February 7, 2009

2/7/09 Happy Birthday #51

As part of our social outreach, the English department is starting on a project to make a series of Beginner English books with cassettes or CDs to distribute to those who can't come to our English classes for any reason. We know their are single mothers who work but between family and their jobs don't have a spare minute to improve themselves or their situation. We have an active prison project and we want to help some prisoners learn English so they have a better opportunity to find employment once they get out. And there are probably a half dozen other areas we hope to use the books. But in order to do that, we need some way of paying for the printing costs and making the audio tapes/CDs.

With that in mind, we had an English Book Sale last weekend. I think the center has been collecting these books for some time. About three quarters are fiction, mostly those kind of books travelers take with them to wile away the hours in transit in distant lands. But we do have some college textbooks and some business books. I went through our English departments collection and pulled out any duplicate grammar books we had. I just want the books out where they will be used. This first sale was to our students here at the center and in a couple of weeks, we'll have another sale open to the public. We raised about $55 so far and I hope we top out over $100. That would really get us started.

I think almost everyone who gets old enough just starts to take our birthday for granted. It really is just another day, nothing special. Except to those around us. The staff surprised me yet again on Friday with two wonderful birthday cakes. And all week my students dropped off little things, a box of chocolates, a new coffee mug, a leather key chain, and even a CD of traditional Mongolian singing. For my class on Saturday, Junie who is also the daughter of one of the guards here, got up and led the whole class singing happy birthday. It was such a sweet gesture.

Any excuse for cake! Happy Birthday Jim!

But it was a long day. Besides teaching my Intermediate-2 class, I also had two movie showings. We show movies every two weeks, one in the afternoon and another in the early evening. Since this is White Month, where theme on the Education TV is Buddhism, we are showing Little Buddha and in two weeks, Seven Years in Tibet. It's a great opportunity for students to not only hear the dialogue but also to read the English subtitles (instead of the badly dubbed versions). We almost packed my classroom for the afternoon showing and again filled the Cafe to capacity for the evening show.

The only glitch came during the evening show when the sound system kept shorting out after the first five minutes of the movie. No matter what I did, it would come on for about a minute, then the breaker would trip. I got it all working when luckily I realized that we had a boombox with speakers that could work. So, the show went on from there flawlessly. So a long day ended successfully.