Encouraging signs

With all the emphasis on punctuality, it was not at all surprising that barely minutes after 7:00, the entire team was seated and enjoying breakfast and lively conversation. With the usual efficiency of superior leadership, Baoli moved the meeting along quickly to allow everyone ample time before departure to ensure nothing was forgotten or neglected on the day of the big song and dance. In the care of our excellent driver, we made the perilous journey along the rainy streets of Kunming without incident.

We are by now well adjusted to our teachers and vice versa. Lesson plans are all over the map and trading ideas and schemes that worked well in one class are routinely passed on to benefit others. In our class, we intermixed active segments with language-oriented desk work to maintain the energy level with some success. The “fly swatter vocabulary”, tried and recommended by others in the team, proved to be very popular. The teachers quickly learned how to beat the system to win the competition, but they did so with good humor and no harm done. We will do a repeat. Idioms continue to be a challenge to explain.

The important day’s take-away for our part of the team was a perceptible shift in the relationship. We seem to have moved from an “us and them” condition to one of friendly colleagues working together to improve language skills and find new methods for teaching English at the middle school level. Our final two conversations, the first stimulated by written responses that were discussed and the second an appeal for a better method of engaging students, were among the most fully engaged dialogues so far.

The unquestionable highlight of the day was the afternoon singing and dancing extravaganza. Ably choreographed by the four young ladies who are rapidly becoming the key to our team’s success, the afternoon session turned into a noisy high energy event that would have made Bob Fosse envious. Once Nora warmed up the group and turned them over to her partners, the beat and step barely paused as they moved from galloping ponies to moving feet to shifting hand games. We can imagine the teachers, sweaty and exhausted, collapsed in their beds and wondered happily what they had gotten themselves into.

Tom and Myrle, wary of being drawn into yet another activity where their motor skills would be revealed as inadequate, fled the premises on foot. Dinner was at another restaurant within walking distance where our thoughtful hostess and intrepid leader lavished dumplings on the stars of today’s endeavors as a well-earned reward. The sun was also visible for as much as 45 seconds today: an encouraging sign.

Entry submitted by: Myrle

Message of the Day: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things that you did.”  – Mark Twain

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