I have a little bit of class preparation to complete today, but mostly spending today writing and conceptualizing the academic projects I'm working on. Tonight I'm observing the first evening of the Night School (community literacy) program. Although students here don't do paid work, many are involved in significant community service or advocacy work of some type, and the Night School program is a prominent example. A completely student run English-language teaching program. The language learners in the class are employees of the University (mostly maintenance, security, and kitchen staff, most of whom speak little English) who wish to learn English in order to achieve job advancement. Employees must pass English proficiency tests in order to get promotions.
Yesterday I had hoped to get work done, too, but alas Nicole and I couldn't resist spending much of the day exploring Beirut. We wandered (okay more than wandered...more like "walked and walked and walked") to the Verdun district, which consists mostly of upscale shopping, the kind of area that I think challenges a lot of Western perceptions of "the Middle East," full of stores where I couldn't afford anything! High fashion, so definitely interesting people watching possibilities. We also saw a movie ("The Other Guys") at a pretty inexpensive little theater there. Hollywood movies screen in English with both French and Arabic subtitles (so lots of writing on the screen!), so we were happy to verify that we'll be able to see--and understand--the new Harry Potter film as soon as it's released here. Not sure if all cinemas are like this here, but this one at least assigned specific seats (you pick out seats when buying tickets, like going to a play or getting an airline ticket), which ushers enforced. Also dropped some cash at a really great bookstore on some books on Lebanon and Arabic cooking that we couldn't pass up.