Tomorrow is our last full day of teaching. I want to say that time has flown, but that wouldn’t be completely true. Although we’re definitely not bogged down by the rigor of curriculum and the stress of grading, I for one go to bed exhausted every night and wake up feeling like I’ve gotten nowhere near the rest I need.
Teaching has been a very entertaining experience, although I’m not sure I’m leaving my students with much more than the bragging rights to say that they’ve met an American teacher. My kids are very sweet: they bring me foods to try and draw me pictures, and I know that I’m going to miss them when we leave for Beijing in a few days. Going back to teaching American teenagers is going to be rough, no question! It’s nice to have a captive audience, even if they’re only catching about half of what I say. We’ve done a million different activities, and they present a little every day. Today, for instance, they shared with the class the holidays that they created following our mini unit on American holidays. We had No Homework Day, Teacher Homework Day (they have a lot of feelings about their workload), Social Day, Fries Day, and Meeting Miss Jordan Day. Yes, I’m partial to the latter.
My own personal adventures have been many considering we have little time to sight-see and hardly any agency to do so without a Chinese guide and interpreter. Aside from the various malls we’ve been to, I was taken to a tea shop that was part of a three story complex made entirely of tea sellers where I bought some lovely souvenirs; we ate at a famous duck restaurant and I experienced the crisp, buttery goodness that is duck neck; on a completely separate occasion, we were served duck heads and I managed to pluck up the courage to eat an eyeball just so I could say that I did; and tonight we experienced a Chinese Pizza Hut and then took turns at archery in the Wonder Mall.
Our school has been occupied this week by a film crew shooting a movie about a young girl’s struggles in the aftermath of her father’s untimely death. My roommate and I have enjoyed watching them shoot around campus, and she (my roommate) was actually asked to be an extra in the film although the offer was later rescinded for unknown reasons. We learned quickly that the Chinese change their plans often and expect you to be ready to go with the flow. This is particularly difficult for our Type-A personality folks to comprehend.
On Thursday, we leave for Beijing. We’ll actually get to do some sight-seeing for a few days, and then we’re off to Handan for unspecified amounts of professional development. We’ll be working with Chinese English teachers, showing them activities conducive for teaching ELL students and discussing ways that they can be implemented in their classrooms. How this will work with the language barrier and the fact that some of our group aren’t actually teachers in their “real” lives is beyond me, but it will be what it will be. I’m excited to get out of the big city: Shijiazhuang has treated us pretty well, but it’s a smelly, dirty city and I’m looking forward to experiencing something a bit more rural (although that will probably mean less amenities like regular air-conditioning and Western toilets).
I have oodles of new pictures to share, but that will have to wait for tomorrow. I’m down in the lobby of our dorm at the moment, taking advantage of the prime WiFi connection, and my connector cable is upstairs.