First Professional Presentation

The day of our presentation. We've been eating breakfast at 7, waking at 6. Our room faces East look out over grazing fields for sheep and horses. The fields have been frosted over these past two days, its that cold. Breakfast is big: cereal and fresh fruit salad, tea with jam and bread, ham, sausage, egg, baked beans, baked tomato, and mushrooms. Juice, too. I finish it without being full; its just enough.

This morning I would remember my vest, scarf, and hat but leave my rain jacket and pants. It would rain in the afternoon. This whole trip is a lesson in "inappropriate clothing"! Jen and I practiced our timing on the walk to the bus, the other Jen timing us with the watch. We go a bit over, but stopped to discuss the details to share or omit. We feel comfortable we'll stay on time.

Today's bus connections were better and we arrive in time for the plenary session of some professor from Korea talking about World Englishes. I come late because I need to take care of the photocopying of our handout. The print shop took care of it right away and I had 50 cut, color bookmarks in 5 minutes. I think i went to a session spelling mistakes by Arabic students. it gave me ideas for doing the same thing with my Spanish students.

At the tea break, Jen and I came to our room to set up. We put bookmarks on each chair, loaded the powerpoint on the computer and made sure the room was a comfortable temperature. Jen said she had trouble sleeping last night out of worrying about this and that for our presentation. I was surprised because she made me rest assured that I would do fine. Perhaps those of us who can comfort others also need to be comforted at the same time.

When we started our presentation the room wsa packed with 50 attendees. One of the Teacher Development Interest Group leaders introduced us, then sat in front of the door. She actually had to turn away latercomers because there was no room for them to sit or stand! Jen and I traded off slides and speeches very fluidly. We stayed within our 30 minute time limit and had 5 minutes for questions at the end.

I experienced for the first time that there is something beyond the author/presenter's content that draws, engages, adn enriches the experience of audience members. Each person brings his/her expectations and filter for information. They didn't necessarily come because I was presenting but because the topic interested or already meant something to them that they brought to filter their perspective for better or for worse. But, by the end, I was associated with their interest. Two to three people stopped me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed it.

One of those people was Andrew Wright. He came to our session as a 13-book author or storytelling. He asked a question about ease of uploading video/photo content to a blog. He wants to create a website for his work. [I actually learned this on Friday, when I went home.] The fact that people want to hear what I ahve to say makes me want to share more!


IATEFL Conference in Exeter, England

Internet access has been few and far between on my trip. I think it as a benefit because I think everyone needs to decompress and disconnect from the Wired world a few times a year.

Since I last posted, I spent a busy day in London seeing the British Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, Brixton's Jamaican community, Harrod's Department Store, and the Greenwich Observatory. More details on those when I can upload pictures.

I took a 5-hour bus (coach as they call it here) ride to Exeter on Tuesday. The rolling hillside of Devon county is quite charming. Hedgerows, sheep, and green fields are quite soothing to the eyes.

We're staying at a quaint country inn, Heath Gardens that is outside of town. Aside from being a hassle to get to and from on the bus, it is a lovely place to relax after a full day at the conference.

IATEFL is the European/UK centred organization for English teachers, so I am out of my element in networking and understanding the on-going conversation. I have eased my way into things, gradually starting to get business cards and make friendships.

As for the city of Exeter itself, I haven't had too much time to explore it. They've recently refinished the High Street (main street) to be a pedestrian mall with bus right of way. I can believe the amount of people on the pavement (sidewalk) for the relative size of town (40,000). This is a pedestrian friendly town. There's a castle and cathedral to explore, so I think I'll get out today to see it. Stay tuned for more!


Snowy Arrival

After 20 hours in transit, I landed at Heathrow airport amidst 4 inches of snowfall and wintery mix. We were delayed in landing because the ground crews were trying to keep up with the first snow of the year: in April! Fortunately my flight was one of the first in, because I would later hear that other flights were cancelled due to congestion.

I made my way out to Woking Station where my college friend Miranda picked me up. We relaxed at their home in Godalming (what an old English name, eh?). Then we went to a Principia Club function in Weybridge featuring the CEO and interim president of the College and Headmaster of its k-12 School. The school's been through a rough period, so this was kind of a clean slate PR stop to let everyone know that things are on the up and up. Of course when 4:00 came around, we had tea and cakes. Yum yum, but I didn't get some because many people were keen on talking to the random Yank who showed up. I found it interesting too that I would be in town from California for such a local meeting.

We retired home for a light dinner of French cheeses, Marmite (first time, conservatively spread on buttered toast = palatable), Pate, and tea. Miranda's mother is in town from her home in the French department of Dordogne. She showed me pictures of her country cottage where she lived for 10 years without electricity or running water, by choice! Now it's done up with wiring and a swimming pool to boot!

I showed pictures of my family and places where I've lived, as well as the obsolete British Pounds I'm carrying around from my girlfriend's 1997 stay in Sheffield and my mother and aunt's 1965 European Tour. The 1965 1-Pound notes evoked colorful stories from Miranda's mum about how much that could buy back in the day: a tank of gas, a Christmas extra gift, compared to now when it won't even buy a Liter of gasoline (yes, Americans we complain about gas approaching $4/gallon; over here it is already over $8. Get over it and get efficient!)

After 3pm I started nodding off. Now it's 10:30 and I'm tuckered out. An early day tomorrow where I'm going to Bank of England to exchange the old 10 Pound note, many have told me to keep the 1-Pound notes for their potential worth 40 more years in holding. Stay tuned for pictures.


You Make My Day

Last month, my blog was given the "you make my day" award by Geoffrey Philp, a Jamaican author whom I've met through blogging and from whom I have learned a lot. I believe the original award was conceived (or at least given to Geoffrey) by Lady Roots. The guidelines for the award are:

1. Write a post with links to 5 blogs that make your day.
2. Acknowledge the post of the award giver.
3. Display the You Make My Day Award logo.
4. Tell the award winners by commenting on their blogs with the news.

Here are the blogs that make my day:

Musings of an International Nomad: My friend Verity is teaching at a girls' school in Harare, Zimbabwe. South African by birth, Verity has chosen to work in a crumbling country with 100,000% inflation to make a difference for at least one student. Her blog is a vital link to a country in the midst of a tumultuous election.

Turtle Vision: Nicole frequently posts her artwork and musings on topics that give richness to life. It is always comforting to visit her webpage after a stressful day.

Pickeled Eel: another blog friend whom I've met through the blogosphere. He's based out of Sydney, but has traveled to Iraq and beyond to bring interesting stories to his viewers.

Deceleration of Time: Erinn, or Madeline as she is known is some circles, is a JET teaching in rural Shikoku. She takes me back to a great year that I also spent in Japan.

Wanderings: Jenn is an English Language Fellow in Estonia. Her blog post titles are often flooded with the vowels and umlauds of Estonian, but her entries are always ripe with reflection.

This blog entry marks my return to the craft, after almost 2 months of trying to keep up with everything else in my life! Later today I'll be flying to England for a conference of English teachers. Finally, I get to blog internationally again. Stay tuned to a flurry of postings and pictures!

Countries I have visited

Where I've been in the USA