Monday, August 27, 2012

Setting up a library is hard work

Let's compound this with several other facts:

1. We don't have the most reliable power systems. Granted, it's a lot more reliable than the local system, on which you'll get about 20 minutes of power an hour. We have a generator to back-up, however, every time the power goes out and the generator kicks in, everything  has to reset. It's so frustrating to try and download updates for your computer when the power doesn't last.
2.Internets are very slow. We're talking hours to download something. It's not dial-up, but they just don't have the infrastructure to support high-speed, yet. Actually, there is a 3-G network being developed and one of the towers is being built here on top of the dorm rooms. When it's finished, we'll be one of the few who has such fast access (this is what happens when you work at a private school in a third world country).
3. Destiny, despite being the most commonly used school library cataloging systems, is a clunky mess. I tried to show the IT guy how to use it earlier, he was confused. Because, let's be honest, library cataloging is an outdated system. Basically, we built computer systems that mimicked how we do library cataloging when we didn't have a computer system. Now that we have these incredible tools, you'd think we would update our systems accordingly, or build more user-friendly systems, not so!
4. It's hot and humid in Bangladesh, not a friendly place for books we want to have for a long time. We're trying to stabilize the temperature in the library before we get the books on the shelves, but it's just really sad looking at a bunch of  empty shelves until then. We do have de-humidifiers, but they put out more heat, which makes the air conditioner work harder too. And then there's the lack of power at times, which means we have no A/C and no dehumidifiers, and it's just a bit of mess.
5. Jet lag is just the worst. It hits about noon and my body really wants me to go to bed already, because it's midnight where I'm from and that's what you do. Even now, I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open. They say it takes one day for every hour of time difference, by that calculation, I should be over my jet lag in about 3 days, we'll see what happens though.
6. Language creates barriers. Everyone in Bangladesh, or so it seems, speaks some English. If they don't though, they kind of act like they do and then just don't do what you asked them to. I have an assistant who I'm pretty sure only understands me half the time, however, she has been paired with me so that she can improve her language skills, and so she can help catalog the Bangla books. Fortunately, there are plenty of English-speaking teachers to bridge the need for adult conversation in my native tongue. Also, part of the contract includes the school paying for our admission to the American club, we're going this weekend, so we'll how that is.

Overall, I'm still slightly overwhelmed, exhausted, and really excited about the school year. I'm hoping to get the library up and running by the end of this week, but it all depends on how long it takes to import the catalog (first I have to download updates, then the actual MARC records, takes a lot of time!).

Sorry that this post was text heavy, I've not really been out and about to take pictures.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

This is my jet lagged face

Well, it's been a full....crap what day is it....ummm...four days?..yeah four days since I got here. Holy cow, that's not very long, it seems like forever ago.

After one night in Dhaka we drove to the school, which is 55 kilometers outside of the city. Never in my life have I seen traffic so crazy. The road is about 4 cars wide, but no one uses lanes, and there were several times when my life flashed before my eyes as we were heading straight toward oncoming traffic. I survived, mostly intact. In fact, the next morning I drove back to Dhaka to retrieve my luggage at the airport (as I had been told. It would be there and neither of the phone numbers I was given for the lost luggage office worked). Nope, no,luggage. I made up for it by buying curtains and a rug at a nice department store, and a chocolate cupcake (which was only 90 taka, so a buck, totally worth it). Perhaps due to the nature of the ride, I did experience do you say....intestinal distress for the next couple o f days. I did sleep for about 14 hours, and that helped alleviate it.*

It's so weird being at the school now, I've seen these pictures for month and now I'm actually here! The school is out in the countryside, with lush forest and rice paddies surrounding it. Any time we go to the local village we attract a crowd of curious people.

We're frantically planning for the upcoming year, especially because they've changed the ICT (Information and communication technology) program a bit so I've got to design a new a week. It'll work out, I'm sure, but it was a little overwhelming to begin with.

The library, unfortunately, must wait a bit. We need to get UV screens for the windows and really want to figure out the relative humidity before we start unpacking books. Also, I have an assistant in the library, how awesome is that?!

That's all I can think of now, doing well, enjoying myself, not dying in a puddle of my own sweat (yet).

A few pictures of my apartment, with some little homey touches.

*my principal picked up the luggage the next day, fortunately, nothing missing or damaged!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, August 17, 2012

What a trip!

And I mean that in both senses of the word (if you don't know the second meaning, good on ya!)

So, the journey began in Los Angeles. In order to get a work visa (as opposed to a tourist visa), one must visit a consulate before leaving. They are located in Los Angeles and New York. Since I'm near LA, it wasn't  a big deal to go there, because I would probably have to fly through there anyway.

The timing actually turned out perfectly, I have family down in that area, so I was able to spend good time with them, and my parents were actually at a conference and so they were able to send me off from the airport and everything.

The trip to the consulate was a mess, I'm not going to go into it, but it took two days, 4 trips there, and waking someone up at 2 am. In the end though, I got a two year visa with multiple entries, which is more than any of the other teachers (I'd like to think I charmed the guy, boosts my ego just a bit).

Waiting to board, we were late leaving LAX
I flew Turkish Airlines (which is supposedly the best airline in Europe, I was impressed in some aspects, but their flight attendants left a little to be desired in the personality department) from LAX to Istanbul, then Istanbul to Dhaka. 20 hours total on the plane. Even thinking about it makes me die a little inside. Crammed into such a small place for such a long time. Fortunately, I was able to upgrade on the first leg of the journey, from Economy to Comfort, which included a much better seat, better food, and tons more space. It was definitely worth every penny (and really, at $250, it's a bargain).

Delicious cod dinner, this is only one of the courses, there were 4.

They used a cute little clothesline clip for the napkin, man I wish I had taken it.

Istanbul to Dhaka, on the other hand, was kind of a nightmare, considering I had to run to catch the plane (disappointing because I wanted to explore the airport a bit, I do love duty free in other countries). It was totally packed, but I fortunately had a window seat and an empty seat beside me, so I could spread out a bit (economy really doesn't have a ton of space).

Slightly less impressive dinner in Economy class, although anything that includes Vanilla Pannacotta can't be all that bad.
On arrival in Dhaka (at 5 am local time, I might mention, worst flight plan ever), I waited an hour and a half for them to unload all the luggage from the plane, and I only had one of the four bags I brought (and a carry-on). Fun times. I'm thinking that they didn't make that short connection, we'll see what happens.

Excuse the screen, but this is the view from my hotel room, love, right?!
So, now I'm here in Dhaka, all the teachers are staying at a hotel in town and we're going out to the school campus tomorrow. This afternoon we're taking a tour of old Dhaka, so hopefully lots of pictures.

Maybe it's the lack of sleep, but I've been here all of 5 hours and I'm already in love.
Not in my room, in a common area, spotted a lizard. Awesome.

More to come.

Friday, August 10, 2012

It behooves me to update my blog

There are many things that have happened since I last updated this blog. Let's make a list:

1. I graduated. Yep, finally done with grad school. It was bittersweet. I love school a lot, but I also like not running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  A picture:

2. I went to Niagara Falls and Montreal with my parents. I joke about disliking Canadians, but we all know that's because I would move there in a heartbeat. More  pictures:
it was really foggy, but the city was there, I promise!
The "Maid of the Mist" totally worth every penny

3. I moved back to Utah for a time. This was fun because I go to sell everything on Craigslist (so many reliable people) and drive through Nebraska, which is super awesome (I may or may not be sarcastic). I didn't take pictures of this, although I wish I had, I packed my 2000 Subaru Legacy like a boss.

 4. I went to my cousin's wedding in San Diego and then to ALA in Anaheim.

I really, really, really , don't want to go into detail about ALA, suffice it to say that I don't necessarily need to go to a conference of that size for a while (although I would like to go to the International Association of School Librarians conference, it's in Qatar this year, how awesome would that be?!)

 5. Now, I'm leaving Monday, yes, this Monday, for Bangladesh and I'm still putting off packing and things. I took a carload to the DI earlier this week, so that's a step in the right direction. I did get my final flight details and I get to go to Istanbul (not Constantinople, good luck getting that out of your head now), so that'll be an experience. I also randomly get to spend 2 extra days in Los Angeles while I go to the embassy to get my Visa. This is awesome because I get to spend 2 extra days with my cousins in Long Beach, and 2 extra days with my parents who are going there for a work conference, double bonus!

Busy, right? Now, I must go pack something, or throw something away, whichever seems more productive.