I have tried to get online today through the laptop but I have not succeeded,
but Andy from the university was able to provide me with some very useful
dialling information. I will try again later because I really do want to
get on-line. I must have loads of emails to check.
I have found out more about the course structure and where I fit in. MIT will
definitely run degree courses for four years. The education system is changing
so the current year are actually do a preliminary year before starting the
four year programme. Some of the courses from this year may be offered to
next years students, but alongside their first year.
I need to develop and deliver the preliminary courses which will be in things
like Word. Yeukk. Just what I didn't want. However, it looks like I will be doing
more in the way of support, which will be interesting if the machines are mine
to look after, but I will need to find an apprentice. Passing on skills is a
vital part of VSO.
At the moment, I think that I have complete freedom in the development of
the courses for this year (they might not be used again). However, there will
be a lot of courses. I believe that I will need to develop the next two years
worth of courses, but I doubt that I will be able to do anything with the
final two years courses. MIT has, quite sensibly I think, decided not to offer
a modular program at this stage. Students can choose one of four programmes,
such as electrical, or computing, and then the courses are fixed within that
I had my first session with the students today. They are mostly fresh from
high school (about eighteen or so), although there are several older
students. The campus is predominantly male (6 girls, 99 boys). I hadn't
arranged anything special, I just wanted to introduce myself and get them
talking. I wanted to get them up and discuss what they had learned. I
picked on some of them and out of four only one of them was too shy
to speak. I didn't push it because the style I would normally use in the UK
is quite different to how most of them will have been taught in the past.
VSO normally tell you to ease into a placement but I am going in a little bit
harder than most.
As I was about to go over to the session with the students at 16:30, I heard
a rumbling from outside. I thought it sounded like thunder but I dismissed
it and just assumed that it was the wind running against MIT's architecture.
But, it was thunder and while walking across to the classroom I got a little
bit wet. The rain wasn't heavy at all, there were a few large drops but it
has cut the dust down quite a bit. This is a little bit early for the small
rains but, according to the VSO director, it is not unusual for them to
come now. Later this evening, the VSO driver said that I was 'lucky' because
I had brought the rain with me. I hope is true and there is a enough rain
following me to break the drought.
In the evening I was due to go into town and was waiting for the driver to
turn up when a couple of students came over and started talking. Again, it
wasn't long before I had a whole crowd around me. They were impressed with my
one word of Tigrigna, and the few words of Amharic. They were interested
in VSO and seemed surprised when I handed them my VSO ID card and could read
that I was paid a local salary. They were also quite interested in the UK
and universities and other stuff. Maybe they were being polite, or maybe they
really are just bored. The campus is pretty small and entertainment limited.
For breakfast I ate with the students in their canteen. Breakfast was one
white roll (quite dry) and some injera that had been cut up and already had
its sauce (fasting) on it. It was alright but I am glad that I had plenty
of water with me.