Monday, March 05, 2007

Finals week at UBA (Ken)

Here is a class photo of my group at the University of Buenos Aires.
Back row: Eva (20) from Heidelberg, Germany, Martin (26) from Germany, Eric (24) from Sweeden, Victoria (24) from Boston, me, Yi Luh (20) from Shanghi, and our Profesora, Pilar. Blake from Canada, Ulrike (27) from Munich, Maria from Stockholm, and Barbara (39) from Berlin.

This is finals week at UBA for clases super intensivos. We were given a practice final exam to take home and complete over the weekend. We went over that today. There is also an oral exam. The core learning outcomes for this level are to be able to use the verb forms indefinido, imperfecto, and imperative. So the oral exam mostly focuses on those. But we also learned so direct and indirect object pronouns and phrases of comparison.

Today, to practice for the final exam, the class was split into four groups. We played that life boat game where our ship was sinking and we were given a list of 15 items and we had to take in the lifeboat to bring to the deserted island. The list included things like: a blanket, matches, a lantern, a bottle of gin, ¾ liter of water, a parachute, a pistol, a survival knife, a package of food, a compass, a star map . . . and so on.

Our small group had to list them 1-15 in order of importance. I was with the 20 year-old German girl, Eva, and the 20 year-old Chinese girl, Yi Luh. We could not agree on anything. My top two were the matches and the knife. They wanted the pistol and the ¾ liter of water. Now remember, the purpose of this was to use phrases like “La agua es mas importante que la manta.” (the water is more important than the blanket). I tried to explain (in Spanish to a German girl and a Chinese girl) that ¾ liter of water was not going to last us that long and that we need fire for warmth, signaling for rescue, and boiling drinking water. It was a lost cause. They argued hard for the pistol. I said, “¿Qué paso? Soy de Los Estados Unidos y deseas la pistola?” (What’s going on here? I am the American and you want the guns?)

We then had to join our small group with another small group. We were joined by Martin, a 26-year-old German, and Victoria, a 23 year-old. At age 50, I was again overwhelmed by youth. We were told we had to get our list of 15 down to 10 and agree with the other group. Again, I was out-voted by their youthful logic. It was kind of fun arguing in Spanish. But I was able to convince Martin that the matches should go on the list. He argued that if the boat was sinking the matches would be wet and not work. I argued that if that were the case, everything was wet and we had no chance of surviving the night so let’s just drink the gin and die. La profesora came over to ask how we were doing and I said, “Vamos a morir todo!” My matches made it to priority 6.

Then the whole class, now in two groups, had to agree on five items only. Finally, I got to play with the grownups. The other group had Blake, Maria, and Barbara. Ironically, my top five items, that I tried to convince Yi Luh and Eva to take, were the five items the whole group ended up choosing to bring in the life boat.

What I thought were cultural differences ended up being an age differences.


Chas said...

“Vamos a morir todo!”

emilyeffinconrad said...

Ken are you ken_k0 on the FNP website?

Jos said...

El juego suena divertido!!!