The second leg of the trip was London to Dubai, Saudi Arabia. On the flight monitor I watched as we flew over many places that are frequently in the news because of the war. It was disconcerting. From the air, you can see little but sand. The flight is long—nearly seven hours, and by that time it was difficult to remember what time zone I was in. We moved 6 hours ahead from Boston to London and another 3 from London to Dubai. But the Dubai airport was worth the trip. It is a glittering, Disneyland-like place, mostly devoted to an enormous shopping mall. It was interesting to walk around the airport, and felt good to stretch my legs after the two long flights.
Karachi at last.
My flight from Dubai to Karachi was made much more interesting by the fact that I was seated next to a Pakistani physician, Dr. Shahida Rasheed. The flight passed quickly as we discussed medical education as well as primary and secondary education. We arrived in Karachi mid-afternoon, local time. I put on my head scarf before leaving the plane. Dr. Rasheed gave me a few pointers, but superior technique requires a safety pin. We passed swiftly through customs, and were met by a driver sent by the hotel. As you exit the airport, the first thing that you see is a giant McDonalds. The ride from the airport left no doubt that this is a very different place. I was charmed by the lavishly decorated busses—small vehicles each uniquely painted in bright colors. The city is crowded and the traffic is somewhat chaotic. As we passed through the town, I observed many small groups of men at leisure. The few women, usually with children in tow, were much more purposeful. I saw only one mixed group, a young couple who were, remarkably, holding hands.
The Sheraton, where I am staying, is one of two large “Western” hotels in Karachi . I have a room on the eighth floor from which I was able to observe eagles swooping and gliding very close to the balcony. Periodically, I could hear the chants calling people to prayer. The wardrobe in my room contains a Koran and a prayer rug, as well as a diagram indicating which way to orient the rug so as to face Mecca.
I am relaxing in the Heathrow airport, having completed the first part of the journey to Karachi. The flight was relatively uneventful, although there was a soccer team of twelve year olds heading to a tournament in London that kept things lively. The most exciting part of the day actually happened in Logan. The British Air counter clerk nicely insisted that I had to physically fit my carry on in the "carry on size measurement device" or I had to check it. I weighs a lot, since it is full of papers for Nooruddin. I got it in OK, but couldn’t get it out. Eventually, I did. I think that she was disappointed. I will board a flight to Dubai in about 20 minutes.
This blog is intended to record my experiences and insights during a two-week Library Consultancy with AKES-Pakistan under the auspices of the International Academic Partnership. As the Library Director of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library at Phillips Academy, I am traveling to Karachi to collaborate with colleagues in library and instructional technology. The focus of the visit is to share experiences in three specific areas:
- How collaboration between librarians and teachers supports student success
- The resources, facilities, programs, and librarian roles which support a 21st century library
- Strategic planning for library and instructional technology programs and facilities
In preparation for the visit, I developed a blog to facilitate our communication. Click here to visit the Collaboratory.
Today is Wednesday, July 26th, and it is my last day in the library before my trip to Karachi. I have spent time over the past few weeks preparing materials to bring, and setting up a blog (Collaboratory) to use with my library colleagues in Karachi. Thanks to the wonderful staff at AV, I am taking a set of transparencies of my PowerPoint slides as a back-up so that I’ll have a Plan B in the case of technology failure. I have been in touch with my Pakistani contact, Nooruddin Merchant, and he assures me that all is ready. I have checked the weather reports (thunderstorms for six of the next seven days) and gotten updated exchange rates. The dollar has, remarkably, strengthend against the rupee this spring. When I go home tonight, I’ll finish packing.