Tuesday May 12, 2009

Thought for the day: “The best way to learn something is to teach it.” Anonymous

I, too, feel like a superstar – from the moment I wake up in my lovely hotel room, eat a sumptuous breakfast in the company of good friends and greeted with applause by my adoring, yes, adoring students. Who wouldn’t feel like a rock star?

But I am here to learn and to teach and our morning meeting included a health alert by Baoli. She advised us to be extra vigilant – wash hands, cover mouth after sneezing avoid touching eyes, drink lots of water. She also gave us a very interesting cultural lesson on Chinese names and their different characteristics that the family name comes first, another woman keeps her formal family name and the children take the mother’s name as part of theirs. It is also important to incorporate the 5 elements; metal, earth, fire, wood, water – determined by the minute and hour the child was born.

At school we were officially welcomed by a group of faculty and administrators, including the president Mr. Liu.

Morning class went well with much laughter from both students and teacher. And I could not do my job without the help of my teaching assistant, Della, tho I’m sure she is starting to tire of my well used introduction and stories about my chickens and sleep. Today to liven things up for them I selected Del to be one of my sheep and I chased her around the room trying to lasso her before catching Del and throwing her (symbolically) on the ground for shearing. That led to a discussion on washing the wool, spinning, knitting hats and mittens, etc. I find that one thing often leads to another. I think the students are able to keep up.

Julia and some of the readers took us out to lunch at a restaurant just a couple of blocks from school. We all enjoyed a convivial meal singing national anthems and other songs. After lunch we strolled through a small park and Julia took many photos of us. We returned to school just in time to join a commemorative moment of silence for the earthquake victims.

My afternoon session was fun – I’ve found if I can get the students to laugh without making too big of a fool of myself it breaks the ice. The sheep lassoing trick usually does it but I sometimes add in a little Chinese lesson. I usually go around and ask how old they are. They tell me in English and I say it in Chinese. After about the tenth time they see how much I have improved and I tell them that’s how it works – they will too. Drive back to the hotel with the usual game of tag with pedestrians, bikes, trucks and this time one with a train thrown in. Lucy commented that she thought she saw one driver with his eyes shut.

Dinner and probably an early night of it for most of us as this was our first full day of teaching.


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