Monday was not quite as exciting as most have been, a lot of sitting around, sleeping, and just doing the things that I needed to do…like writing this blog. I woke up really late, and ate some food, then took a shower. My roommates just did their own thing too. Caitlyn slept till way late, and I didn’t even see her till that evening when we were eating dinner. Nita was in her room and only came out some times, to grab a drink or food. Monday was a down-time day for sure. Daniel and Megan came back from Tahiti, sounds like they had tons of fun. Sadly Daniel told us that they wanted the blankets and pillows that we took from our last apartment back because they wanted to wash them and put them back in the apartment, where they belong. So Nita and I put them in sacs, like what we did last Monday, and carried them to the center, and again I couldn’t help but laugh, but this time because the blanket bundles we made weren’t staying together. Luckily there was a lady that was cleaning the sidewalk where we were walking and she came to our rescue and helped us carry our mess to the center. I had no way to thank her but say thank you over and over again. Now, every time I see her I wave and say hi and she waves back and smiles. When Nita and I came back to the apartment, we decided to see what movies our Chinese TV had to offer, we ended up finding “Suburban Girl”, which may I say is not the greatest movie, it was really bad…as in being really cheesy and bad acting; so bad that Nita left to go to the other room and Caitlyn and I finished it. After that we just did whatever and then went to bed.
So before I continue, my week is a lot like the week before with some minor changes and details. Tuesday was like the Tuesday before, Caitlyn and I woke up early and met up with Yao at 7:30am; however, this time we were going to teach 7th graders. It was actually kind of fun teaching them because they are way more expressive, but also difficult since they thought they could do whatever they wanted figuring we didn’t know how to handle them, haha. My first class I had was super great; they listened and asked questions… lots of questions. Then they then asked if I could give them English names, so I went around the room, and tried to give them names that fit how they look and that sounded close to their Chinese name. After the first class they just became more out of control. By the time I got to my last class they just didn’t want to sit in their seats, and pay attention. So very frustrating and now I completely understand what teachers go through when a class won’t listen or pay attention.
When classes were over, we waited for Yao and as usual we were stared at by all the kids and passer-bys, it’s almost become such norm for us. We ate at the same restaurant for lunch, and our major dishes were broccoli which was steamed in this buttery sauce with rice, and compliments of fired mushrooms and this meat dish that had a lot more vegetables than meat. When we finally got back to the center it was 2:30pm, we just stuck around the center waiting to be told what to do, I ended up going on this app called “Taobao”, which is a Chinese app that lets you buy items before they are shipped out for super cheap… literally the best app ever!!! Needless to say, I bought a long board, and I was told that it would take three days to get here. We then were told that this would be the last week Nita and I would be teaching the middle school public speaking class because they wanted a full time teacher, and to be honest I was really excited for those classes because I enjoyed teaching those kids and that subject so much. It was really disheartening to hear that this would be the last week I would see them, we were also told that the class would be on Thursday instead of Wednesday. After making my purchase and getting notified of the schedule change, I was told they didn’t have any more work for me to do at the center so I went home, made some dinner, planned for a little and then went to bed. Not the kind of day I was expecting to have, nor feelings to have with my kids that I teach, but everything I do is learning opportunity for something greater and I am sure there will be more to come.
Wednesday was also similar to last week, except we didn’t have to wake up supper early, and had to meet Yao at 7:30am. When I woke up I had a super runny nose and sore throat… YAY for the start of sickness!!! (insert sarcasm here). When we got to the school I wasn’t such a happy camper as my usual self, my excitement just disappeared, maybe because the next class I would teach would be the 13th time talking about myself, and I was tired of explaining who I am (really isn’t my favorite thing to do), but I put a smile on my face and thought about the kids, and made it an awesome experience for them, because after all experience (of any kind) brings growth and growth spurs opportunity. By the end of the last class I had talked about myself for 16 different class periods, and now I don’t want to ever have to talk about myself again, lol.
The first class went really well; their English teacher sat in on the class and watched from the back. She was super nice, after class she pulled me to the side to thank me for coming and helping the students with their English. Some of the students came up to me and told me how excited they were to have me as their teacher. As the classes went on, they just got less and less attentive, and by the last class when I was going around the class room asking their name, age, and something they like to do, they were making the excuse that they didn’t know how to speak English. However, what they didn’t know was that I could speak a little Mandarin, so when they said that they couldn’t speak English I would repeat the question in English and then in Mandarin, and then they gave up faking not speaking English and would speak English. It’s always so funny seeing their faces when Mandarin comes out of my mouth; they are always so star-stuck. After classes were finished, we decided to go out to eat for lunch. We ended up going to the same restaurant that we’ve been to many time, but there were a lot more people this time, most of them were trying to take sneaky pictures of us. At the end of lunch Yao told us that there will be two Chinese teachers accompanying us to Tai Yuan, so we had an awkward ride home, and I think I almost fell asleep on the lady next to me, oops. When we got back they said that we didn’t have anything else to do so we just went to our favorite dumpling place and got some dinner and then headed home.
Thursday I was able to sleep in a little since Caitlyn was feeling much better, she could go teach the college class…whew. So I got up around 8am and got ready, then headed over to the center and worked on some items of business, and planned for the middle school pubic speaking class. I went home for lunch and talked to my sister forever and then I had to be back at the center by 4 pm to go to the middle school. I was super excited about the class because it was about having confidence, and not only was it a lesson for me but it was also for them. At the beginning of class I wrote the word ‘confidence’ on the board, explaining what we were going to be talking about that day, after having them tell me what they thought confidence meant, I went a little deeper into its explanation. I then told them to write a speech about anything, they had to write it in three minutes and they couldn’t use their paper to give their speech. After the three minutes I said something along the lines of, “Who wants to show their confidence today?” I had a few kids raise their hands and they came up and gave their speech, and they were actually really good. I then had them write down five things that make a speech good, in their note books. After they had done that I told everyone to go on to the board and write down one or two things that make a speech good. I read some of them out loud, like relax, smile, taking with your hands, and then tied it all back to being or having confidence. If we lack confidence we wouldn’t be relaxed/comfortable/able to deliver, and so on and so forth. It’s really neat to see kids faces light when they understand, and finally put it all the pieces together. We then watched a TED talk by Drew Dudley about leadership, after the video we talked about why he was a good public speaker. I then had them write down a goal of how they were going to practice confidence. After that I had them say “I am confident” a couple of times really loud, they all had these huge smiles on their faces AND then I broke news that this would be my last day with them. They all got really sad and the teacher in the room had me take a picture with the entire class, and as the kids went out of the classroom I gave them high fives and told them to be confident. Some of the students gave me a hug, and wanted me to sign their note books; they also wanted me to take pictures with them… lots of pictures. It went very much the same for the next class. I felt so bad because some of the girls looked like they were going to cry…it was so sad. When we came home Caitlyn was planning and packing for her Hong Kong trip, she was so stressed out because she was still planning and she was leaving in the morning, and it didn’t help that she was going by herself (never good). I ended up making her eat some snow pears, which were from a previous dinner and Oreo’s since she hadn’t eaten all day yet. Exhausted from the day I went to bed.
Friday I was able to sleep in for a while and then I headed to the center to do…. nothing. When I got there Nita was there, and we just chilled for a little. Mr. Jin came in and had a serious talk with us trying to persuade us to stay for a couple of months longer, he was relentless, he tried just talking us into it, he even got to the point to where he would pay us a lot of money to stay. Unfortunately Nita and I couldn’t stay longer and we had to explain that to Mr. Jin, and soon after an hour he gave up and left the room. After that episode, Nita and I were told that we were going to be taking pictures for advertisement around 2:30pm so we went home and got ready then went to our favorite noodle place to grab some tomato noodles to go, and we headed back to the center. As we ate our noodles we watched “Chasing Liberty”, which was a super cute movie. After the movie we sat around then went to go take some pictures, luckily it was very fast so we didn’t have to be there long, they had us stand in some really funny positions, like we stood a foot or two away from each other to take the picture (it felt beyond awkward). We then went home, and literally seconds after coming home I got the news that my long board had arrived, so I quickly ran back to the center and opened it up, I was so happy at that moment for such a monetary item, you don’t understand, this long board gave me a lot of joy…which I needed.
After sitting around a while we left to go the elementary school, and when we got there the kids were getting out of class, a lot of them were screaming “mei guo” (which means American) and pointing, and we literally got swarmed by a hundreds of little children. We forgot where to go, but luckily I recognized some of the kids from my class and they recognized me and we figured it out. For class we were suppose to take this English test so we could gage their English skills level, but all of my kids couldn’t read or understand any part of the test, so I had them crumple up their papers and I decided to go over some simple vocabulary sets like colors and family members, we then played little sally walker and I taught them “You Are My Sunshine”. After class some of the girls came and gave me a hug. Oh and I forgot to tell you, I found out that I don’t just have third graders in my class, I also have a lot of second and first graders, so they know little to no English…perfect! After class, we went to this really fancy BBQ restaurant as a farewell for Nita since she was going home back to America on Sunday. This place was actually really cool; it was a buffet but with BBQ. For the BBQ you get these white containers that have very thin cut pieces of meat that are raw and in the middle of the table there is a grill and you grill the meat in front of you. It was so good and so fun. There was me, Nita, Daniel, Megan, James, Walker, Anne, Edis, and Samantha, some of the names you don’t recognize are just some of our Chinese co-workers. I ate a lot of fruit, especially dragon fruit, and some meat. I also tried this sushi that had caviar on the outside and banana on the inside, it wasn’t so good. After diner we came home and since it was late we went to bed so we could work the next day.
Saturday I didn’t wake up till 10am, thank goodness I didn’t have to be at work till two. So Nita and I watched “I won a date with Ted Hamilton”, and then I got ready for the day and planned my art lesson for class. Classes went well, I showed them some different types of art and videos of people doing some art, then I taught them how to do some different doodling and we drew for the last bit of class. The classes always start off good then by the time the last class comes they are just out of control, and it didn’t help that I had a humongous headache. There’s only so much a focused mind can handle at that age. When class was finished, Nita took me to our favorite restaurant and bought dinner for both of us to go, and then we went home and ate. I was so tired that I headed to bed, and Nita stayed awake since she had to leave at 2am to go to the train station to go to Beijing and go back to America.
Sunday I woke up late again, around 10, and I was home alone, so I made some French toast and then cleaned a little. Around 11:50am Nita texted me to let me know that she got to the airport safely and that she was not late, we talked for a little and then I talked to my sister again. Soon 2 pm came around and I headed to the center. So for my first class I teach this reading class where we read books and then I check for comprehension to make sure they fully understand the books/words in the book. Usually I only have one independent study student, Henry, but today we got a new student, another little boy. They aren’t really little, since they are both eight years old, but they are little to me. After class I apparently had off so I sat and listened to some music. After an hour I got to teach art again but I did it differently than the first day. We first just drew and I played some music and when I stopped the music we switched papers and then when the music started again they drew on the picture that was in front of them. We did that for a while, I then showed them some videos of people drawing. Then we made these really cute fish drawings where you fold the paper and have a normal looking fish and when you pull the paper to its full size the fish has sharp teeth, it was really cute. After that I had them draw whatever they wanted for the last 8 minutes of class. When class was over I was done for the day so I went home and worked on some personal business, watched some movies and then talked to my family. I was up till 2am because I wanted to talk to my bestie (best friends keep life going) back in America, the minute that conversation was over, I passed out. On to another week, with more great adventures and cultural exposures!!!