Tuesday, January 8, 2013

*Actual beauty of Astana may not be included.

I have been hired to work at Nazarbayev University in Astana! Named after Glorious Leader Nazarbayev (who graciously doesn't demand everything be given some variant of his moniker) and set on the outside edge of beautiful* Astana (see? When he renamed Akmola, it didn't become Nazar City...), NU is home to literally tens of students. It is the most prestigious Kazakh university, though, and I know this because that's what everyone has to say about it.

Students here do no get a 12th year of school, at least not currently. I think their ministry of education is trying to change that, but the result of not getting a 12th year is that they have an extra year of college that helps serve as a transition. During this year, the students are put through a (presumably) rigorous intensive English program to try and get their skills up to par, but after that year, they are assumed to be functional or self-sufficient enough to manage without classes. When that system fails to get the students to where they need to be, that's where we will come in.

 I will be a writing tutor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, which includes the economics and international relations departments. Of course, I don't have much of a background in any of those things, but I do have a background in academic writing, paper editing, and working with students to improve their skills. It's not a perfect job, but it is a job, and it's something I'm good at.

Most of what I will be doing will be the forty-five minute "tutoring" sessions, in which a student who signed up at least a day in advance will come and we'll talk about their assignment. It's not an editing session, although I'm some will include that. It's going to be focused on improving their arguments, sorting their structure, and helping them take their ideas (which they probably have thought about in non-academic Russian) and translating them into an acceptably written English paper.

We also are going to be doing seminars that are aimed at improving English writing and study skills. They'll cover general topics, like how to create thesis statements, how to organize the argumentation in a paper, or how to cite sources properly. We've got to come up with the topics... it's a very new job in a  very new school in a very new university. Everything is in dire need of being created.

From now until May, I'll be busy with that! I'm excited, and not including the cafeteria food, the temperature, the bleak office, the students, and having to work, it looks like this job will be quite enjoyable.

Here's a blurry photo I took of the place before the sun had officially risen. The entire campus is basically housed indoors, because being outdoors in Kazakhstan is frostbitingly stupid:

Here's the view from where I'm sitting in my office. Computer and phone and the like will be there soon:

And the view from the window:

1 comment:

  1. I was going to remark on how the window is open in the 2nd picture and then when I saw the third I realized that it opens to a courtyard within the building and not to the bitter cold of the outside. Sounds like an interesting gig - hope it goes well.