Sunday, October 10, 2010–Mary Ellen

Thought for the day: In a group of 3, you can always learn something from one in the group. –Confucius

I was surprised to learn during today’s discussion that there is no minimum age for drinking alcohol in China. The same is true in Germany. Another surprise was the revelation that for a pedestrian, a green light means you can TRY to cross the street. Thus it seems prudent to find a crowd in crossing a street and to place yourself in the middle of that crowd.

Today we met from 8:00am to 1:00pm for orientation. As a team building exercise, we each wrote 3 personal goals in the to+verb+object sentence pattern. Baoli led the discussion by arranging our individual personal goals in 4 categories: To know Xi’an better; to establish friendships with local people; to make a difference through teaching; and to take pleasure in the experience. These became team goals! Baoli led us through a discussion over 13 characteristics of an effective team:

1. Being prepared
2. Doing things together (socialization)
3. Cooperation
4. Listening
5. Laughing
6. Asking for help/sharing successes
7. Skill building
8. Punctuality
9. Flexibility
10. Respectfulness
11. Patience
12. Being open minded
13. Commitment to team goals

My moment of joy came this afternoon. Remember the young student who said “I am a lovely girl.”? I told her in a private conversation that she was indeed “a lovely girl” and she replied, “You are a lovely grandmother.”

This afternoon we met with students and teachers from Xi’an Bio-Medical Tech. College and with teachers from Xi’an High Tech College. The first is a private school for students who did not do well enough on the entrance exams to attend a public university. The second is a public univ. for the better students.

I talked at length with Wang Liping who teaches English at the Bio-Medical College. She is 24 and is also studying for the nursing exam in 2011. She was a student at the college and stayed on as an assistant teacher of English while she studies for the nursing exam next year. She is from northwestern China and will loan me a map of China for my classes. She says students at this college come from all over China and would enjoy telling about their home places.

Sorry, I’m skipping around. Back to this morning: Baoli has 4 jobs she needs help with. Judith and Elli volunteered to be “Health and Safety Coordinators. Ginny and Fred (the returnees) will be Free-time Coordinators. KC and Judith will be Final Celebration Coordinators. Greg and Mary Ellen will be Journal Managers.

Referring back to the “Thought for the Day” at the beginning of this journal entry, I learned something from Judith this afternoon when she asked students if she was speaking slowly enough. Baoli asked for a percentage of understanding and students responded 10-30% understanding. So we are all talking too fast. Li Ping (Diana) told me the Chinese word for “slow a little” is “man yi dian”. Tomorrow I shall write the Chinese word on the board and make a fool of myself pronouncing it. Then I’ll have students practice saying “Slow down please.” and ask them to say this when I’m talking too fast.

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