A Friday of Student Events
Friday found our main campus walkway overflowing with artwork.
The Art majors were displaying their mid-term projects. Hand-painted traditional scrolls, calligraphy, photographs, drawings, and animation characters rippled with the breeze while hanging on both sides of our boulevard. We were fortunate to have a day without rain, meaning there was plenty of time for everyone to leisurely cruise by and enjoy the students’ creations.
Yet a second display of sorts had to do with our English education majors. Friday afternoon, the English department held their second Teaching Demonstration Contest for the graduating seniors. These students I had during their freshman year but missed out last year as I was gone. Many I hadn’t seen since we last had courses together. Seeing them once again, this time in the role of an English teacher, was quite impressive. We had 10 contestants who gave 20-minute lessons each for elementary to junior high students. They chose their own units from authentic student text, created a lesson around it and then taught to their classmates while the judging panel (our staff) looked on.
The variety of methods each student used was refreshing. Our “little” teachers didn’t just stand in front of the room, have students repeat after them and move on to the next page. They enlisted sight, sound and touch to reach their visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic learners. They had posters, props (basketball, present, cake), blown up photos, and even hand-made puppets. They were cheerful and fun, with their classmates quickly coming to their aid every time they asked for volunteers. They used songs and even rhythmic chorusing to get their points across.
The most moving part was to see a majority using many of the teaching methodology tools and ideas which I had taught them 2 years ago. They remembered!! For me, that was the most rewarding experience imaginable: Watching my own students take to heart what we had learned and use it successfully in the classroom.
The Saturday Search for A Bookcase
A beautiful, sunny day on Saturday, along with another arrival of a Mail-bag from America filled with books, brought out the shopper in me. It was time to purchase another bookcase for our growing English language resource library, courtesy of our United Methodist Women units who have sent monetary gifts for the Christmas season.
Already, the case I had purchased 3 years ago was overflowing, not only with books but teaching equipment such as tape recorders, textbooks and left-over exam papers. Since our tiny 2-room office has no place to store anything, teachers were using the bookcase’s underneath cupboard space for their things. With more books needing to be shelved, and more teachers’ stuff thrown in, there just wasn’t any place to store it all.
So this past Saturday, I finally made my long-overdue visit to the furniture shopping area near the sports’ stadium. A little mom-and-pop place had just what was needed to match the one we already had. After some bargaining, the price went down from $110 to $93, which I thought was fair.
This new purchase now in the office, ready to be filled after it airs out. For some reason, there is a nasty smell that has been lingering inside the closed cabinet and bookshelf spaces. I’ve scrubbed it out with some cleaning supplies and while it’s much better now, it still needs perhaps another day before the books actually go in.
The Luzhou Church Renovation
A few blogs ago, I reported on our Luzhou church’s 1913 sanctuary and roof getting some much needed help. I was unaware of exactly what was going on. I just thought a new roof was needed since the old one leaked, the worship center “stage” would be enlarged and some new balcony windows (ones with steel frames that opened and closed) were in order.
As it turns out, the church is undergoing more drastic changes than I thought. After services in the low-ceilinged, concrete warehouse, Pastor Liao this last Sunday excitedly led me through the sanctuary to show me all that had been done and was being done on the church.
The front doors were blocked so we had to enter by squeezing alongside the outside church wall and the building next to it. From the side door, we entered a church which was still in shambles. Scaffolding was everything. Piles of dirt were ready to be mixed for concrete. Stacks of wooden beams and floor tiles were here and there. And the construction workers were busy in all corners, cementing, sawing, drilling, hauling, laying bricks . . . It was a bit like watching Noah’s Ark go up in a rushed job before the flood.
Not only has the roof been replaced but we now have a gorgeous wooden beamed ceiling with raises the sanctuary higher. The wood has a natural stain which brightens the entire area. These same wooden planks outline the balcony and will be holding paintings of Biblical characters. The windows are now sealed tight with metal frames, easy to open, close and lock. During the summer, it’s quite hot in the church so having the ability to get some air circulating was the main reason for that addition.
There’s a back entrance now to the sanctuary with a small corridor where the pastors and choir members can slip in behind the pulpit without having to parade through the entire church. Pastor Liao was especially excited about this for the upcoming Christmas Eve performance and worship service. Now the performers can change their costumes in the corridor and surprise those watching without standing out in the open. It also is extremely crowded in the church for Christmas Eve services. Those getting ready to take the platform often had to fight their way through the crowds, trying to get to their spots. The back corridor should certainly solve that problem.
A second floor kitchen is being added for serving overnight visitors, and on the ground floor, an outer enlarged toilet area will be built as well.
If you’ve ever been to China and visited churches, most of them have the squat, trough-style toilets. You just put your feel on either side of the trough and go. Water then shoots through every 5 minutes or so to wash it out. (Yes, it’s stinky and not pleasant to look at.) These kinds of toilets are everywhere in well-trafficked public places. Our school has them and so do most older churches.
I’m not sure what the new toilets will be like but they certainly have to be better than the tiny cubbyhole one we were using before.
Another beautification feature will be floor tiles. Before, the church was merely concrete. Now we’ll have a soft pink tile floor, even in the balcony, which will likewise give the sanctuary a brighter look.
Pastor Liao told me the cost of the renovation was paid for entirely by the congregation with no outside help. That’s quite an act of love coming from the congregation, mostly elderly and those will very little income, over the years.
After our tour, Pastor Liao made sure to invite me to sing for the Christmas Eve services when the church project was expected to finally be finished. We are actually singing together, “Away in A Manger” in both English and Chinese. Pastor Liao has a gorgeous, melodic voice and the expressions to go with it. I think the two of us together will certainly make a very joyful noise unto the Lord, guaranteed.
Until the next entry, here’s wishing you a blessed Advent season and “Ping An!” (peace) for your day.