March 20, 2011

Issues in the classroom

This semester I am co-teaching a class on International Relations with another American teacher. I have been teaching the different theories & principles of IR and she would go over different case studies looking at how these theories play out in real life. One week we had a guest speaker come in and give a talk on world view and how your culture, nationality, religion, language, etc effect how you see the world.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the midterm for this class. It consisted of an article with 3-4 questions about the different theories and principles we had discussed in class. However, I was asked by the dep't head to postpone the test a week because the students had complained to him that they didn't understand what was happening in the class. I told him that the previous semester International Relations was team taught with even more speakers to 3rd year students, this class is 2nd year students. Apparently between your 2nd and 3rd year you figure out that everything said in class is relevant for the exam regardless of who the teacher is.

I have no problem with the students not understanding, that is a perfectly normal thing to happen. But why is the teacher always the last to know about it? I have had issues with other classes and instead of asking me questions about whatever they don't understand they complain to the administration. I am led to assume that asking questions of the teacher is not culturally acceptable but I don't really know. Apparently the correct course of action when something is unclear in class is to complain to the highest authority possible. And students wonder why American teachers don't stay in Djibouti.

soap in djibouti

I have noticed a rather strange phenomenon here in Djibouti. Perhaps it is only isolated to my flat but it is perplexing nonetheless. Soap does not lather here. Growing up in the US, working the soap into a nice lather was something that never even entered my mind. In Djibouti, I just get a a nice film of soap on my hands. I've tried different kinds and also soap from the US but to no avail.

This is NOT my soap experience.

March 15, 2011

My Journey into Africa: Pick your Poison

My Journey into Africa: Pick your Poison: "Every culture has 'culturally acceptable' vices. For Americans, binge drinking and massive coffee intake are probably at the top of the lis..."

Djibouti Jones: Djibouti, the Novel

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March 13, 2011

some thoughts on Djibouti

Today my landlord was supposed to meet me at noon to collect the rent. She didn't show up or call so at 1 pm I left my apt. It's hot and the electricity was out so no use sitting in inside waiting all day for something that may not happen.

So here I am at the internet cafe, killing time until, well I guess until the electricity comes back on but I have no way of knowing that until I'm actually at home. As I was walking here I was thinking about the differences between how things operate in Djibouti vs. how things operate in the US. For example

Today I attempted to pay my electricity for either the 3rd or 4th time. The first few times I tried, in February, they told me to come back at the end of the month. It is now Mar 13 so I went back to pay and was told to come back at the end of this month. Previously I have paid my bill every 2 months. For example I paid in September, November, January, and so I naively assumed that paying in March would be the next one. I was wrong. Consequently, I know have no idea when or how often I'm supposed to pay this bill.

So i was thinking about things like this as I trudged through streets. In my limited experience in Djibouti, this is pretty normal. There seems to be little rhyme or reason for a lot of things like bill paying, scheduling, etc. I also thought that perhaps the bus system is the best functioning system in Djibouti. They are always going, they stop everywhere, they almost always give change promptly, they don't overcharge, and they always get to their destination barring an accident. 

Some days I wonder how anything gets accomplished here.

March 10, 2011

Ethiopian surprise

I just returned from about a week in Ethiopia with my dad and little brother. I originally through it was only my dad but my little bro surprised me at the hotel! We hung around in Addis Ababa, went to Awash Nat'l Park and saw animals, ate traditional Ethipian food, and just relaxed. On wednesday I returned to Djibouti with my mini-family in tow. They experienced the sights, sounds, and smells of Djibouti and are heading out this evening. I'm at my normal internet cafe with them right now. I'll put up some pictures of the adventures in Ethiopia sometime soonish.

March 2, 2011

English Club Ceremony

So last night there was a big ceremony at the university put on by the English Club. This club gives students an opportunity to practice use outside the classroom doing things they want to do as opposed to what the teacher wants to do.

The festivities were scheduled to begin at 6:30 but in true Djiboutian form actually started closer to 7:45. What followed were speeches, poems in Arabic, Afar, English, and Somali. Traditional dancing and skits in Somali and English.  

Here's a clip of apparently traditional Afar dancing. EVERYONE should watch this video since it took like 30 minutes to upload with my crappy internet connection