Sometimes I wonder why I’m still working here. I’ve already written about my lack of motivation in classes and my impending return home (which is something I’m about 60% positive about), but I’ve been trying to look past all the negativity and get into teaching and helping my students learn. And then a day like today rolls around.
I was meeting my American Literature class at 2:45 p.m., and a small group was giving a short presentation on The Scarlet Letter. I had arranged last week to borrow an LCD projector, and I was going to bring my laptop for them to use. So 2:45 comes around, and the classroom is locked and the man with the LCD is nowhere to be seen. So I call the guy with the LCD and he told me that it’s broken. I asked him if there was another, and he said no. Then I asked my students if they could present without an LCD, and they said it would be too boring. So we arranged to meet on Friday morning. Then, I went on a quest to find an LCD projector and a free classroom for Friday morning. I went to the library, where they have three LCD projectors available for teachers, but usually one teacher books them everyday for months at a time, and there wasn’t even anyone in the room, so I found nothing there. Then I went looking for the man in charge of a meeting room that already has an LCD projector, and he wasn’t in his office. Finally, in desperation, I went to the new vice-dean of the School of Education, who studied at Bluffton at the same time as me.
She jumped up and agreed to help me. We went to the equipment office, and they said I’d have to type up a formal request in order to borrow a projector (I hate this asinine bureaucracy). Then we went looking for the guy in charge of the meeting hall again, and Nhiem, the vice-dean, pulled him out of a meeting. “They’re repairing the air-conditioning in that room,” he said. So that option was out. Finally I went to my office and just said I would borrow their projector, which is rarely used. Now, I think I’m mostly set for Friday, but we’ll see what happens when it rolls around.
So while administers have computers and air-conditioning in their nice, cool offices and do little or nothing in terms of actual, you know, education, the actual teachers who are trying to innovate and do things a little differently are forced into small corners and have to struggle just to find equipment for effective teaching and learning. Vietnam wants rapid development, and I want it to happen too, but too often the administration is in the past. It’s like that Bob Dylan line:
“Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changing”