Tuesday, July 04, 2006

the LIP boys

I'm currently teaching a program called LIP, Language Improvement Program, to 37 students. Most students are currently teachers in government English medium schools, but I also have four guys in the class. Two are in the army and two are currently studying for their Masters. It's an interesting dynamic with 33 girls and only 4 guys, but the guys have bonded together and help make the class fun....although sometimes at the teacher's expense!

A quote from class:

Ms. Michelle (me) - "Okay so who decided they wouldn't want to study in Australia?"

(All four boys and two girls raise their hands. I call on the girls first. )

"Because why study in Australia when I can study English here?"

"Well, why go to Australia? I'd rather go to Canada where my sister lives."

And the boys, "We don't want to go to Australia 'cause we have a pretty teacher from America right here!"

Everyone laughs. The boys proudly smile at their response. I laugh, most likely turn a little bit red at embarrassment, and say "Okay, on the next question...."

During our game day last friday, one of the boys proved to be a real smooth talker. We were playing a game from "Whose Line Is it Anyway?" where there are three guests with interesting identities or strange problems. The "host" of the party needs to guess what the guests are struggling with. We had one girl who thought she was a fish outta water, an elderly woman on the verge of death, and a supermodel. All the girls were great actresses, I was quite impressed! The supermodel girl walked in fixing her hair and kept talking to Ejaz, the host, about how she wanted to become more and more beautiful and famous. He assured her, "What are you talking about? You are already the most beautfil girl in the world? There is nothing you can do to become more beautiful. Does anyone have a mirror?" The class roared in laughter.

Although my students are all out of college and at least in their twenties, it's like teaching 7th graders when it comes to boy-girl relations. The boys always sit in the corner by themselves, and anytime anyone mentions the opposite sex, marriage, or anything of that sort, the class erupts into giggles. The boys have a good time with this, although they can get embarrassed as well. Today we were talking of our "future plans," and the boys were embarrassed to say that they hoped to get married. Only one of them, who said he planned to do a Masters and establish his own business first, would admit he wanted to get married and have children in the future. This put all the girls laughing and refusing to look him in the eyes in case he might be interested in them. This dynamic is amusing for the foreign teacher, but many times I have to steer clear of topics that I would easily be able to use in the American classroom. Also, many times I try to avoid topics on dating and the like, the students are so preoccupied thinking about it that every topic comes back to the opposite sex anyways. In order to avoid any proposals myself, I've taken to telling everyone in this country that I'm already engaged. This has saved me from being proposed to by uncles, men already with a few wives, strange boys who pay someone for my number, and having my marriage arranged by friends to their son, grandson, nephew or whoever. Upon meeting me everyone always asks, "Ap shadi hai?" are you married? It is crazy for them to think of a 23 year old girl travelling the world, not living in her parents house, and not yet being married with a few kids! One of my friends is a 34 year old single guy, he gets even more grief than I do for not being married yet. Students can barely carry on with their lessons because they are all dying to ask him why he has not taken one, two, or four wives yet. Oh the amusement that gender segregation brings to the co-ed classroom. :)

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