What’s your favorite finger?

Monday was another lazy day; I was able to sleep in till way late, and do what I wanted to do. I took an extra long shower, taking up most of the heated water. Then I worked on some personal business. For lunch I made some dumplings….so delicious. After that I headed to the center to pick up the teaching lesson plans for the week, so I rode my long board over and picked up the papers. When I got there Edis, Samantha, and this other Chinese co-worker were there. I was about to walk out when I saw Edis trying to put together these file things, and she was struggling…hard, so I offered my help and put together a few for her. After helping, I dropped off the paperwork at home and ate some lunch. I was about to walk out the door to go for a ride on my long board when Caitlyn came through the door. She was finally home from Hong Kong!!!! She talked for a little about her trip and I showed her the lesson plans, after that I went for my ride. It was actually really funny because everyone was staring at me, probably because they thought I was crazy. Picture this – I had on my Bluetooth beats, my Beijing hoodie, and I was riding a long board, so I know I looked weird to those I passed. However, I didn’t mind, I was in my own world, cruising down the streets of Taiyuan looking at the complex I lived in and simply enjoying my time. After an hour I decided to come back home. I didn’t do much but made dinner, watched another movie, planed a lesson for the next day, talked to Caitlyn for a little, and to finish off my night I read my scriptures. It was a necessary fulfilling day of relaxation and reflection.

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So this week we are back to teaching tenth grade, and Caitlyn and I had to be in front of the center at 7:30am. We took our usual hour long drive to the school and yes, I slept the whole way there. For class I taught them hangman, and we played that for a while, and surprisingly they really liked it. I did the first word to show them how to do it because when I would explain it they all would look at me like I was talking about astrophysics or something, but once they got it they loved it. The lesson was very simple, it was just going over some new vocabulary, then reading a paragraph that had the new vocabulary in it, and then answering questions about the paragraph to make sure they understood it, comprehension. Classes went by super fast…like really fast. Every time I finished going over the last question the bell would go off. The bell system here isn’t a typical bell sound that you would here at schools in the U.S., when class was over you would here a Chinese song that was singing about how class was over. All four classes went awesomely (my new word) and soon it was lunch time. Yao took us to the same restaurant, and we ate regular rice with buttered broccoli, and some other dishes that Yao picked out. When we went back to the center, Daniel wanted to have a meeting about the schedule for the week, which he called the “Just American Meeting”, haha. So we began to talk about what he was just told by our Chinese co-workers; which was that we had another class to teach on Wednesday night and that there was a conference that night in like an hour that they wanted Daniel and I to give a 20 minute speech, luckily Daniel told me that I didn’t have to go, since I had already taught for a couple of hours and it was last minute, so he didn’t want me to stress about it. We then had a heated conversation on how the company was working with doing all this last minute planning, and how frustrating it was, also how it was all going to work out when I left for home. We then got really off topic and started talking about a lot of things, during our meeting Chen and Caroline came in, and we were all surprised to see them, since they quit their jobs at the company. It was crazy to see how happy they were compared to when they were working. Chen came in to just check in with Daniel to make sure he was ok, and that things weren’t too stressful. After our meeting I quickly ran home and grabbed Chen a shirt that had “Arizona” written across it (a souvenir from home), it was a gift I was suppose to give him a while back, but couldn’t because someone didn’t want me to but I followed my intuition and gave it to him anyway.  I then rode around on my long board for a little bit, went home, ate some dinner, read for a little, took a shower, and then went to bed.

The next day we had to be up early, and in front of the SMS at 6:30am. I had the same lesson to teach as the day before, and again it really well for all five classes. When we walked out to wait for Yao, one of the English teachers in the school came up to us and started talking to us. His English was really good, and he had a very big vocabulary (impressive).  I think out of the whole conversation all I remember was him saying that we looked very spunky, haha. We then went to eat and had our usual, this time Yao ordered these black rice sweet things (really have no idea what they were called), but they were soooo delicious. When we were all full from eating there were four more of the rice things, but I was to full from eating, Yao tried making us eat them, but we didn’t want to so we played rock, paper, scissors, Yao lost so he had to eat all four of the rice things. After that we got into the car and went straight home. I was super exhausted, so I slept a little, and then we got a message form Daniel telling us that the company planned more and that we would have to judge English competitions Thursday and Friday evening.  He also mentioned that the class we would normally have Friday night was cancelled. After receiving the message I got ready and Caitlyn and I headed to the committee office of “Star of Outlook”, to teach a class about how to do well for the English competitions. That class was only two hours long, and it ended around 8:30pm. After it was finished they put us into a taxi and sent us home. The car ride was funny because the taxi driver was trying to talk to us but he was only speaking Chinese, and I couldn’t understand him. I think he got really confused though because I was teaching Caitlyn some Chinese, and was speaking a little Chinese, all well. When we got dropped off we were really hungry, so we headed to our dumpling place. On our way there, there was a group of older ladies dancing together. Caitlyn wanted to join really badly, so she gave me all of her stuff. I don’t think they understood the song they were listening to because one, it was in English and two, it was singing about sex. I slowly walked away, and soon Caitlyn caught up to me. When we got to the restaurant we each ordered a plate of dumplings which hit the spot just right. When we got home I talked with my family for a while and then went to bed, it was really late.

Thursday I slept in a little, but I had to be at the center by ten. When I got there I kept asking if I could help with anything, and they never needed any help, so I just sat around for a couple of hours. When Daniel came in, he didn’t have me do much either. We did have a long conversation with our Chinese co-workers because they were again planning things without telling us and they planned more English competitions for Saturday and Sunday; however, Daniel got upset because in the past he told them that we can’t work Sundays do to our religion, and he tried to explain that again, saying that they already had us doing the weekend English class, and that it was not fair to us. They then started to ask a lot of questions about our religion, but we were getting close to the line of proselytizing, so we had to tell them that they couldn’t ask any more questions. They then started asking more questions as to why we couldn’t answer their questions; it was just kind of all over the place. After that though, I did get on a computer and I found a train ticket to Beijing and calculated out how much time I would need to get to the airport, how long it would take to go through security, buy tickets, and what not for my trip home.  I was going to purchase my ticket but I needed Daniel to do that and he was in a meeting, so I just told him I found out everything and he told me to get with him when he wasn’t busy to buy the tickets. I then went home and got ready to go judge the English competition. When we got to the English competition it went way longer than I thought.  In total we judged 80 kids….80. So how the judging works is there are three judges, one foreign and two Chinese/English speakers. So the kids were a mix of fifth and sixth graders that have to give a speech for a minute and a half (on anything they like) and then they have to answer questions we ask them. I like to ask weird questions like, “What’s your favorite finger?” or “Would you rather have no eyes or no ears?” So each of us judges took turns asking question, so we would rotate asking question with every kid, in other words one kid had one judge asking them questions. The scoring was that the speech had a total of 55 point, their interaction to the question is out of 30 points , image, the way they present themselves, is out of 10 points, and time is out of 5 points. So we were judging for three and a half hours, my brain was so dead, and I felt really bad because sometime I would zone out, I tried really hard in the end to pay attention. I think on every scoring sheet I doodled some kind of picture. When it was finally over, Anne took Caitlyn and me to this really fancy dumpling restaurant that was in walking distance of the school we were judging at. Anne ordered three plates of dumplings, two meats and one vegetable. They were so delicious, or as the Chinese would say, “Hen hao chu!!!” After we were finished eating, Anne took us home, and it was really late, but Caitlyn and I stayed up and talked for a while, luckily we didn’t have to be up early the next day.

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Friday I got up around 10am and got all of my dirty laundry together and went over to Daniel and Megan’s to use their washing machine. While I waited I watched “Sing”, such a cute cartoon. When I finished Caitlyn came over to do her laundry, and I went home to hang up all my clothes. I called my sister and talked to her for a little while and then took a shower and got ready, since we had another English competition to judge. This English competition was at the same school, but this time I was to judge 96 kids…ninety six, and instead of doodling on many score sheets, I picked one sheet and doodled on that. It took about four hours to get all the kids done. Whew. Afterwards, Anne took us to the same dumpling restaurant, this time Tommy came with us. On our way over there I saw this really cool building with Spiderman on it, we also saw this car with a very interesting paint job, I took pictures of both so you could see them. For dinner we had four plates of dumplings and an extra dish of meat balls, the kind of mini meat balls you would put in with spaghetti. We ended up with leftovers, so Anne gave us the rest of the dumplings. After that we headed to the center to drop off some stuff for another competition they were going to have in the morning. They had the place all set up, and they had these pamphlets, and lo and behold, I was on the front along with Daniel, Megan, Nita, and Alex….it was weird. We also met some kids that were going to help with the competition, they were all about my age… actually they were a little older, all around 20 years old. There was this one boy who was asking me all kinds of questions including asking for my WeChat so that he could practice his English. The kids had to go to another room for a meeting so it was just Caitlyn, Tommy, Walker, James, and I, and we talked for a long time, and when it was about 11pm we decided that it would probably be best to go home, so Caitlyn and I walked home. I couldn’t sleep, and ended up staying awake till 4am, good thing I didn’t have to do anything till 2pm the next day.

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So since I didn’t go to bed till way late I slept till 12pm, took a shower and then planned for my lessons for the weekend English classes, which for this week was music. So I went over to the center and I taught the kids the cup song from “Pitch Perfect”, and surprisingly they all loved it, maybe not so much of the singing, but doing the cups was fun for them. My first class was only two kids and they were OK, they tried doing it with the music and had some difficulty. My second class was Franklin, whose English is really good, he is in the highest class, which is sadly only him. He did really well and got to the point to where he could sing and do the cups at the same time, as long as I did it with him, and by the end of class he could sing and play along with the music almost perfectly. For my last class, there are a lot of students, eight to be exact, so I had them play musical chairs for a while, and then I had them learn the cup song. They were really stubborn at first and said that they couldn’t do it, but with a lot of repetition they were able to get the cups down, play with the video, and pass the cups around. After classes Caitlyn and I went home and changed into exercise clothes because we finally got a gym card!!! So we met Megan and Daniel at the gym in our complex and we did a small workout that Daniel planned. It felt so good to be in a gym with actual equipment that they have in America. After we did our workout, Megan and Daniel went home to shower and cook dinner, which they had invited us to. So Caitlyn and I stayed for a little longer and I really wanted to run, so I did a five minute run, I wanted to do more but Caitlyn doesn’t like running. So we headed to the dance room and Caitlyn practiced some of her dance moves. After the gym we had to buy drinking water for our apartment, so we went to SMS, and bought water along with some snacks. We headed home and dropped off the groceries, changed, and then headed over to Daniel and Megan’s for dinner. Megan had made mash potatoes, chicken, and fired green beans, it was so good!!! We also watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, and when that finished it was almost 11pm, so Caitlyn and I headed home to go to bed.

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Sunday I decided to stay in bed till I absolutely had to get out and go to work, which was at 2:30pm so I stayed in bed till 1pm, awake but I just didn’t want to take off my blanket, haha.  My first class I taught was my “cartoon” class, which is just having the students read children books out loud since their English is at the lowest level. I had three students this time so we read some books. I feel really bad because that class is really boring, but also extremely helpful for them.  For my second class I had my music class, we played musical chairs and then sang “You Are My Sunshine”.  After that we did the cup song, some of the Chinese employees wanted to join the class, so they came in and I taught them the words and then the cups to go along with the words. I only had one student, who was having difficulty doing the cups, but with everyone’s help we were able to help her get better and better and by the end of class we could play to the music and pass the cups around in a circle. It was such a great moment to see.  For my third class I had the kids from my first class and a random new girl had come along and so she joined us as well. When we played musical chairs, Henry was out of control, he was holding on the jacket/shirt of the kid in front of him so when the music would stop he would pull them away from the chair so he could win. After that, we sang “You Are My Sunshine” and then did the cup song….again.  For my last class I had English Literature with the girls from my second class. They are reading “The Adventure of Tom Sawyer”, which is a little advanced for them; however, we still read it, but just go over everything. So first the girls take turns reading and while they read if there are any words they don’t know, they ask and I explain, then when we finish a chapter we go over what we learned in that chapter, and then we have an audio that reads the chapter and they just listen. If we finish a chapter we move onto the next chapter. After class, James wanted help fixing his English for a document he translated, and he asked if I could help him. For any of those that know me, know that I hate editing, but I was helping a friend so I agreed to help. We literally spent three hours going over this 18 page document and fixing the English. James was so happy that I helped him, so he repaid me by taking me to Hot Pot, which was right by the center. It was really good, and we ate for a long time. James told me some interesting stories about his time in England, some stories were not what I wanted to hear, like about how it was his fourth day in the new country and his roommates wanted to go to a bar but instead walked into a strip club….. so awkward. After dinner I walked home, and when I walked through the door it was almost 11:30pm, so late again. I decided that I would be best to go to bed, so I did a little writing, a little reading and then fell asleep around 2am.

To Be or Not To Be….Confident

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.

 

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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.

 

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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!!!

 

 

So much to do, so little time 繁忙繁忙

Since I went to bed at 2am I woke up at 11am on Monday. Luckily, Monday was our day off and it was moving day for Nita and I; we were going to be moving in with Caitlyn. As soon as I woke up, I packed up all my belongings, picked up trash, took a shower and then chilled waiting for Caitlyn to give us the go ahead for us to move our stuff over to the new apartment. While we waited we grabbed some lunch, and decided to go to our favorite noodle place because it was only eight yuan for a bowl. Score. It was really funny because even before we got through the door the guy looked at us and put up two fingers, we nodded and gave him the proper amount of money and then we got our noodles, we didn’t have to even use words, it was pretty fantastic. After lunch, we headed back to our apartment and watch “I-Frankenstein”, and also “BFG”, which was a super cute movie. We then got the go ahead to come over, it took two trips to get all of our stuff over, once at Caitlyn’s, we unpacked and made ourselves at home. We then went back to our old apartment and grabbed all the blankets and pillows. I couldn’t stop laughing when we carried everything over to the new place because here were these two white girls carrying huge white blanket bundles, one had pillows in it and the other bundle was just a pile of blankets. All of which accounted for 9 pillows and 9 blankets, it was quite the sight.  After we dropped those off we made our way to SMS, which it is the local grocery store, and got some food for the week. We took our grocery bags home and went out to go eat dinner. We decided to go to this local dumpling restaurant that’s really good. When we got there, they handed us a paper that had the entire menu on it with the English translation. People here are absolutely the nicest; I know that is one of the things I will miss when I return home in a few weeks. After dinner we returned home and retired to bed.

Tuesday Caitlyn and I had to be up and out of bed, ready, and out the door by 7:30am because we were going to teach 10th grade at new location. The drive was an hour long to the school. Yao, who is the organizer and master of schedules, drove with us to the school, and I literally slept for the entire drive. On Tuesday I taught three classes. Each class has about 50-60 students, so I have a lot of students that I see, teach and hopefully leave a lasting impression. Class was about introductions, so I shared a power point about myself and then had the kids answer questions about themselves, and then we used our English and played games. It actually is a little weird because some of them were eighteen…. as in 18 years old. The classes range from 16 to 18 years old, the funny part about teaching this class was when they asked about my age, they all freaked out because I’m not that much older. Side note- another common question I get asked (kid you not, I frequently get asked) was if I had a boyfriend; they are all a little obsessed with the dating realm here, haha. So each class is 40 minutes, we start at 8:40am and go to 12 (noon). For lunch, Yao took us out at this restaurant across from the school, which was pretty good. When we got back, we had to have a meeting with Daniel about the week to come because he and his wife were leaving to Tahiti (visa restrictions and they have to leave every few months). After that we went to Spar, a Chinese Wal-Mart on steroids, and got some “cook-able” foods and living items… like bedding (you can never have too much bedding). This place was massive and it had two stories. The best part of the entire store was the escalator; it was flat so that you could take your cart upstairs with you… so awesome. We took a taxi and went home and chilled the rest of the night.

Wednesday was a little like Tuesday, except we had to wake up, get dressed and be out by 6:30am, and instead of 3 classes we had 4. The classes were exactly like Tuesday; we did an introduction lesson, where I introduced myself and then had them do an activity to emphasize English learning. Oh, and I forgot to mention it before but when I talked about how small my high school was they were shocked, and even more shocked when I showed them a picture of my Mandarin teacher (the amazing Mrs. Treptow) and I said that I have been learning Chinese for four years. They would look at me like I wasn’t real, and then a student would ask me to say something in Chinese, and I would say how I can speak it but how it’s difficult to understand and they would all clap, lol. It’s such an amusing reaction.  Once classes were finished, Yao told us to meet him by the exit of the school so we could all head out for lunch. When the bell rang we were still standing by the gate to the school and it was funny to see the students all come out and freak out to see us standing there. They all gathered around us wanting to talk to us, luckily Yao found us through the crowd of kids and off we went to lunch. For lunch Yao took us to the same place as the previous day and we both tried some different foods that we hadn’t had before. This day ran very similar to Tuesday, and when we finally got home, I had to take a small nap because I was beyond exhausted.

I had to wake up again a bit later because I was going to go to another school, this time a middle school to teach a public speaking elective class. On the way there all the Chinese workers were freaking out and being all stressed with regard to the school assignment, making Nita and myself stressed…. a little. They were making this class seem like it was going to be the end of the world if things didn’t go as they wanted or planned. After teaching both classes which were 40 minutes each, I grew to love the kids because the kids there are absolutely amazing in every way. They want to be there and want to learn, which makes it a lot easier to teach and have them engaged. So class was about introducing one’s self, so I shared my power point about myself  and then had the kids introduce themselves,  I then had them take a test so I could gauge their English skills. They were all so amazing; I can’t explain how excited I am to teach them again. After that teaching assignment, it was late so we got dropped off at home. I was really tired so I went to bed.

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Thursday I was woken up at 5 am by Caitlyn because she was super sick, couldn’t talk, overheating and constantly coughing. Since she was so sick, I went and subbed for her at the college, and if I’m going to be real, I’m not a fan of teaching college students, they just don’t listen and you can totally tell that they don’t want to be there…it was so much fun (total sarcasm). After a grueling time trying to teach both classes, I had to hail a taxi to get back to the center by myself, luckily Alex was there and he gave me his taxi and spoke to the driver for me. Whew. I had the address on a slip of paper of where I needed to go, so I just showed it to him and off we went. On the way, the driver called his friend to tell him he had a pretty white girl in his taxi, it suddenly became awkwardly silent, he tried talking to me but in Chinese but I told him I couldn’t understand what he was saying. We literally just sat for like two minutes in silence…unbelievably awkward and so to break the silence I ended up formulating a question about music in Chinese so that he would turn on the radio. I guess he wasn’t expecting that to come out of my mouth because his eyes suddenly became big and he began to talk so quickly, and I’m guessing it was something along the line of, I thought you didn’t understand but you just spoke Chinese. In Chinese I explained that I could speak a little but I could not understand fully when others speak to me. Finally he dropped me off at the center where I was able to work on some stuff and sent off some important emails to my mom and then headed home and chilled the rest of night.

Friday we came into the center at 9:30am and sat around (literally) doing what we wanted, giving me time to work on my senior project, catch up on seminary and read. We did however plan for what was to come Saturday and Sunday, which was an afternoon of English camp kind of a deal for kids to better their English skills. Fortunately I didn’t have to plan much because I was already doing an AE class (an extracurricular class like dance, art, and/or music) so my time wasn’t spent on having to work on prep materials …bonus! So ya, Alex came in to help Caitlyn with teaching the A1 class (beginners English) or at least to practice teaching the lesson. After lunch Alex had Caitlyn do a practice lesson with our Chinese coworkers, and then we all headed to an elementary school to teach “public speaking”. When we arrived they had an opening ceremony where they talked a lot and had us come up and share a little bit about ourselves. They then gave us gifts and we were assigned to our classes. I was assigned to third graders. As they took the kids to class they had us stay back to take pictures with the head master, and important people. After that, we only had 15 minutes to teach, so I just shared a little about myself and then took pictures with the kids, they are very crazy, but so fun. After class we headed out, but there was a little confusion as to where everyone was so that took some extra time, we ended up finding everyone and started heading out. Mr. Jin decided to put his jacket on me as we walked outside of the school, it was a little weird but I acted like it was nothing. Our way home was what I call an adventure in and of itself. So Mr. Jin took Nita, Caitlyn, and I home, and he LOVES American music, even though he cannot understand it. His favorite song to listen to is ‘Casablanca’, he made sure we paid attention to the song and were quiet; he shushed us to make sure we were listening. We also listened to ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ form Lion King, and Sia, and just random 80’s songs. We finished off the night listening to ‘Unchained Melody’ from the movie “Ghost” and as we listen to this song Mr. Jin decided to turn around in the middle of the road and drive the wrong way, there is a video to show this, the arrows are clearly marked going the other direction. Just to let you all know I’m laughing quite hysterically as I write this, definitely something I will remember for a long time. We did make it home safely so no worries, thank goodness. We ended up staying up all night just talking went to bed around 11, 12 ish….late.

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Saturday Nita and I had the opportunity to go to an English competition and judge a group of 18 kindergartners. They were soooooooo CUTE. It was hard judging them because you knew how hard they were trying and you didn’t want to give them a bad score. There was this one girl, and she was wearing full on makeup, she had bright pink eye shadow and bright lip gloss, and ended up doing surprisingly well.  We did have two kids who ran off stage and started crying because they forgot what to say/ do. I ended up going to them and I gave them a candy, and I did try to cheer them up but they were so distraught, I don’t think it mattered. After the competition we came home and took a break and then headed to the center to do our afternoon English camp. So for this weekend I taught dance, I taught them the “Whip Nae Nae”, “Macarena”, “Cha Cha Slide”, “Chicken Dance”, “Cupid Shuffle”, and “Cotton Eye Joe”. They were all really good and had a ton of fun. I only had to teach three dance classes, so it wasn’t too bad and I really enjoyed myself. After the kids went home we started to head home as well, however Nita wanted to stop and get food. She said she would pay 20 yuan worth of food if we went with her. How could I refuse? Free Food. After dinner we wandered around going into some small shops, I was tired and so the girls handed me all the bags and I went home to drop them off and put the ice cream in the freezer, while they went to our dumpling place and ordered food. The food was of course delicious! Once we were all at home, we wanted to veg-out and began to watch “The Secret of Kells”, but then my mom called so I talked to her for forever and went to bed.

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Sunday I was finally able to sleep in and work on things I needed to catch up on. I got up and called my mother and talked for a while and she was at a school dance (Basis Mesa Spring Formal) helping my dad DJ. So I got to see the young’uns at my school all dressed up in their formal attire, super cool. After that I took a shower and headed over to Daniel’s to do laundry; however, their water was not working so I had to take my clothes out of the washer, which already had soap on them and head home to wash them. After rinsing all the soap off of my clothes and hanging them up to dry (remember, no dryers here), I graded some of the tests I had given to the students Wednesday night and then headed to the center to teach dance again for the afternoon English camp. It went well, I assist with another class where I help a boy named Henry learn how to read and comprehend what he reads, and then I have to run and teach another dance class. So ya, not much but it was fun and busy. After class we went home and made some grilled cheese, spaghetti, and hot chocolate, and had time to finish “The Secret of Kells”, and then headed to bed. I was actually excited to sleep because Monday was my day off!

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