Saturday, April 25, 2009

Summer is a Comin' In


Week Ten of a 20 week semester is upon us as the summer heat begins to build up towards the peaks of August when it is, apparently, not uncommon for the thermometers to hit 50c. At the moment we're experiencing a relatively comfortable 35c mid morning falling to 28c by the late afternoon.

The coming of summer seems to have affected some of the boys who seem to have resorted to sleeping under the stairwell after the morning break and who take a bit of friendly persuasion to shake the sleep from their minds and head into classes.
They do claim, as an excuse, that they're tired from the end of unit / cluster tests that often take two hours out of their morning to finish.

We've spent a lot of time as mediators between the boys and their teachers and between the boys' guardians and the teachers as, at Grade 12, the boys are coming up against assessments in skills that require reading and writing skills that they find extremely challenging and demanding. The nett result is loud complaints that the test was too hard and that they haven't been trained to answer the questions.
The problem isn't confined to an isolated school according to a report in The Peninsula newspaper which reported a complaint from a student about the way in which their examinations were conducted.
The experience of acting as a mediator and advisor is what we're in Qatar for so I do feel that I'm earning my keep!!

On the more creative school note the Arabic Department organised a "Poetry Idol" type competition last week at which the boys recited their original poems to a crowded auditorium of students and teachers.
According to our translator the poems are about one of three things - Camels, Land-cruisers in the Desert and hoped for love. Whatever the topic each poem was greeted with loud applause after each aspiring poet left the stage. I recalled the poetry competitions we held at school back home and thought it would be great for some of our N.Z. students to see and hear the power of poetry being declaimed by passionate young poets.

For a group of students for whom schooling is not always that rewarding their keenness and display of poetic skills was a reward to witness.

Joy has been selling her paintings quite regularly now with SOLD signs being added to her website ( ) each weekend. She now has a firm commission to complete and another in the offing which will keep her busy for a couple of weeks.

Last week Joy and I explored the Heritage Village along the Corniche. The village is not always open so we counted ourselves lucky to find it was in action and that a North African musical troupe were performing there.

We poked around the site watching the men & women engaged in the traditional handicrafts the had kept Doha in trade before the expansion allowed by the oil & gas industry.
This craftsman was busy demonstrating the art of knotting nets and fishing lines. While this craftsman demonstrated the painstakingly careful craft involved with carving the gypsum used in making wall decorations and lacework windows.

Joy came across some women who were making the traditional masks worn by the more traditional older women to cover their faces under their abayas. They promptly persuaded her to sit with them and to be dressed in the mask and shawl so she could experience the world through their perspectives.

She just escaped having her hands hennaed in the same fashion as this young girl had had done by pleading that we wanted to see and hear the North african dance troupe in performance on the stage.

Their song & dance routines were punctuated with displays of head swinging to twirl the tassles on their caps in ever faster circles around their heads while keeping up the tempo and frentic beat of their songs.

Later in the week we went to a lecture at the Islamic Centre entitled " The Vikings & Islam" which promised to be interesting and a different perspective on the history of the Vikings and their contacts with the Islamic Empire but proved to reveal little except that the speaker's research had established that contact had occured and a trade in furs and silver had happened with no real cultural interaction.

This past week seems to have disappeared all too rapidly with a meeting of the Doha Writers Group as a highlight for both Joy & me as we met some great people from Aljazeera TV and the Bloomsbury-Qatar Foundation Publishing house.

Saturday the ANZ communities in Doha commemorated ANZAC Day with a dawn service on the beach front at the Marriot Doha. Several members of our team attended the ceremony.

John Ellis, the Country Manager for Cognition, represented the NZ contingent at the ceremony.

Now, it's looking forward to quiz night at the Ramada and planning our pre return to NZ visit to Jordan.

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