12 December 2004

Travel Opportunities

I'm spending a lot of time in taxis lately, going to & from lessons. My school has quite a few corporate clients who can't be bothered to come to Poznan, so the teachers get sent to them. This means that I get to go back to Walcz every Wednesday (2 hours one way) and teach for 6 hours. I try not to think about the fact that the whole reason I moved to Poznan was to get out of Walcz.

It also means that I get up at 5am every Thursday for a 40 minute drive to a company that makes plastic packaging. I'm still not clear on why these people need to learn English, and why it has to be at 7am, but the company pays for the lessons, so I don't question it.

Last week, on the way back to Poznan, the driver asked if he could stop at a butcher shop to buy some sausages. Apparently it was on the way, and they have really good meat. We weren't in a hurry, so we said OK, but it was a very odd request, definitely a first for me.

05 December 2004

Polish Education

This is the weekend I have my classes at the university, in pursuit of my MA degree. 4 classes every 2 weeks, not a terribly demanding schedule, but there's a lot of reading. Anyway, 2 of the classes are lectures, in the true sense - the prof speaks, we write it down. No interaction, no discussion, a lot of "let's write it" and a slow repetition of the same thing 5 times so we can get it word-for-word.

Anyway, in my applied linguistics lecture the prof was talking about linguistic imperialism, specifically English. Apparently, the reason it's so difficult for me to learn Polish is because I view my culture (American) as dominant to Polish culture. It's easier for Poles to learn English because their culture is submissive. This was stated as a true fact, supposedly supported by research, though she didn't get too specific on that point.

But wait, there's more. She went on to talk about the attitude behind the British Council, which views itself as a savior of other countries, swooping in to share the English language and culture, and then mentioned Peace Corps in the same breath, completely omitting the major difference between the two organizations - Peace Corps was INVITED BY THE POLISH GOVERNMENT.

I managed to hold my tongue through the lecture, manily because I just wanted it to end, but I did go up & speak with the prof afterward, just to be sure she was aware of the difference. Turns out, she was, she just wanted to wake up the students & get them interested in pursuing the topic. Which would be great if we weren't dealing with Polish students, who write down everything they're told & memorize it. Sadly, the majority of students in this country don't know how to think for themselves & reason things out, they only know how to remember what they've been told & regurgitate it on the exam.

But now she knows I'm there - she had been unaware there was a foreigner in her class. I'm interested to find out what she says next time. And I'm actually kind of glad she didn't know about me before - it's interesting to hear what people say when they don't know you're one of the imperialists.