Monday September 6, 2010

Thought for the Day: We are all life-long learners.

I woke up around 5 a.m. anxious about what lay ahead of me today. Teaching a class is something I had never done before, and here I was about to teach conversational English to a group of students in Xian Biomedical Technical College. These students are high school graduates from different provinces and backgrounds. Many of these students have never seen a foreigner or heard a native English speaking person. I had only a vague idea as to what I needed to do. I was not afraid of the challenge but I did feel quite inadequate. Well, since I always believe that life is all about new experiences, I decided to dive in head on.

We were picked up at the hotel by Julia in a black van. She is the wife of the president of the school. The traffic was extremely heavy because it was raining and during the rush hours. Riding in a car in China is an experience you will never forget. Chinese drivers, bikers, and walkers are like kamikazes. Weaving in and out of traffic in whichever direction they want and whenever they see an opening, even if the opening is just a foot away from the next car, bike or person. Because of the rain and the traffic we were about 15 minutes late getting to the school. When we arrived the president of the school and the students were there in the front entrance hall waiting to welcome us. It was very moving and at the same time I was a little embarrassed and I don’t quite know why.

After we shook hands with the students, the president gave a short welcome speech and from our volunteers group Claudia responded with a very warm short message. Then our whole party moved upstairs to a very large conference room. On one side of the room there was a huge development plan for the future school. It was quite an ambitious plan. On the oppose side of the room on a long dark wood cabinet there were 5 gold colored awards for the school’s achievements. Robinson, the president of the school, gave us some information about his background and we each introduced ourselves. Then we were escorted to our classes.

My classroom was in the library with Claudia on the other side with another class. When I saw how many students were there in the class, I had a moment of panic. I found it was very difficult to get the students to be involved in the beginning. But with some trial and error I finally got them to respond. There was one particular student with quite an attitude. I think she feels that she is quite good at conversational English already. But when I asked her to answer what she wants to be, she could not speak a complete sentence and was having difficulties with words. So I tried to get her involved every chance I got. I don’t know how successful I was with these students. All the while I was teaching trying to think of things that might interest them I was perspiring with sweat running down my back. It was the combination of anxiety and frustration plus the heat I suppose. I was really glad the class was over. I didn’t know what to expect on the first day. Hopefully, all will be well tomorrow and it might be slightly easier after the first day, and this first ever teaching experience.

Now I can understand what teachers everywhere go through.

– Marcella

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