Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Going out with a Bang

We are nearing the end of our semester and I was reminded of the struggles we went through to start the semester. The school is trying so hard to formalize it procedures and function more like a North American University, unfortunately with little luck.

This week has been exam week which was anything but normal. My first exam was actually just a reused one from my teacher's fourth year local student's class… all of the questions were written in the majority language, which I can read a little of, but not enough to understand when it says “conjugate these verbs in to the perfect past continuous forms”. Because our class used a different textbook this year, it wasn't really based on the information we had studied. I was also unable to translate whole sentences between these two foreign languages. In other words I bombed it.

In the afternoon on Monday we scheduled to take the exam for our oral Uyghur class, but because the teachers need to hand in hard copies of our exam, it would be a written test. When we showed up to take the exam, we were hustled off to another room, where a bunch of young Russian kids were writing their listening exam (this meant the teacher kept reading passages out loud to them) making the room anything but quiet. The proctor then gave us the wrong exam paper (we thought we were writing an exam based on our oral class and he gave us our grammar exam –which I thought I still had one more night to study for). The font that was used on our grammar exam was next to impossible to read (many of the letters were formed incorrectly because the computer it was printed off of did not have Uyghursoft) and took double the time to read. We tried to tell the proctor it was the wrong exam and that it was illegible, but he doesn’t speak or read Uyghur. He told us not to complain and just write. “Anyway” he said “it doesn’t really matter, these exams don’t count for anything”. IF THEY DON’T COUNT THEN WHY IN THE WORLD ARE WE TAKING THEM?????

When our teachers saw how poorly we as a whole class did on these exams they invited us over to their homes separately (secretly). If a teacher’s whole class does poorly it reflects on the teacher and they will loose face (shame is a very big part of this culture). At their homes we drank tea and corrected our exams together one by one… but we had to have different answers in some places so that it wasn’t so obvious that we had cheated. The whole thing was so frustrating. In the last two day I have written three exams of which I had to re-write two of them. I try not to use this blog as just a place to vent my cultural frustration… but today this is me venting.


Anonymous said...

Wow.... makes me feel like a dream professor. I don't think that my exams are THAT bad.

Anyway, I want to wish you a silent night that's full of joy to the world. Go ahead, go tell it on the mountain. With a song in my heart,
Ol' MB

~ Amanda ~ said...

oh my, i was frustrated just reading this. so sorry that you had such a terrible time with exams. do you have a break now?