They have a kitchen that opens to a a breakfast-nook-type area that opens to the dining room and living room. The windows in the living room overlook the river and the entire new-downtown of the city. All the while facing west, so you can watch the sun set over the city. Perhaps the best view in all of Astana.

Also on their first floor is the formal dining room (currently being used as a storage room) and their daughters' very large bedrooms. Upstairs there is the study, with a small gym in the back, and the master bedroom. As well as the perhaps the best room in the apartment--the cinema. The cinema room contains a large screen for watching movies, plus several large, comfortable chairs and sofas. A bookcase stands in the middle of the room, effectively dividing it into two parts--the cinema in front and the music room in back. The music room contains guitars and other equipment for playing music. A door leads to the sauna.

Yeah, a nice home.

We ate dinner--homemade chili--and dessert, including a yummy grapefruit-like fruit. Then the adults moved to the cinema room while the children stayed downstairs to watch a child-friendly movie on the normal-sized TV.

We watched "The Emperor's Club", a movie starring Kevin Kline as a teacher at a super-wealthy, elite school. The movie excels in its nuances. Nothing dramatic happens, no one dies or is fired. Kevin Kline does not change the life of the slightly-troubled boy he meets. A teacher's life rarely has amazing defining moments, but rather small, nuanced ones. A teacher's career contains successes as well as failures.

Of course, the story of a teacher trying to reach an unhappy student is a great movie for teachers to watch, and afterwards we had a great conversation. The topic changed to other topics in education, and pretty much everyone who had recently taught in the US had horror stories about teaching in the US.

We stayed up very late, but it was a wonderful evening; it was great to have intelligent conversation. And Sophia had a good time too.

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