Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Tutoring and Normality

It's been quite a week, and on top of being incredibly busy I haven't felt much like writing. That's not to say I've been depressed, because I haven't. I just haven't had the patience to sit down and write. I'm watching world events very closely and find it fascinating to see things unfold as time goes by. I've often thought the next big global conflict would be between the Christian-based world and the Muslim-based world, and now it appears as if that is what is looming ahead of us now.

World events aside, I'm going to spend a little bit of time writing about the weather here. Winters in the Czech Republic are supposedly very cold, snowy, and cloudy. From what I've seen so far, this is probably the truth. Our first two weeks here were very nice. It was sunny and warm. Then suddenly clouds settled in over the city, it began to get colder, and it started raining incessantly. I'm now convinced that my wisest investments just before I came here were my gore-tex shoes and my storm jacket. They have kept me warm and dry when others were cold and wet. Basically the daily weather consists of: cold and rainy in the morning, rainy and slightly warmer in the afternoon, and cold and rainy at night. This is, of course, an exaggeration, but not much of one. Today, however, the weather has been extraordinarily nice. We woke up with clear skies, then a little bit of fog drifted in and drifted out, and it has been only partly cloudy for the rest of the day. We relish the sun here because it's become rare for us to see it. It reminds me of Tennessee at times.

So enough about the weather, let's talk about tutoring. Last Thursday I had my first tutoring
session with a family. There are two parents, as is traditional in Czech families (as if it weren't in families of other countries...). The father is Mathaus, and the mother is Daniela (I think...). They have two children: Lukas 12, and Lucie. (pronounced Lu-cahsh and Lewt-see-eh) I'm not
sure how old Lucie is.

I enjoyed this tutoring session enormously. They are a very nice family, and I get to go to their house to spend three hours with them each Thursday evening. I spend an hour with Lukas, which is what they see as the most important reason for me to be there. He wants to study at an all-English school, which is where Lucie is going right now. In order for him to get in, his English must be good enough. Then I spend an hour studying with the parents, an hour which I think they want to be mainly conversation so they can improve their speaking ability. They don't like studying grammar, which is fine with me because I don't like teaching it. After studying for two hours, they feed me. This past week we had traditional Czech dumplings with a cheese sauce of some sort. Daniela actually prepared a special portion of sauce for me because I'm vegetarian and they had chicken in their sauce. She knew about my being vegetarian beforehand, so she was well-prepared for my arrival. These tutoring sessions promise to be very interesting as the year progresses.

The family also plays golf, apparently to the point of worshipping it as a god, (hmmm, do I know any other people like that...?) so I'm sure they'll want me to go with them eventually. Given the fact that the only time I've played golf was by illegally sneaking onto a golf course at night when there was no light and whacking the ball around with more than a hint of randomness, playing with this family could make for some very adventurous outings.

Things here are basically back to normal now, if you can call living in a city normal for someone from a small town in Tennessee. We're still having fun teaching our classes. There are a few beginners' classes that teachers are having problems with due to the students' complete lack of knowledge of the English language. It can be very slow going for those classes. I'm lucky that my beginners have some semblance of understanding the structure of the language. They also have a decent vocabulary, so I'm able to explain most things with minimal effort.