6.10.12

Donkey Kong

Man oh man, this week has been way busy. I feel like I'm in college again, bogged down with endless papers and reading. I love teaching English, but the obvious downside to teaching the writing classes is the copious amounts of [awful] writing I have to read and edit. I am astounded by my class's ability to understand basic rules of writing, but to completely ignore them every time they write a paper. You mean you forgot to capitalize the letter "I" in every sentence, indent your paragraphs, and put any periods in your paper? It has been a challenge, for sure.
As difficult as my English classes have been for me this week, my psychology class was fantastic.
Why?
Because I brought a live donkey to class.
That's right.
You may be wondering how on earth a donkey relates to my psychology class. Well I have been spending the past two weeks teaching them about conditioning. My class is all juniors and seniors, so they seemed to understand the concept by the end of the section. However, nothing ingrains memory as much as a donkey.
I'm not sure that is how that saying goes.
But still. What better way to teach them about conditioning, than to actually condition something before their very eyes?
I did an activity with them where I asked the class "who the seniors are." All the seniors raised their hands. My retort? "Why did you raise your hands?" They thought I was so tricky, conditioning them to raise their hands without them even knowing. It was great! So they understood that they can be conditioned, but to see the process as it is being enacted is even more beneficial to understanding.
We have thirty five acres of farmland on campus, and so there are a few donkeys that live here that they use for the hauling of supplies and things. I had one of my students who works on the farm bring me a donkey for class, so that I could condition the donkey to do something for them.
I chose to use a donkey for conditioning for a few reasons: normally, a dog would be an easier case study, but there are no (safe) dogs in the area. Donkeys are also often mistreated on the farm; the immediate response to a donkey is to beat it with a whip. I wanted to show them that you could condition a donkey to do what you ask without having to hit it. Lastly, I helped/worked at a ranch for a few years back home, and have practiced conditioning on horses during that time. Therefore, I understand how to condition a horse (which I know is different from a donkey) well enough that I don't feel unsafe doing the same with a donkey.
Guess what?
It took only fifteen minutes of conditioning the donkey during my psych class to successfully get results from it.
I am such a boss.
Also, I took a video of the event for those of you desirous to see just how/what I did. Check it out!
By the end of the video, this incredibly stubborn donkey does what I ask it to. And my psychology class helps you to understand the process of conditioning that we used to make it happen.


I also have a few good photos from the class. I will show you the best one first because, well, it is hilarious. We all gathered around the donkey at the end of class to take a photo, and the donkey got (rightfully) anxious having so many people near it. The donkey whipped its head around and nipped at me at the same time the group picture was being taken, which resulted in this winning shot:


The look on everyone's faces is hilarious! Haha. Thank goodness Bagy was competent enough to grab the halter and try to calm the poor thing down. Everybody (guys included) definitely screamed though. So great. Ha!


Samy, one of my psych students and resident donkey-holder chilling with our friend after the experiment was completed. 


Deng Pal, the tallest student in the school next to the donkey. He is a giant next to the poor thing!


This is what the donkey looked like much of the time. He wasn't particularly pleased to be helping my class, but he did a great job! He certainly lived up to his name though.

After the donkey-bite incident, we did finally get one good photo of my psychology class and myself. There are a few students missing here who didn't want to be photographed, but this is the majority of the class. They are so great! Their names (from left): Deng Garang, Peter, George, Bagy, Samy, Deng Deng, David, Omijima, Chaleng, Rachel, Deng Pal, and Suzan. The missing students are Moses and Magdy. 

Tomorrow we are going to the Khan Il-Khalili, the giant market in Cairo. Picture rows upon rows of stands selling scarves, galibayas, little boxes, jewelry, spices. It is going to be amazing! I will hopefully have another update here tomorrow night to tell you about the trip.

OH! And I have super exciting news! However, it isn't something we are talking about on campus yet, so in order to protect the secret I am going to explain the news using only large vocabulary words/idioms. This way any wandering student eyes will have difficulty understanding.

One of the guy teachers here has a cousin who works under the American ambassador at the U.S Embassy in Cairo. He approached me to find out if I would like to entertain the idea of showing at a gala at the embassy per the invitation of his cousin. That's right. I may be making an appearance at a ball. A real life ball. In Egypt. Did I say I was excited?? I'll let you know when I get more information :)
Check back soon to hear about my trip to the Khan tomorrow!
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