It’s taken 15 years, but this past semester finally had the English Language Resource Center trickle into being.
I had plenty of help this time around instead of going it on my own, which I had at one point considered. I was advised, however, to let the school finance the Center so as not to create any embarrassment on the leaders’ part that their foreign teacher did this without their help.
I completely agreed with that suggestion. It was decided I would provide the resource materials with my US network of friends (that’s all of you!); the school would provide the furnishings and office equipment.
Teacher Huang and Teacher Chen were my go-to guys in this venture. They helped to complete school monetary request forms, receive official stamps from departmental offices, apply for school credit card use, accompany me on four trips to different office furniture stores, arrange for delivery of items and lastly, assist in moving things around for eventual room use. I next invited students to help me clean, after which we stocked the shelves, cabinets and drawers with the many games and fun items so many of you have sent over the years. All those boxes of supplies I’ve been dragging around for years are no longer taking up space in my apartment. The contents have found a home!
In April, Zuri (our school’s U.S. Peace Corps teacher) and I were finally able to open the Center for our weekly English Corner night. We also added private activity gatherings for our own students on other days of the week.
English Corner was especially well-attended, including not only the college students but some of our teachers who brought their children. Among the kids, the card game Uno was a favorite along with Barrel-of-Monkeys and the Arts-and-Crafts area for drawing or coloring.
The college kids found the Center a great place to relax, spend time with their foreign teachers, browse through the displayed English books and magazines and enjoy playing language games not available in China.
As you can see from the pictures below, we’re off to a great start!
Plans for Developing The Center
My Center plans for the next semester include: Hosting a grand opening for teachers and leaders, having regular “Open Door” hours 3 times a week, enlisting student volunteers to help clean, monitor and assist in the room, and creating a classroom material development section. That particular area I will constantly supply with free materials (English reward stickers, construction paper, glue, markers, crayons, tape) for the 3rd year English Education majors to use during their weeks of practice teaching, or what we in the States call Student Teaching. Many create their own visual aids but have to pay for those out-of-pocket. Not in the Center. All materials will be free, with plenty of space for our future English teachers to develop their teaching aids with advice, suggestions or help from others.
There are only two items I still wish for: a flat-screen TV for showing English language movies (downloaded from the Net or chosen from my over-1,000 DVD collection) and a table-top printer/copier. Discussions are underway if the school will provide these or not. I should know by October, after which I will decide how to proceed if the school feels it’s not within the budget to do so.
Here in the States: Gathering Items to Take Back
I mentioned in the previous entry that I am currently in the States for my summer holiday. I have two weeks to go and am already stocking up on more games to take back with me to China for the Center. I have collected some holiday banners from the Dollar Store and am cruising the Walmart kids’ aisles, thinking what games to add to the activity cabinet. Such fun to be able to do this in person.
Closing with a Big Thank You for the Supply Gifts and Donations
While back, I have spoken at 2 churches (Morton UMC in Morton, IL and Mt. Carmel UMC in Mt. Carmel, IL) which I missed last summer. Both congregations were very generous in donating items and funding for the Center so I am not only able to buy things but ship them back as well. As some might know who have sent me things before, the cost of mailing is very, very high. No longer does our US post office have surface mail available. Everything goes airmail.
It ain’t cheap, folks!
What doesn’t go into the suitcase will be going toward the postage of boxes headed for the post office.
But most exciting is I now have enough to purchase the TV and printer on my own! If the school deems it necessary to cancel the request I’ve already placed for those two things, the gift money I have received will go toward getting them on my own.
Many, many thanks to you who have helped make that possible. Can’t wait to get started in stocking the room with more for the students to use and enjoy.