Monday, May 31, 2010

closing down

The desk is cleared at work, but I'll probably return next week for a final good-bye. Just couldn't quite do it yesterday.

It's raining, just like when we arrived in August. No real reason to go out this morning. Have to work on packing, on writing quizzes for the online classes opening tomorrow. Shaked's site visit for today was cancelled. Matan went off to school on his bike in a raincoat and with plastic bags lining his knapsack. We'll meet him at school for a banquet tonight celebrating extra-curricular activity participation.

Feeling pretty cutoff about Facebook. Turns out that it's more about the current prime minister getting pissed off about cartoons about her government, than anything about Mohammad. I suspect she's just lost the young base in the country -- there were protests at the universities yesterday. So much for a liberal, modern, secular and digital Bangladesh!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Facebook apparently banned in Bangladesh

Access disappeared last night so if you're used to seeing me there, that would be why I'm not showing up. Odd to me how I've gotten used to contacting and connecting with local folks on plans. No official word, but rumours on google have two leading causes -- one, the caricature contest with cartoons of the prophet Mohammad, and the other that a hacker was arrested recently (not sure how this would result in the national shutdown).

Very disturbing to feel cut off.

Other news -- mostly spending time with Shaked -- lots of it at the pool at the American club. Nice to just relax with her. Sometimes we even see a lot of the people that I'd like to be seeing before we leave! She has several site visits this week and a report to write before she leaves on Friday.

Matan is mostly involved with school at this point. His first exam starts today, but other than that one, they'll be starting Thurs and going through next Tues. I think he enjoyed prom very much.

I'm working on the Century courses. I think the new one is in good shape. Just quizzes to write now. Today I'm going in to finish clearing the office. Last week I was just too sick (yup, again), to complete the task. Finished the teaching and I think it went well. Put together some work on peer review that I'll be able to use in the future, esp as soon as I get back to regular access to a scanner.

Last night we were invited to my officemate's family's for dinner. Both of the kids came with me, though Matan had been sneezing all day and finally fell asleep there for most of the evening. The hospitality was awesome, the welcome really wonderful, the food fabulous. I would love to have spent more time there and really get to know his family. Shaked is going with his younger sister to a street theater production tonight. Yes, the transportation is difficult (I just got a cab for the evening -- it's what I said I would do occasionally when we didn't rent a car, but our earlier experiences with cabs pretty much put us off this option). Tonight his sister is going to come by CNG to pick Shaked up at our apartment and then accompany her to the park where the play is being performed. And then back again -- so she'll be spending hours on the road. Mabye Shaked will bring some pictures! Anyway, I was just so glad to meet them and be welcomed into their home.

Haven't really started packing yet, but got the suitcases out. Gave most of the books I brought to the English Dept library and most of the linens, etc, will just stay here. They're pretty much used up. Not sure what to do with the clothes I've outgrown -- don't really want to bring them all back!

Amanda wrote a great list on her blog about what she will miss. Maybe I need to start my list, too!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

filling in potholes

As I was going through the market by rickshaw...

Monday, May 24, 2010

bubbles and brainstorming

Ok, this I'm posting so I remember where to find it in the future. Working with students who were brainstorming to write about Mary Oliver poems. This site was fun for showing them how to have thesis, topics and evidence to support their claims. I think it will work well in my online composition class.

mantra in 11 words

from Penelope:

One thing at a time. Most important thing first. Start now.

(not endorsing the rest of her post, but crediting this part).

out of town

Shaked has gone to Jessore by bus. About 6-8 hours west towards Kalkuta. She called from a ferry on a river and when she got to the seminar hotel that is hosting them. I'm glad she's not travelling alone.

Wish I'd gotten out to see more of Bangladesh countryside. Yet trying to remember that most weeks I was not very energetic by the time we got to the weekend.

Finishing teaching this week. Last parent-advisory committee meeting today at Matan's school. Thinking about packing and stuff to leave behind.

Here's a good article on digital Bangladesh.

Friday, May 21, 2010

catching up

So far behind on the posting. Mother's Day -- lovely dinner at Tracey's house with other women from the American community and many teenaged kids! Flowers from the hostess to the guests!

Then there was a very, very hot week that I worked mostly at home since I wasn't feeling very well. By Wed, I went back to work at the office and was getting very excited about Shaked's arrival. We would go out to lunches as long as we weren't teaching...

(short elevator lines while students are still on break!)

Shaked arrived late last Friday night (no pictures!) and we had Saturday before her internship really started. Saturday, she wasn't ready to wake up and come to water aerobics at 8am...

She and Matan and I went to the American club for lunch, and some keeping her awake time, and then came back to the apartment. We went over a notebook I have of first impressions and information since she was really in shock about the heat, crowding, just the different place that Dhaka is! She found an introduction from a book I have, maybe I'll add it later.

However, in going over this notebook, we realized she needed to get a vaccination that Matan and I had before coming here. So that became the priority. The travellers' clinic wasn't doing vaccinations this week, so my public health guru, Tracey, recommended a doctor who took us Sunday morning and got her caught up. Later that day she had her first meeting with the people from the company where she's interning. They have prepared an intensive itinerary for her including meetings with IT folks from different NGOs, a visit to Jessore (a six hour bus ride from Dhaka), report writing and interviewing. She's really been immersed from the start!

(maybe even our 5 flights of stairs get a little overwhelming!)

I also started the summer semester of teaching here this week. New students, new classroom, but a familiar syllabus. It's kind of fun to hand out the assignment sheet for the first major essay and know that I'll be done with this two-week stint filling in for their regular teacher before the grading comes up! Also a chance to meet and connect names with a cohort of students I've seen around, but not ever taught. Two of my new students have already seen Shaked and me riding a rickshaw and waved and yelled "Is that your daughter?" because, of course, I told them she had just arrived!

At Dhaba, a restaurant on Road 11, Banani, where I love the fuska. Ok, I pretty much love fuska anyplace.

We ate at Sajna twice this week -- once I asked my embassy contact people, the ones who have taken care of me this year, Shaheen and Katie, to join us to meet Shaked. Didn't know that the department was planning the farewell luncheon for there later in the week!

Raining today which will make getting the laundry dry a challenge. Wouldn't matter much except that Shaked needs to take the clothes when she leaves tomorrow... Mangos on the roof. Must take pictures of the lychees.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


We're getting more ready to leave. I'm deep in the preps for classes that will be taking place in Minnesota, not in Bangladesh. Even though there is a little more than a month left in our stay here, I'm solving problems that will come up in June and July, and answering student emails from those future classes.

Next week, Shaked will be here! She still has a final and a paper, so she's not quite ready to think about packing up. She took her dorm room apart and sent the contents to a storage unit, so she's down to the suitcase and mr. bunny. She'll leave on Wed afternoon and it will take nearly 2 days to get here. She'll spend almost a day in Singapore on the way.

A Dhaka newspaper ran an article today on the Children's Literature conference. If you use a magnifying glass and know what I look like, you can see me in the picture.

Another link to an article on global warming and the threat in particular in Bangladesh.

Looking ahead -- I'll be teaching next week for two weeks as the new semester opens here. Hoping to travel with Shaked outside of Dhaka as I haven't seen much of the countryside. I suppose I should have taken each of those professor's business cards and called and visited and thus met far more people. I'm trying to go easy on myself and remember that many days were just exhausting to get to work by rickshaw and home again. Dealing with laundry and cooking and trying to pay attention to Matan's progress, as well. But now I do wish I'd done so much more.

Returning to MN as program chair in Women and Gender Studies -- it's official! Kind of exciting to think about what I'll need to learn and do.

Not sure what the summer will bring as we re-integrate. On the one hand, I do very much like this feeling of living outside the familiar, and yet, learning that I don't do it easily or push myself beyond a certain comfort zone.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

happy working on Century's online class prep

Working at home every other day or so. Get more done here at home - and bonus today - no construction noises from above. Would be happier not having a cold, but I can't have everything.

Juggling three syllabi. Two are pretty much ready to go and have run well before. The third is new to me and I'm trying to think about the best way to get this material online. Also trying to make it work out so that I'm not ever grading all 30 + 35 + 17 students' work the same week.

Then I might have a situation like in Dhaka -- today's headline was about the university cracking down on "laggard professors" who still haven't turned in grades seven months later. At Century there is currently debate about 24 hours being cut off of the grading deadline at the end of this spring semester. But it's down from 72 hours, not leaving much time for real evaluation of student work.

Looking forward to Shaked's arrival next week, so I have my own deadline for getting these classes prepared. Want to be free to spend as much time as we can together! She's going to be volunteering at an NGO and getting some micro-finance research experience out in the villages. Pretty exciting adventure, I think.

Monday, May 3, 2010

water, water

Starting to rain regularly here - every other day. So the heat is less, and the electricity is on more regularly. Here's hoping that the drinking water supplies improve, too. Our boiled-and-filtered water recently tested as contaminated and we're not sure what the next step is going to be. Maybe boiling and filtering bottled water?

Good article about ORS -- includes BRAC and ICDDR,B.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

spring in Dhaka

I almost skipped Bangla class on Sunday (maybe because I didn't have papers graded?), and then when I got there, to my surprise, there was a festive program set up exactly during my 9-10am timeslot!

Singing, music playing, poems, food -- an introduction of all of the current students, at least the morning ones. I admit I didn't learn to speak much Bangla, but HEED language center continues to show me aspects of living in Bangladesh that I might otherwise have missed out on.

Susan and Sultana

The spring celebration is connected to the new calendar year and also to the onset of the rains. So far, most of the downpours have been conveniently at night, and they really clean up the dusty air and streets. All of the trees look green again. So during this week's lessons I learned the words to the songs that had been sung at the Sunday program and then my teacher went over the facebook entries that were in Bangla -- some I understand, some I completely didn't get! Since I'm getting individual tutoring, I get to choose what I'd like to learn in the lessons!

Last weekend there was a festival at Matan's school with one of the service learning programs. All of the high school students contribute 20 hours (I think) to a project. Matan's has been tutoring English at an orphanage. The festival was put together by a group that works with street kids. Lots of paintings and crafts for sale at the school.

rotunda at the American International School - Dhaka

Finally, pictures of jackfruits. Haven't been here when they're ripe, but I think the time is coming soon. They are huge! Mango season now!

I've turned in grades for the spring semester and have a bit of a break now. I'm preparing the summer semester at BRAC for my TA who will be taking over as the teacher. She's on a medical leave until June 1, so I'll teach the first 2 weeks of that semester, May 15-30. In addition, in the next 2 weeks, I've got to get the Century summer classes posted. They're all online and will start June 6th. Shaked will be here from May 14 - June 4, so the more I get done before she arrives, the more free time I'll have with her!

Today is a low-key Saturday. Get the wash done and out to be ironed (this I will miss in MN!). Water aerobics and breakfast at the club. Later, Tracey and I are going to take our boys to the tailor to get suits made. Not sure if this is for prom or not, but Matan will need a black suit for orchestra next year in any case.

And last, but not least, the cello has found a new home in Dhaka.