Monday, July 13, 2009

And the real work begins

First day of lectures. I was apprehensive but the group was a manageable size – 14 students, a mixture of men and women, a good number of lay people, including two doctors. After introductions we got down to business. I think most of them appreciated what we are doing. Certainly a number joined in the discussion in the afternoon. This is a step up from my group last year.

I was teaching from 9am to 4pm with some breaks (see below). it felt a bit gruelling!

One of my students is a doctor from a medical centre that a friend of mine used to work at and I have discovered that it is literally two doors down the road. This is why the junction near the college seemed vaguely familiar – I have been here before!

It runs from 4pm-7pm offering services mainly to poorer people who can't pay for medical treatment. So I’m going to visit tomorrow afternoon after classes.

The system here is slightly odd. Each class has a monitor appointed who’s job is to help the lecturer. They will get hand outs from the office and distribute them to the class. Mine has decided that I need help remembering when the breaks are due and so has got a bell which he pings loudly, grinning broadly, when I need to stop.

Another thing I’m struggling to remember is that when a Sri Lankan agrees with you, they shake their head from side-to-side. To move the head up and down means disagreement. So when I nod and say ‘yes’ people get confused. Body language is so culture specific!

I went for a walk along the Galle Road after class in search of a supermarket. I was determined to buy my own cornflakes (I’ve run out). About half a mile or so down the busy drag I duly found one and got bread, milk and cornflakes for just over 500 rupees (a bit under £3). I think things are more expensive here than they were. But I walked back in the sunshine (pretty hot) feeling really chuffed that I'd managed to negotiate such a complex task!!

Tonight I have eight assignments to read. Most of the students were completely daunted by what I set them, an assignment I thought was fairly straight-forward. I asked them to write too many words (2,500 – is that unreasonable for a post-grad assignment? Not in England but probably it is when English is your second or third language!) and – apparently – the reading was hard. But the hardest bit was that I asked them to reflect on their own experience and how what they were reading – on the supper in 1 Corinthians 11 – might make them think differently about the way they do meals at their church. Ah well. We’ll see what they make of it.

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