Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Today is the "hump day" of the busiest three weeks since I graduated from school. It began last week, when I had class every day of the week because of classes I had to reschedule. Then on Friday I went to the English Language Teachers Association (ELTA) conference in Belgrade. I gave my presentation on teaching American culture through media - it went pretty well. The high point of the conference was when I was manning the U.S. Embassy booth together with one embassy staffer. Our booth featured materials for English teachers published by the U.S. Government and TESOL. The two of us stepped away to get a coffee. When we came back, the booth had been totally ransacked. Almost all of our books, brochures, and CDs had been taken by random strangers unaffiliated with the conference. Half a dozen elderly Serbs were clustered around, searching under the table where our personal possessions were, asking if they could take copies of various books even though they didn't speak, much less teach, English. One man insisted on his right to a book with pictures of the Statue of Liberty, on the grounds that he went there once. Back from ELTA to another week chock-full of classes. Then this afternoon Meaghan and I gave a presentation at the university to a group of (mostly) primary-school teachers. We spoke about ways of motivating kids to learn to read and write. It was great fun and involved storytelling and artwork. Tomorrow I'm off to Lithuania to speak at another conference. I'll be there until Monday, arrive in Belgrade at 8 Monday night, in Kragujevac probably around 11, and then leave Kragujevac at 5:45 Tuesday morning for a trip to south Serbia. I'm speaking at the American Corners in Vranje and Bujanovac, and the Bujanovac staff has offered to show me the Serbian high school and the Albanian high school, and introduce me to the mayor. I hope I'm awake enough at that point to shake his hand. I'll fill you in on everything when I get back. Look for an explanation of why academic egos are like the wild dogs of Kragujevac.