Friday, June 20, 2008

A New Competitor

Please do not read the inferior blog just created by Tanya Xu.

It is significantly inferior to this blog and any others located on the World Wide Web. It doesn't even have a hyperlink.


  1. Ryan Drost, you are so stupid. Read my blog please.

    "Initial Impressions"

    When I applied for the ESL internship, I thought that I would be taking over the tutoring responsibilities for the summer (that Amherst College students usually have during the school year); I thought I would be assigned to several immigrants, and I would be teaching them English several times a week. But it turns out that the ESL Center needed other things that needed to be done.

    What I have really noticed about my internship, that was different from a lot of the volunteering I have done in the past, was mostly how much integration there was. I have never been granted the responsibility to work on something so holistically: I was asked to design and present several alternate versions of brochures, make a display board, research potential funding/grant opportunities, and redesign a bulletin board. I was really pleased at this, because the ESL Coordinator does not have the programs nor the time to do publicity projects and funding research, and I enjoy being given that responsibility. Also, they needed an intern who was familiar with adobe photoshop. I felt that my work has the potential to be very helpful and sincerely make a difference for the program. In this way, ESL is so different from any volunteering I have done before because I have never, absolutely never, volunteered at a place before where I felt like I could make a meaningful and lasting impact on the program or somewhere that truly needed volunteers' contributions. In all, I was really happy with my first two weeks here. Something I did not like as much was that my supervisors were never around (the ESL Coordinator only works 4 hours a day). I would have preferred more specific feedback, because I would be trying to work on brochures without knowing exactly what sort of thing they wanted to publish.

    My main goals for this summer are:

    1. Working faster and setting deadlines for myself. My job is very autonomous and without supervision for the most part, so sometimes it is easy to slack on my responsibilities. I really want to do a lot in my time here, but I feel like I have been working pretty slowly, and I would like to change that.

    2. Communicate with my supervisor more. I have not been getting a lot of feedback, at least so far, which has been having negative impacts on my work, and part of the reason why I have had to do so many versions of the same brochure. I need to work on asking for very clear direction and opinions from my supervisor.

    3. I would like to come up with something innovative for the program: a new way to do something, a more effective fundraising approach, etc.

  2. you got an honorable mention in this one =)

    "Week 3"

    Well, I worked some more on those same brochures this week. Once the final versions are done, they will be sent to the Director of the Library to be edited again. Then they will go through a 12-person panel... to be edited again. And "edited again" probably means "completely rewritten." The last time my supervisor edited my work, she just circled the whole text and wrote next to it: "rewrite." haha, it was the quickest editing job ever. But I don't really mind because I like that they trusted me with a pretty big task.

    I also updated some citizenship tests online and ran an activity in Thursday's conversation class. I realized that when you are in the teacher's position (well at least for me), you really enjoy students with a personality. I didn't want to make them do something boring, but even a fun learning game is only fun if the students make it funny. My favorite ESL students in the class are the ones who either a) laugh at everything or b) get laughed at by everyone. In a good natured way, of course :)

    I have read about five ESL language teaching books this past week. I have many more to go. It is amazing how many GOOD ideas are in these books. And it is also amazing to me how many of these activities I've done before (in high school, CEOT, this CCE summer program)-- there are many games that are educational and work for multiple other purposes besides ESL. It was kind of cool to see the connections.

    I got some more feedback from my supervisors this week (very good), but I also think I worked slower (very bad!). I'll work on it.

    In terms of goals... well, I want to try really hard to get some audio clips and interviews from some of the immigrants at the Center (my supervisor really wants that but doesn't have the tech stuff). I want to finish The Kite Runner. I also want Ryan Drost to GET OFF HIS LAZY ASS AND DO SOME COMMUNITY WORK!!

    I thought about Prof. Gewertz's speech, a lot. I always think about her speeches a lot. And then I thought about Prof. Babb's question, posed to his Social Anthropology class: "Should the principle teaching of anthropology be the tolerance of everything?" And No. I believe that the answer is no.

    The tolerance of everything seems to be what cultural relativism would suggest. I agree that we obviously not force development projects on people, that we should not start projects if we are not sure of the needs or wants of the people, and that we need to choose our community activities carefully. Sometimes it is hard to avoid condescension when you are wearing a badge with a stupid name tag and serving people at the soup kitchen. But when someone comes in, from another culture BUT has emigrated to the US, and have become part of my cultural framework, and decide they need to learn English, is it wrong for me to accept? I think the answer is no. Teaching English is not necessarily teaching loss of identity or Western superiority. It depends on the context. In the context of the ESL Center, I believe that it is teaching a useful skill to someone of a different culture who is now trying to make a living in my own.


Let us hear your thoughts!