Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Talent Identified!

Wow this job is going to keep me busy.  There's some people on this campus have the most monotonous, ridiculous jobs but after a few days of this, I might be beginning to trim the grass between the cobblestone path with giant scissors or maintain miles of road with just a wisk broom.  Just kidding- it's going to be hard to keep up with these kids but they're amazing and time flies when working with them.

Sunday was arrival day for the parents, which actually went incredibly smooth.  It was fun to meet all the families- the parents all wanted to take pictures of their children with me to send to their grandparents.  Some of the other instructors got grilled by parents who wanted to know everything their children would be learning and why.  (The poor Myths & Legends instructor- that course is one of the only humanities classes and for many, it wasn't their top choice.  Indian parents have never heard of a course like that being offered so Jimi's had to work hard to justify his existence).  Since my class was one of the first to fill, everyone in there wants to be there, except for one girl whose parents picked this course because they want her to like physics and right now "her interest in physics is rather low".  When I asked them to write about why they chose this course one said "because I like physics more than video games" which made me laugh and one said "I want to learn and be a more independent and clear-thinking person when I get back.  I also want to meet other talented students and make good use of these 21 days" which indicates how ambitious and mature these students are (even though they can be incredibly silly and true to their 7th grade age- my students are mystified by the "lift" (elevator)).

Some of my co-workers in front of the academic building where I teach

Anyway, I digress, so after an action-packed opening day, the instructors elected for Dominos Pizza at the food court for dinner.  It was nice to get away from Indian food and crazy children figuring out the Floating Restaurant for a meal.  For some reason, the Dominos guy thought I'd be an excellent person to practice spanish with so I was doing the best that I could to keep up with his "como estas?" and such that he learned from some recent Spaniards.

Then classes began!  I guess homesickness is more of a problem here than in their domestic sites but all of my kids are so excited to be here.  The talent search started with 44,000 students nationwide and multiple rounds of testing narrowed it down to 102 students.  Supposedly, schools put the accomplishment of these students on bulletin boards and even local newspapers wrote something up about them going to this camp.  So they are little local celebrities and it's just adorable how grateful they are- they've thanked me every day before leaving the class.  In general, they're so respectful it's almost absurd.  They kept asking what they should call me and I said "Katie" (all of the instructors agreed to go by their first names).  Their eyes bugged out of their sockets and jaws dropped in shock because they are used to having very formal relationships with their teachers.  They still refuse to call me anything but ma'am, except when we were playing Introductory BINGO.  They habitually stand when they answer a question.

The first day, we blew threw everything I planned an hour ahead of schedule but fortunately I had back-up.  None of the students admitted to knowing anything about scientific notation but after introducing it, I started to do a sample problem to explain how to add two numbers using scientific notation.  Before I finished the one example, they figured out how to subtract, divide, multiply and exponentiate numbers in scientific notation.  I honestly think the only thing every student had trouble with was using a calculator (since it was the first time for most).

The second day I came prepared with tons to do and introduced trigonometry for the first time which was new for all of them.  We made inclinometers to measure the heights of distant objects, did a role playing brainstorm and wrote design proposals for interesting challenges.  When the girls were leaving for lunch, one said "I'm having so much fun and we're not even building things yet".

So that's nice to hear and hopefully will provide motivation to keep up.  The printing and copying situation makes planning even more important since we're supposed to request copies 24 hours in advance (which means I'd ideally be two days ahead of these brainiacs... that's not going to happen).  I did take a study break for a nice walk and talk with a new couchsurfing buddy Mayukh.  He basically convinced me that I want to move to Nepal, where they calculate the nation's worth with a happiness index and everyone has a nice car and good education.  Both of us were just taking a break from the work we should be doing so hopefully we'll hang out more later.

In the meantime, I'm trying to stay hydrated (I've been drinking over 5 L of water a day but you could barely tell), keep my motorcycle burn from advancing to a point where my leg needs to be amputated and hoping that my voice will hang in there with these anti-malarials.  Already I sound like a husky chain-smoker who sometimes squeaks.  Awesome.  Adios!