Thursday, 21 May 2009

GX Week 6

Sorry that this has taken such a long time. I've been busy.

Monday 27th April

Was kept busy at Catch 22 today, marking initial assessments, sorting out and finding answers to practice papers, planning a half an hour lesson on scale, perimeter and area and looking for news items with interesting images.

Tuesday 28th April

Semi-delivered another session on scale, perimeter and area with the usual degree of failure. Turned around at one point to find three quarters of the class missing. The evening brought with it a nice meal of potatos and chicken cooked by Gulnara and another MPR meeting. With the travel and accommodation sorted we started to work on what topics we would cover over teh two days and how we would cover them. However todays main news is that one of the male UK volunteers chose to leave the programme. It didn't come as a massive shock as the rumour mill had been turning for a few days now but it still wasn't something I expected. I wish that volunteer all the best with whatever they decide to do next.

Wednesday 29th April

Some of the learners situations really got me thinking today. I could also be found reflecting on how differently people mature. Compared to some people and especially the learners I feel very mature and well developed as a person, but then I look at some other people on the programme and the young staff at Catch 22 with jobs and homes and partners and I feel so immature in comparison. Though I love travelling and volunteering I feel a need to grow up.

Thursday 30th April

Spent my whole time at Catch 22 today feeling dazed and confused. Maybe because I spent the morning updating the job folder rather than listening to what the learner were going to be doing all day. Had much fun being threatened with death each time I pointed out where a capital letter was needed while helping a learner do their CV. I have stupidly agreed to take part in a display of african drumming and dancing at the Stortford music festival this weekend. My performance is really nothing to write home about although I do pretty well with the bell like the kid at school whose only allowed to use the triangle. Worries me that apparently my role is keeping time for everyone.

Friday 1st May

Kate and Dina's GCD on religious diversity. The mystery of why one of the volunteers left was answered and I was disappointed to learn that we won't be getting a new volunteer. I had been amusing myself greatly for the last few days over the possibiliy of a hot new male volunteer. I'll just go through what we did on the day without going too deeply into my views on established religions or my own personal beliefs. It would just be an invitation to arguement which I really don't have the time for. First we discussed and learnt the difference between religion (refers to the institution or organisation of people with faith), faith (refers to the personal loyalty someone has to their belief/god/gods), and belief system (refers to someones view of the world and values which may or may not relate to religion). We looked at the percentages of people practising various religions in Kazakhstan and the UK. The predominant religion in the UK in Christianity (71.6%) and Islam in Kazakhstan (just at 47%). We looked at statistics showing the declining numbers of people in the UK belonging to a religion and attended services. Observing a massive drop of 16% between 1970 and 1983. Personally I blame Thatcher. Next the team discussed their own view on religion including their personal faiths or lack of. It was really interesting to hear that no two views in the team were the same. We spent the afternoon visting both a Christian church and a mosque. Obviously for me visiting the mosque was the most interesting. It was not what I expected at all. Rather than a purpose built building we found a carpeted old sports hall with a curtain 2/3 down the middle and the basketball hoops still on the walls. We (the girls) listened to a talk from behind the curtain from teh male educational advisor which was a very strange and rather unnerving experience. We relaxed alot more once the female speaker arrived and spoke to us face to face. We learnt that women and men are divided in the mosque to to prevent distractions during prayer to god. It was very interesting to hear the opinions of a Muslim woman. She was very happy with and proud of her faith, explaining that under Islamic law any money a woman earns is hers to do with as she will. No matter how much she earns her husband must provide her with food, a home and clothes. She said that made her feel very safe and secure. She explained her belief that women should cover their hair and bodies as to save their beauty for their husband. She feels that she gets more respect from all men for presenting herself in this way and shes probably right. You'd be unlikely to find a builder wolf whistling at a woman covered up. She did admit that she felt that Muslims should integrate with the community more so as to dispell many of the stereotypes people hold.

Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd of May

Stewarded at the Bishops Stortford Music Festival this weekend. It was very fun. The amount to actual stewarding we had to do was minimal. I got to watch all the headliners including apparently rising stars 'Official Secrets Act'. I still have 'I like her, she likes me' stuck in my head. Rubbish but catchy. We bumbled our way through two embarrassing performances of African drumming and dancing, during which I was ordered to stop playing the bell as I had messed the timing up. But we did attract a few people over to our Global Xchange tent, a huge wooden A-frame structure that took ages to put up hidden behind the Indie/Rock tent. My GX achievement for the weekend was giving a flyer to a girl interested in taking a gap year. I realised that litter picking is certainly not my calling in life especially when drunk chavs throw beer cans at you expecting them to be picked up and we had much fun with some manikins.

The legendary GX Tent

Gulnara and I in African costume with Ilma, our host mother.

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