9/30/10

Bangladesh: day in the life at AUW

WorldTeach Bangladesh volunteers arrived in Chittagong in August to begin the task of teaching and living at the Asian University for Women with some of the most gifted young women in the region. Below, WorldTeach volunteer Kelsey Bristow shares with us a glimpse of her life as she settles into a daily routine.

"First, remember! The work week here is from Sunday to Thursday. It’s confusing, guys. A Tuesday/Thursday class in the States is the middle of the week. Here a Monday/Wednesday class is the middle of the week! But I’m getting used to it. So, here it is:


photo courtesy of Karin Johnson

7:15AM: Take the van to school (okay, fine, you caught me. I haven’t once woken up for the 7:15 AM van)

9ish AM: Take a CNG (a “baby taxi”) into work and cough up the 50 cents or so it takes to get to school (usually split between another person or two)

10ish AM: Get ready for my Access Academy class.

11-11:10AM: Set up the classroom for class. So far, technology hasn’t failed me (knock on wood). I usually hook up a projector to my computer to use PowerPoint.

11:10-12: On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays I teach my lesson plans/actual academic seminar. On Mondays and Wednesdays I teach the same girls I teach on the other days, but I teach them computers. Also, unnecessary side note – I usually sweat a lot, to the point of gross, wet clothes. And I’m not even nervous! I think it’s just standing up, talking loudly, and moving around the whole time.

12PM-1: Lunch. I eat with the other volunteers. The meal always involves rice – some days awesome fried rice, but mostly just white rice – and a lot of root veggies and chicken or fish. I found that I don’t have the patience to pick the bones out of the fish and after swallowing a few the first time I ate it, I decided to start skipping the fish. They also sometimes have soup! I love soup, so this really adds to my happiness for the entire afternoon. I’m getting used to eating soup/drinking hot tea in the hot weather. I still don’t think it makes much sense, but both the soup and tea are too good here to pass up. Usually we have some sort of fruit at the end of the meal, too – oranges, pears, or bananas. The bananas here are so good. I mean, I didn’t know bananas this tasty existed. It’s awesome

1PM-2:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays: The undergraduate class I’m a TA for. I typically sit there and look pretty and act as a Vannah White character, passing out papers. And it’s awesome! I have office hours for this class where I’ll get to know the students, but right now I’m really enjoying listening to what the students have to say. My role will be largely helping them with their writing, which I’m really excited about. All of them have such excellent and better ideas than I have and it’s just a matter of fine-tuning their language/grammar.

2PM-6: Office hours. I have some open office hours for both my Access Academy class and the undergraduate course I’m helping with. I have 6 hours open to students a week (and of course, like a real college professor, I’m also available by appointment). Otherwise, I’m usually hanging in my office (we got a real office with a water cooler and everything!) or walking to get an afternoon snack/coffee-like drink (what I’d do for a real cup of drip coffee right now…)

6PM-7: Soon, extracurricular activities will start up. I’ll write more about what I’ll be involved in, but right now we’re starting a Film Club and a Women’s Sexual Health Workshop called “Wise Women.” I also want to start an advocacy blog – blogging for a cause, yeah!

7PM: Dinner, which is usually exponentially better than lunch.

7:30PM: Van home.

7:45PM to whenever I go to sleep: I usually spend my nights hanging out at my kitchen table with my roommates and friends doing work. A couple nights a week I go up to a few other volunteers’ apartment and we watch a movie. It’s sort of a really lovely movie night we have going. But besides that, I’m finishing up work (okay, maybe catching up on a little TV, too).

All in all, I’m trying to learn how to be an adult. You know, doing my work at my office and not bringing it home with me. But that’s very difficult, because I get ideas at random times and I like to plan lessons/activities as I get my (brilliant, hah) ideas. I’m adjusting to long days, but I like that each day is different with the various classes I’m involved in.

 photo courtesy of Jessica Barrow

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