farewell to california

Today's post combines a lot of things that I thought I'd have had more time to write longer posts on but didn't.

- The "Papers with the Prof" programme at the dining hall. Local and national newspapers are placed on a table. The resident facult, the "Prof", reads them and marks and comments on certain articles. Students and other staff are encouraged to do the same. For solitary eaters (like me!) or for generating conversations about news stories, it's a fantastic project and, as far as I could tell, it seemed to be going well. When I grow up, I want to be the "Prof".

- The used book stores. Of which many words have already been written so I won't write more here.

- The weather--once you get used to wearing jackets during daytime (in August!), you realise that the cooler weather facilitates walking about, bludging in the sunshine and is good for energy conservation (no need for air conditioners). I did read there's a heat advisory for Washington for the upcoming week. Fun.

- The students. I guess it goes without saying that engineering, global public health and law and human rights are not my preferred topics of choice to teach. It did help that the syllabi were developed by people who know what they were doing (more than I do) so all I had to do was tweak them. Still. The final two sessions--engineering and GPH with most classes being one after another--were fairly tough especially as the engineering kids seemed to expect, you know, actual engineering, not a class on the "let's talk about the social and environmental effects of engineering and technologies". Ah well.

It didn't help that, for almost all the kids, TUWSNBN was an unknown creature. I believe I have mentioned that more than one student asked if it was an online university. PR people, take note.

Overall, though, I think they all went remarkably well. The classes were well-structured, the students were keen to discuss issues raised (especially the global public health students, who were articulate and cheerful even at extremely early hours of the morning) and some even found me during "off times" to discuss topics raised in class.

- The homeless. Rather surprisingly, even for me who grew up in various "developing" countries, San Francisco and Berkeley have remarkably large numbers of homeless/street people. Many of them, especially in Berkeley, are not especially nice (though I do get the point that nice is probably not what I'd be if I were homeless either). Many have been fairly agressive, rather rude at times and seem to have psychological issues and not just a lack of a place to live.

Is the state doing something about this? Well, there was a recent article in the local newspaper about how the state was making plans to ensure homeless people got aid (including psychological assistance) but local people (well, the few that I've actually talked to) seem to think this is all part of the Mayor's campaign for re-election.

- This is the first time in my life that I've lived in a context where all my fellow employees are American. Not just American but young, undergrad-aged, Americans. It's been interesting, to say the least.

- Living in a dorm once again, ten years after I did so the first time around. See above re: interesting.

I think that's about it for now. I am headed back the same way I came over but will be spending a week at the Glacier National Park in Montana.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home