My Work, My Shadow

The “Understanding the Rise of China” class is now in the books (they still need to take the final exam). The students have spoken via surveys. Next up: a goodbye dinner tonight for me hosted by my 2 supervisors. Then tomorrow: last day of teaching. Friday is the last day the university will be open before we go on holiday.

On Friday, I’ll be collecting work to grade from the Intro to Research re-sit students and the initial work from the Advanced Research students. Graded feedback will be due 15 business days after school is back in session (January 5). Then I have 2 finals scheduled on January 5th (Global Development Issues) and 6th (China). I then have 15 business days to grade those and return via email.

Crazy thing: If they (Adv Res, GDI, or China students) want to re-sit for those exams (because they failed, missed it, or just want to improve their scores), there will be a re-sit due date designated for the future (e.g. March 1) and then I have up to 15 business days to grade and return those re-sit exams. So plenty of work is following me home. Yikes.

Student Feedback

Today I received feedback about my class Intro to Research Skills. According to the report, “The scores are in color on a scale from 1,0 (being the lowest) to 5,0 (being the highest). Below a 3,0 is red, from 3,0-3,49 is blue and 3,5 and higher is green. The total number of respondents indicates all groups together. In your case, this module was taught by multiple lecturers. The average results are also indicated in the first column.”

Notice that they use “3,0” and not “3.0” – I got used to grading (AKA marking) this way.

While I do not see any red (a good thing), I am curious how this is interpreted by my supervisor. I shall ask.

View From Above

This picture is taken late today as I am waiting for a 4:30pm lecture on the Sinterklaas holiday to begin. I held office hours later than usual  because I knew I would be sticking around afterwards.

Earlier, I had a very good class today talking about ethnic conflicts and focused on the Rwanda genocide. Afterwards, the panicked Intro to Research Skills students are meeting to discuss how to improve their failed scores. While I am trying to be as helpful as I can be, it’s a challenge sometimes to get my words into the conversation as they share their extenuating circumstances as to why they have to re-sit for the assignment. I compare it to trying to save a drowning person who keeps taking you down with him/her. I admit, by the end, they feel better about their predicament. Only 2 more weeks left in the semester.

Colleague Anita & Our Conversations

I completed my first of 3 interviews of this week and I cannot tell you how enriching the conversations have been with this woman who I had the pleasure to speak with in-depth about several topics since only about 2 weeks ago. I have interacted with her before because she is in charge of student surveys and there was a question of where mine were (I had placed them in my supervisor’s office and they had not been picked up for a couple of weeks).

I told her of my amazement of the bicycle in The Hague but was not sure how common it was outside of here and in Amsterdam. She confidently said that it is widespread throughout the Netherlands and that every Dutch citizen will, during his/her lifetime, own 3-4 bicycles. They are not regularly stolen but occur more than you would think. Hard to believe since so many are left unlocked and unattended. She stated that people have a habit of throwing them in the river (or did she call it a canal?) perhaps (after they use it) in order to dispose of the evidence or simply something to do when intoxicated (?).

I was impressed with her preparation for the recording. She took the time to look up the book where the cultural metaphors appeared. After reading some of the authors’ examples, she was tempted to change her answer. I convinced her to go with her first choice on video and she could always email me her second choice (neither choice was the bicycle). I have offered to loan her my book during my remaining days. She also talked of the upcoming holiday on December 5 called Sinterklaas (“our version of St. Nicholas”) and the controversy surrounding its celebration of Sinterklaas’ “assistant” named Zwarte Piet (“Black Pete”) which are basically white guys with their faces painted black and dressed like jesters. Below is a link she sent me to understand the tradition better. Note that it is so controversial that it is being taken to the UN! I have attached a picture of a Black Pete downtown during last weekend, waving at bus riders (yep – white guy in black paint). Tomorrow, a colleague Dave (one of my 3 recordings) will give a lecture about Sinterklaas to exchange students at 430pm local time. I am told by Anita that there will be someone dressed like Sinterklaas and 2 Black Petes to toss candy to the audience. I would like to record the audience’s reaction but I want to get permission first. Overall, Anita has been a delight to speak with. I only wish I could have met her back in August when the semester started. Oh well.

Update on Cultural Metaphor Question

I’m getting quite a few responses to my email about the cultural metaphor for the Netherlands. I have appointments to videotape 3 responses this week. I have received 2 emailed responses while 3 others stated that they are intrigued by the question and want to give it some more thought before replying. Personally, if the question pertained just to The Hague, I am certain that the cultural metaphor would be the bicycle. Hands down. Yet I am not sure how common this is in other parts of the nation. We’ll just have to wait and see. The featured image here includes my son walking in front, crossing the street. Notice the pedestrian crossing vs. the bicycle crossing.
Here is the email message again:
Dear Colleagues,
I am writing to you to request a favor, which would help me tremendously with my Ph.D. project.
The favor: would you be willing to allow me to record your answer to the question below? Unwilling to be video recorded? I completely understand. Yet I hope I can trouble you for a written (emailed) response in its place. The deadline for this answer is 29 December (the day I depart for the US) and I am aware that we will be on holiday after 19 December.
In the book “Understanding Global Cultures”, authors Gannon & Pillai (2010) describe a cultural metaphor as “any activity, phenomenon, or institution that members of a given culture consider important and with which they identify emotionally and/or cognitively, for example, the Turkish coffeehouse and the Chinese family altar. As such, the metaphor represents the underlying values of the culture itself.”
QUESTION: In your opinion, what cultural metaphor best represents the Netherlands? Please explain your answer.
 Length of your response? As long as you need it to be to complete your thoughts. Thus, there is no minimum/maximum word requirement. You may use words only, include a picture, etc. It is up to you. Obviously, there is no wrong answer to this question.
Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for any help.
Rolando Sanchez

Wasn’t Prepared to Be Homeschooling

My son was overwhelmed since the first week of his semester (week of Aug 18). It nearly broke my heart to see him stress and struggle with the avalanche of assignments for 5 classes. He was shocked with 11 quizzes in Week 1 alone. Thus, I was forced to step in and homeschool him (finding a tutor was futile – I tried). It’s not that he did not know the subject but he had no idea on how to manage the workload. Yet even I noticed that the workload was not right, it is insane. We worked until 6am on my birthday trying to meet a deadline (due to the 7 hour difference). Two weeks later, we work until 2-3am on his birthday. I will never forget that. It is too difficult to work ahead since our brain cells are fried from surviving the most recent week’s assignments.

Well, here we are in the last week of his semester and wouldn’t you know it: 10 assignments due today! I have my own deadlines but I have to cut my work for that short in order to help with these 10 assignments. I will share this part of the experience with any and all listeners, especially anyone who might decide to take his/her child with them – this homeschooling took away from my reading, my class prep, my research, even traveling was hampered by this. I did not see this coming. It’s as if I settled in and was prepared to work full-time and research full-time when all of sudden I am told that I must take on the equivalent of a part-time job that regularly finishes late into the night. Grrr….

Yes, I am venting. >:I It’ll be over Friday. I promised him “anything on any menu in any restaurant.” He (we) have earned it.